Strengthening Ourselves in Jehovah
SLOWLY the surgeon looked up after examining his female patient, a missionary of the Watch Tower Society. His expression was grave. In a kind, yet serious, tone he informed her that she would need to submit to major surgery as soon as possible.
“There is no alternative,” he stated. Later, in the presence of her husband, the surgeon agreed not to use any blood or blood fractions. Therefore, the couple decided to have the operation performed.—Acts 15:20.
The above experience is nothing new or unusual to members of the human family. Even those who have faithfully served God are still subject to sin and death inherited from Adam. Also, as the Bible explains, “time and unforeseen occurrence befall them all.” (Eccl. 9:11) Yes, we all can expect to face trials from time to time in our lives.
Those who serve Jehovah God have many trials forced upon them by Satan and his organization in an effort to break their integrity to Jehovah. Tremendous pressure may be brought to bear, oftentimes suddenly, to cause one to yield and disobey God in some way. The trial may be a strong enticement to enjoy the pleasure of sin. Or there may be brutal persecution in an effort to force an act of disloyalty to God.—1 Pet. 5:8.
When suddenly faced with a severe trial, you may feel almost overwhelmed. You may feel inclined to give way to discouragement. At such a time it is appropriate to recall how other servants of God have withstood trials. (1 Pet. 5:9) The Bible shows what they did in order to maintain spiritual strength.
There was, for example, the occasion when the fugitive David and his men returned to their place at Ziklag. What a scene of desolation met them! A marauding band of Amalekites had raided and looted the city. The Bible says:
“When David came with his men to the city, why, there it was burned with fire, and, as for their wives and their sons and their daughters, they had been carried off captive. And David and the people that were with him began to raise their voice and weep, until there was in them no power to weep any more. . . . And it became very distressing to David, because the people said to stone him; for the soul of all the people had become bitter . . . So David took to strengthening himself by Jehovah his God.”—1 Sam. 30:3-6.
HOW TO STRENGTHEN OURSELVES IN JEHOVAH
Just how can we strengthen ourselves in Jehovah? The rest of the account concerning David’s experience will help us to see what is required in order to receive strength from Jehovah in time of trial.
We know from God’s Word that David was a faithful and loyal servant of God. By means of study and meditation he had considerable knowledge of God and God’s dealing with man. This is revealed in his many Bible psalms. For example, David wrote: “I have remembered days of long ago; I have meditated on all your activity; I willingly kept myself concerned with the work of your own hands.” (Ps. 143:5) David made a practice of doing this. He did not wait until some emergency confronted him.
In his plight at Ziklag David could thus draw on a reservoir of knowledge and experience regarding God and his dealings. This would be an encouragement and strength to him. As he wrote: “In God I have put my trust; I shall not be afraid. What can flesh do to me?”—Ps. 56:4; 31:1.
Also, David undoubtedly recalled how God had marvelously aided him on previous occasions. Had not God given him victory over the giant Goliath? David could truly say: “Jehovah is my light and my salvation. Of whom shall I be in fear? Jehovah is the stronghold of my life. Of whom shall I be in dread?”—Ps. 27:1.
David also prayed. He was a man of prayer, and many of his prayers are recorded in the Bible. “Show me favor, O Jehovah, for I am in sore straits,” he once prayed. (Ps. 31:9) Such expressions no doubt were included in prayers he uttered in his distress at Ziklag.
It is also of interest to note that David did not consider that he was someone special who had a private line of communication with God. He recognized that God had an arrangement for communication with him via the Aaronic priesthood. Therefore he utilized this arrangement. The Bible account explains:
“Hence David said to Abiathar the priest, the son of Ahimelech: ‘Do, please, bring the ephod near to me.’ And Abiathar came bringing the ephod near to David. And David began to inquire of Jehovah, saying: ‘Shall I chase after this marauder band? Shall I overtake them?’ At this he said to him: ‘Go in chase, for you will without fail overtake them, and you will without fail make a deliverance.’”—1 Sam. 30:7, 8.
David acted. “Promptly David got on his way, he and the six hundred men that were with him.” Yes, David did not lag or delay in following Jehovah’s instructions. Once he knew what they were he carried them out promptly. As a result, he turned this disaster into victory. He regained all the persons who had been carried away and the goods that had been plundered from them.—1 Sam. 30:9, 18-20.
OBTAINING STRENGTH TODAY
The record concerning David at Ziklag is retained in God’s Word not as just an interesting historical facet of his life. Rather, it is preserved for “our instruction, that through our endurance and through the comfort from the Scriptures we might have hope.” (Rom. 15:4) The same God who strengthened David also supplies strength and endurance to us who strive to serve him faithfully today. By his spirit he gives us power beyond our normal ability to carry forward his will and his commission to us, to meet unforeseen emergencies, and to defeat persecution.—2 Cor. 4:7.
Perhaps you are one who has already begun following in the footsteps of Jesus Christ by preaching the good news of God’s kingdom as he did. (Luke 4:43; Matt. 28:19, 20) Do you recall the trial you faced when first you realized, after studying the Bible with Jehovah’s witnesses, that pure worship of Jehovah included visiting people from house to house with the Kingdom message? (Acts 5:42; 20:20) For many, God’s command to preach has been a real test of faith.
However, as you grew in knowledge and understanding of God and his purposes the strength to do his will began to grow within you. And through earnest prayer, along with loving encouragement and assistance from those of Jehovah’s visible organization, you have been able to meet this trial. You may now look back and freely admit it was strength from God that helped you to share in the preaching work. You know that the Bible’s words are true: “God is the one that, for the sake of his good pleasure, is acting within you in order for you both to will and to act.” (Phil. 2:13) How this initial experience of gaining strength from God to do his will has given you strength to face and surmount other trials since that time!
GOD’S ORGANIZATION VITAL FOR STRENGTHENING
In the case of David, there was a close association with Jehovah’s organization, and in time of trial this association proved very beneficial and strengthening. Jehovah’s priest Abiathar gave David divinely inspired instruction as to just what course of action to take. Similarly, an angel from Jehovah’s heavenly organization gave Jesus Christ strength to face his tests of integrity. (Luke 22:43) And Christian brothers from the congregation at Rome gave the apostle Paul encouragement and strength just when he needed it. (Acts 28:14, 15) What fine admonition for us today is contained in these experiences! We need to stick close to Jehovah’s visible organization! It is here that we receive needed strength and encouragement.
In our time Jehovah through his “faithful and discreet slave” organization has progressively revealed his will. (Matt. 24:45-47) By means of that organization we are prepared to meet trials with success and to preserve our integrity to God. For example, this faithful teaching body has made clear the Bible viewpoint of the sacredness of life and blood and that sacrificial use of blood is the only use of it that is approved by God. (Lev. 17:11-14; Acts 15:20, 29) This knowledge of God’s will has been a source of strength to those servants of God who have been pressured to take a blood transfusion. Also the encouragement of fellow servants of God has proved a vital aid to integrity-keeping under such circumstances. But even if an accident should befall us and cause much loss of blood and perhaps isolate us from fellow servants of God, we are never isolated from God. We can always call on him for strength with assurance of obtaining it.—Ps. 120:1; 121:1-8.
God’s organization has also served to strengthen his people to carry out the commission to preach the good news of the Kingdom to the ends of the earth. (Matt. 24:14) Of course, we have been forewarned that “all those desiring to live with godly devotion in association with Christ Jesus will also be persecuted.” (2 Tim. 3:12) And this persecution has come. It has come, not because of disobedience to God, but, rather, because Jehovah’s modern-day servants continue to follow Jesus’ example of preaching the Kingdom message and they keep separate from the world.—John 17:16.
Consider the persecution of Jehovah’s witnesses in Malawi, Zambia, Cuba, the United Arab Republic, and many other countries. They have not been overcome by Satan’s efforts to stamp out true religion in those nations. Rather, God has supplied them power beyond what is normal so that they, as the apostle Paul stated, are coming off completely victorious. (Rom. 8:35-37) Read the reports in the 1969 Yearbook of Jehovah’s Witnesses on the above countries, and you will see that this is true. Death itself has been faced courageously in the strength of the resurrection hope.—John 5:28, 29.
One means by which God’s organization strengthened Christians in the first century was to send out faithful men to instruct and encourage the disciples in their scattered congregations. Paul and Barnabas were two of such traveling servants. On one occasion these men went back to visit the brothers at Lystra, Iconium and Antioch of Pisidia, where mob violence had been experienced. The Bible says: “They returned to Lystra and to Iconium and to Antioch, strengthening the souls of the disciples, encouraging them to remain in the faith and saying: ‘We must enter into the kingdom of God through many tribulations.’”—Acts 14:21, 22.
This visitation by Paul and other faithful servants did strengthen the disciples to stand firm. Today the organization of Jehovah’s witnesses receives the same service. Faithful men, sent out by the governing body of the “faithful and discreet slave,” continually visit the congregations of Jehovah’s witnesses in all the earth to encourage them to loyal endurance in Jehovah’s service. How this provision does strengthen them!
Now we stand at the very threshold of the new system of things. The destruction of this system of things is impending. (2 Pet. 3:7-13; 1 John 2:15-17) Satan the Devil is about to make his all-out assault on God’s servants. Are we fearful? Are we being strengthened to meet the trials ahead? Fearlessly, in Paul’s words, we say: “For all things I have the strength by virtue of him who imparts power to me.”—Phil. 4:13.
We shall continue our personal study of God’s Word, and to meet at congregational meetings. We shall pray incessantly to Jehovah for guidance and strength, and vigorously apply ourselves to doing his will. God has promised: “I will by no means leave you nor by any means forsake you.” We believe this with our whole heart, and firmly say: “Jehovah is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?” (Heb. 13:5, 6) Yes, we can endure the trials ahead in the strength that comes from God!