Maintaining Happiness by Dispelling Complaint
“Happy are those hearing the word of God and keeping it!”—Luke 11:28, NW.
1. In what way is Jehovah happy, and how can man also acquire happiness?
JEHOVAH is the happy God. (1 Tim. 1:11, NW) His happiness comes from being completely devoted to righteousness and to bringing happiness to his creatures in his loving way. Unselfishly he has made full provision for men to live in happiness on earth and to that end he gives them what they require. To acquire genuine happiness man has only to heed the instruction God gives him and live his life according to it.
2. Is the present system of things in a happy state, and why so?
2 Who can deny that the present system of things on earth is filled with unhappiness and sorrow? In it there is plenty to complain about. It has come about in fulfillment of Revelation 12:12 (NW): “Woe for the earth and for the sea, because the Devil has come down to you, having great anger, knowing he has a short period of time.” The prophecy has proved true: “But know this, that in the last days critical times hard to deal with will be here.” (2 Tim. 3:1, NW) Some politicians may boast that the people never had it so good; but to a great extent they are miserable and troubled by the threat of global catastrophe in a nuclear war, the alarming increase in crime and delinquency, the upswing of dread diseases in spite of latest scientific discoveries, and general insecurity. Their countenances reflect the spirit of discontent that pervades the whole system of things.
3. How is happiness now being spread, who respond and what is the result?
3 Jehovah, unselfish in his happiness, provides for people to hear the glorious good news. It is being preached throughout the inhabited earth for the purpose of a witness. (Matt. 24:14, NW) Some, described in Ezekiel 9:4 (AS) as “men that sigh and that cry over all the abominations that are done,” hear this message and come out of the afflicted old system of things. They begin to make their minds over and undergo a change of personality to God’s happy state. (Rom. 12:2; Eph. 4:24, 31, 32) Thus when a person comes to understand and appreciate the truth of God’s Word, his viewpoint on life completely changes. He becomes very joyful. He now has new associates, Jehovah’s witnesses, a society of happy people. They are spiritually prosperous and growing. Continually they learn more and more about the principles of New World living, which they strive to apply in their lives. They radiate optimism and enthusiasm. Certainly they have every reason to be happy!
4. Do the prospects ahead for those who hear the Word of God and keep it give reason to complain?
4 The provisions Jehovah has made for such ones to gain endless happiness in his new world indeed are a “happy hope.” (Titus 2:13, NW) The woeful conditions of these last days, attended by sickness, sorrow and death, which were brought upon humanity by its first parents, Adam and Eve, are no longer considered as any reason to complain. How happy they are that God has provided the way out! The prospects of everlasting happy life give them every reason to rejoice. Appreciation of God’s goodness causes gratitude to well up in their hearts. It brings realization that something is owing to God; it is worship of him. Heartfelt gratitude impels such ones to dedicate themselves to the service of Jehovah. They become ‘doers of the work’ and ‘happy in their doing it.’ Because they have heard the Word of God and are determined to keep it, their prospects of happiness stretch out endlessly.—Jas. 1:25, NW.
5. What pressure is brought to bear in the life of one newly dedicated to Jehovah, with what apparent change?
5 Unfortunately, not all who dedicate themselves to Jehovah continue to live and serve Jehovah in their assignments happily forever. For a time the pleasure of learning new truths about God’s Word and purposes and the added thrill of passing these good things to others claim all their interest. Sometimes, then, in the lives of these newly dedicated ones strange things seem to happen. Conditions appear to change. It is seen that a life of service to Jehovah as one of his witnesses is not a bed of roses. Hardships may befall one, or even severe persecution springs up to deprive one of his new-found joy. Even the daily service of Jehovah God becomes burdensome. Preaching day after day grows more rigorous and exacting. The people encountered in their homes in the missionary field are indifferent and apathetic toward the message of the Kingdom. And preaching brings with it many difficult problems. It involves considerable work with what seems to be endless details demanding careful attention. Or in the life of our new witness perhaps a domestic problem has arisen as the result of his new way of worship. It brings along with it a very severe strain on the family ties, which threatens dire consequences and even a breach in the family circle. Pressure is brought to bear on one’s devotion to Jehovah and his dedication vows so recently made.
6. When a new witness of Jehovah begins to disapprove and criticize congregation matters, what happens?
6 Then again, our new witness of Jehovah is filled with zeal. He is ambitious to get ahead in the service and be on with the work. When he looks around himself, perhaps in a small congregation, it appears that very little progress is being made. Obviously, he concludes, it is because things are just not being run right. He sees that there are some careless and indifferent ones associated with the congregation. Not much progress is being made with the preaching work. He feels that something must be done and that quickly; so he begins to disapprove and criticize. Shortly he realizes that he is not happy as at the start. His joy in serving God is fading away.
7. Why and how does the happiness experienced at first association with the New World society sometimes disappear?
7 Our new brother may fail to recognize it at first but he is undergoing a radical change of attitude. He finds himself disagreeing emphatically with arrangements made in the congregation for worship and service. He criticizes those who serve with him. Instead of serving Jehovah with joy and gladness he is now found to be demanding and complaining about arrangements. He wants things to be more convenient and easy. He resents the work, bother and inconvenience that the mistakes and carelessness of others bring upon him. He says to himself or even in the hearing of others: “If they would only do things the right way, it would be so much easier!” In the meanwhile the happiness experienced at first has totally disappeared. It is not always apparent just how and why it happened, but this is certain, he just does not feel pleased about it. His happiness and joy are gone. Back he has gone to the grumbling, murmuring way of the old world. He habitually disapproves of the arrangements Jehovah has made. He says to himself: “Jehovah and his organization owe me something better than this.” He doubts the wisdom of decisions and arrangements and wants to do things his own way. Not anxious to carry out Jehovah’s will expressed through his organization, he complains. He even stops preaching and is miserable. He feels depressed and walks about with a sour countenance. So quickly he has lost the joy of his association with Jehovah and his New World society.
8. For what fundamental reasons has the complainer brought unhappiness upon himself?
8 Who would deliberately choose to be unhappy? Then why complain, which always brings unhappiness? The complainer has brought it on himself; he has permitted selfishness to enter in. He wholly fails to understand why the tests come upon him. No longer does he have the right outlook on the burdens, hardships and persecution that have befallen him. He has forgotten what Peter wrote: “Beloved ones, do not be puzzled at the burning among you which is happening to you for a trial, as though a strange thing were befalling you. On the contrary, go on rejoicing forasmuch as you are sharers in the sufferings of the Christ, that you may rejoice and be overjoyed also during the revelation of his glory. If you are being reproached for the name of Christ, you are happy, because the spirit of glory, even the spirit of God, is resting upon you.” (1 Pet. 4:12-14, NW) Here is laid down the fundamental reason and necessity for Christians to keep integrity with the right mental outlook. Consequently a struggle to keep integrity must be expected.—Job 1:6-12.
9. (a) In view of what warning should the Christian not complain or rebel against burdens and hardships? (b) What kind of experiences can a Christian expect after he dedicates himself to Jehovah?
9 Jesus Christ warned too of what his followers must expect: “I have spoken these things to you that you may not be stumbled. Men will expel you from the congregation. In fact, the hour is coming when everyone that kills you will imagine he has rendered a sacred service to God. But they will do these things because they have not come to know either the Father or me. Nevertheless, I have spoken these things to you that, when the hour for them arrives, you may remember I told them to you.” (John 16:1-4, NW) Let none become so self-centered, unreasonable or forgetful about the reasons for keeping integrity to Jehovah as to complain or even go to the extreme of rebelling against burdens and hardships. Rather, pause to reason about the matter: when you dedicated yourself to a life of service to Jehovah did you expect a life of luxury, ease and idleness? One who wishes a vacation does not seek employment. Nor does one who enlists in any army expect a furlough. And Christians have volunteered for spiritual warfare.—2 Cor. 10:3, 4; Eph. 6:13.
10. Although a Christian’s life may be difficult, why is he not to be pitied, and, in view of all hardships and problems, is his happiness lost?
10 Jehovah’s witnesses need not pity their lot as sharers in the sufferings of Christ. Complainers are always unhappy. It is Jehovah’s promise that those who worship him will be happy, and he has not lied. What if we must endure hardships, overcome difficult problems, bear up under persecution? Does suffering hardship mean loss of happiness? Experience has demonstrated beyond argument the answer is an emphatic no! Have you attended one of the assemblies of Jehovah’s witnesses recently? They are held regularly, locally and on a national and international scale. This involves considerable inconvenience and often great expense. It may require a long, hazardous trip. Frequently the conventioners camp in an open field with very few conveniences. Then while attending the daily sessions there may be a trip of many miles in crowded buses or subways to sit for hours in a packed stadium. But who will say that attending a convention of Jehovah’s people is not one of the most unforgettable and joyful experiences of one’s life?
11. What is the right mental attitude for a follower of Christ, and does Jehovah approve such course?
11 Bearing hardship and even persecution courageously and joyfully, knowing that such hardships will not rob him of his happiness, is the right mental attitude for a Christian. Thereby he keeps close in mind the all-important reasons for keeping integrity to Jehovah, not weakening or feeling sorry for himself and complaining because of the great privilege that is his. Let us not forget that Jehovah approves of our bearing up under persecution. His own Son set a most outstanding example. It is brought directly to our attention that it is in this regard he set a model for us. In the well-known scripture we are informed that we are to follow his steps closely. “For if someone because of conscience toward God bears up under afflictions and suffers unjustly, this is an agreeable thing. For what merit is there in it if, when you are sinning and being struck blows, you endure it? But if, when you are doing good and you suffer, you endure it, this is a thing agreeable with God. In fact, to this course you were called, because even Christ suffered for you, leaving you a model for you to follow his steps closely. He committed no sin, nor was deceit found in his mouth. When he was being reviled, he did not go to reviling in return. When he was suffering, he did not go to threatening, but kept on committing himself to the one who judges righteously.”—1 Pet. 2:19-23, NW.
12. What helps us to maintain happiness as we do Jehovah’s will?
12 It is not a good thing for Christians to take a narrow, shortsighted viewpoint about the trials that come upon them. In fact, such hardships bring along with them some of the greatest joys. It is very important to keep the right slant on tests and troubles that come along, either in the present or in the future. It is the work of preaching that pleases Jehovah and makes him glad. “My son, be wise, and make my heart glad, that I may answer him that reproacheth me.” (Prov. 27:11) We can maintain our happiness only by uncomplaining obedience to his will and enduring faithfully in his service.
13. When we consider the reasons for dedicating ourselves, do we have things so trialsome in our day?
13 When we stop to consider the matter, we do not really have things so difficult and trialsome in our day. Especially is this true when we consider the necessity of maintaining integrity and the reasons for dedicating ourselves to Jehovah. Who is even as ill-treated as Paul, who was subjected “to hunger and also to thirst and to be naked and to be knocked about and to be homeless”? This zealous apostle of Jesus uncomplainingly endured all such trials and went on to say: “When being reviled, we bless; when being persecuted, we bear up; when being defamed, we entreat; we have become as the refuse of the world, the offscouring of all things, and we are so now.”—1 Cor. 4:11-13, NW.
14. Despite all his burdens and misfortune, in what mood did Paul conclude his second letter to the Corinthians?
14 True, the life of a modern Christian is not always an easy one. Nor was it in Paul’s time: “Are they ministers of Christ? . . . I am more outstandingly one: in labors more plentifully, in prisons more plentifully, in stripes to an excess, in near-deaths often. By Jews I five times received forty strokes less one, three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I experienced shipwreck, a night and a day I have spent in the deep; in travels often, in dangers from rivers, in dangers from highwaymen, in dangers from my own race, in dangers from the nations, in dangers in the city, in dangers in the wilderness, in dangers at sea, in dangers among false brothers, in labor and toil, in sleepless nights often, in hunger and thirst, in abstinence from food many times, in cold and nakedness. Besides those things of an external kind, there is what rushes in on me from day to day, the anxiety for all the congregations.” (2 Cor. 11:23-28, NW) Paul was not overcome despite all of his burdens and misfortune. In the conclusion of his letter he writes in a happy mood: “Finally, brothers, continue to rejoice, to be restored, to be comforted, to have unity of mind, to live peaceably, and the God of love and of peace will be with you.”—2 Cor. 13:11.
15, 16. (a) Is it putting things too strongly to say that complainers lose happiness and even life itself? (b) To whom and when does the warning example of the complaining Israelites have application?
15 There are some serious aspects to this subject of complaining that witnesses of Jehovah should not overlook. It is this: Complaining by one in Jehovah’s organization simply means that one is expressing displeasure and annoyance against the will of God. Actually then, complaining is against Jehovah. There are some very pointed Scriptural examples demonstrating that invariably complainers lose happiness. Often they have suffered the loss of life itself. So we can see how serious it is if we complain against Jehovah, or against his organization and its instructions, when this brings sorrow and misery with ultimate death. Do you think otherwise and that that is putting it too strongly? Or that the warning is exaggerated? Then it would be well to give attention to another scripture. It has to do with those things that the ancient people of Israel experienced that pictured events now in our time. Perhaps you have referred to this scripture many, many times. Did you realize a that it lies in this context of dispelling the spirit of complaint? “Neither be murmurers, just as some of them murmured, only to perish by the destroyer. Now these things went on befalling them as examples and they were written for a warning to us upon whom the accomplished ends of the systems of things have arrived.” (1 Cor. 10:10, 11, NW) Just what did they have to murmur about? Had not Jehovah delivered them from oppression in Egypt, protected them and fed them in a loving way so that they were never hungry, cold or naked? They had no worries at all. But even after all this they complained just like spoiled crybabies. Never forget that the example of the Israelites applies to complainers now, today.
16 You would think anyone would be content with such a life and such secure prospects stretching ahead as those confronting the Israelites poised at the entrance to the Promised Land. No, not they! They despised Jehovah’s gifts. They had continually murmured and worked themselves into a very unhappy state of mind. We can easily grasp how foolish it was for the Israelites to lose sight of what Jehovah had done for them, but do we apply the lesson to our circumstances today, as we should, to understand what it is about complaining that is so serious?
17. For the sake of happiness, why is it now foolish to complain about God’s provisions and arrangement of things?
17 For the sake of happiness, then, we should not demand more and better from Jehovah, as did the Israelites who turned up their noses at his provisions for them. They foolishly cried that it was not good enough and not quick enough to suit them. And now they were not going to get the inheritance to which Jehovah had been leading them. They were simply going to die in the wilderness. Neither are those that complain now against God’s way of handling things going to inherit the blessings of the new world, although it is so near, and they will lose their present happiness as well. Jehovah will not have a new world filled with murmurers, just as in the prophetic picture an entire generation was barred from ever entering the Promised Land because of the murmuring.—Numbers 13, 14.
18. As we contemplate the future, what course would be folly, and, in this connection, whose experiences are recalled?
18 Contemplation of the blessings of the new world is thrilling, beyond description. It will certainly prove to be a ‘land flowing with milk and honey,’ as symbolically described in ancient times. (Num. 13:27) Who with such a brilliant future ahead would consider turning back to this world? Again recall the experience of the Israelites who en masse cried out because, on the brink of the Promised Land, hardships and difficulties confronted them. “Then all the assembly raised their voice, and the people continued giving vent to their voice and weeping all through that night. And all the sons of Israel began to murmur against Moses and Aaron, and all the assembly began to say against them: ‘If only we had died in the land of Egypt, or if only we had died in this wilderness! And why is Jehovah bringing us to this land to fall by the sword? Our wives and our little ones will become as spoil. Is it not better for us to return to Egypt?’ They even went to saying to one another: ‘Let us appoint a head and let us return to Egypt!’”—Num. 14:1-4, NW.
19. Why, of all people, should Jehovah’s witnesses be found uncomplaining and happy?
19 Complaining leads to a wretched existence, as in the case of the Israelites. Keep in mind that Jehovah has also delivered his witnesses of today from the oppression of a wicked world. They do not fear its fears, share its anxieties or labor under its burdens. Let us remember that we too are being protected and fed wonderfully in a spiritual way and that a glorious new world is our goal. If we feel the urge to complain about things, let us examine our motives and not leave Jehovah out of the transaction, as did the crying Israelites. There is abundant proof that Jehovah knows where he is leading us and just how to run his organization. Those who stick to it and keep its instructions faithfully are going to be a very happy and contented people. With this viewpoint we can keep in mind the wonderful things God has accomplished on behalf of his people in times past. We shall not forget what he is doing for us today and the bright future prospects that are ours. Keeping these happifying thoughts in mind, we are determined to maintain our integrity faithfully and, in view of all that has happened in the past, we conclude that, of all people, Jehovah’s witnesses have no cause to complain. Rather, they will keep uncomplaining and be happy, reflecting a “happy God,” as did Christ Jesus.