Acknowledging God’s Sovereignty Brings Benefits
TODAY millions of persons in 207 lands and islands of the sea are learning about the true God, Jehovah, and are remolding their lives in acknowledgment of God’s sovereignty, conforming to His standard as to what is right and what is wrong. These include persons rich and poor, law-abiding citizens and former criminals, the very religious as well as those who had become disillusioned with religion. Truly, “all sorts of men.”—1 Tim. 2:4.
How does acknowledging God’s sovereignty affect people? Does it bring benefits? We would expect so, for the Scriptures speak of “the distinction between a righteous one and a wicked one, between one serving God and one who has not served him.” (Mal. 3:18) Can we see that distinction today?
In many cases the adjustments that people must make to submit their lives to God’s sovereignty may not seem to be extraordinary. At times, though, remarkable changes occur. Let us consider some recent experiences.
OVERCOMING SEVERE DEPRESSION
Serious sickness can make life miserable for people. What effect can knowledge of God have in such a situation? Note the experience of a woman from El Salvador, who suffered severely from schizophrenia:
“I used to search out lonely places like mountains and often would spend all day in my bedroom so as not to see other people. When alone I would throw myself down and roll on the ground in desperation. My family took me to clinics, hospitals and specialists, but to no avail. I felt that a dog had a better life than I did.
“Then one morning Jehovah’s witnesses called at my home and asked to speak to me. I agreed, but felt so ill at ease that I kept my face hidden.”
Soon this woman consented to a regular study of the Bible. “But each time the Witnesses arrived to conduct the study,” she notes, “my heart palpitated rapidly for fear of facing them. I even thought of discontinuing the study.” But she did not do that. Why not?
“When I realized that I was learning the truth, I determined to seek God’s help in prayer and to do my best at overcoming my tendency to isolate myself from other people. I began attending meetings at the Kingdom Hall, but this was very difficult at first. Sometimes I would get to the front door and turn around and go home. When I did go in, at first I would not lift my head to look at those who greeted me. But with prayer and loving help from fellow Christians, I progressed little by little.
“Now I am able to get up in front of a whole congregation to give brief Bible talks as a student in our Ministry School. I have dedicated my life to Jehovah and now enjoy calling from house to house to share with others the Bible truths that have so blessed my life.
“When my family noticed the powerful effect that God’s Word had on me, they, too, asked for someone to study the Scriptures with them. How happy I am that someone had sufficient love to call at my home to discuss Bible truth. I no longer cower away from people, but am happy and active in helping others. All thanks for this go to Jehovah God.”
Many persons today lack direction in their lives, and this often leads to depressing family problems. Can reliance on God, conforming to the requirements of his Word, help here, too? A woman from the United States relates:
“My situation in life had become very critical. I was confused and mentally depressed because of marital problems. My husband and I were in the process of getting a divorce.
“Previous to this I had sought counsel from the Catholic priest. But he said that he could not help me. I was so depressed that upon leaving him I wanted to run the car into a tree, but hesitated because of my baby lying next to me in the seat.”
Then something happened to change the depressed state of this woman. She continues: “My brother called me long-distance from California. He told me that he had been studying the Bible and that it foretold a new system of things soon to come in which people will gain eternal life on earth restored to paradise. But I didn’t pay attention at that time.”
Later, though, she got to see her brother in connection with his wedding at a Kingdom Hall of Jehovah’s witnesses. She was truly amazed at the peace and contentment that he, a former drug user, had achieved and at the friendliness and sincerity of others present. But she still had doubts about her brother’s newfound religion.
“What truly convinced me,” she adds, “was the wedding talk. I noticed that the minister read right from the Bible. The discourse mentioned the principle that wives must ‘be in subjection to their husbands.’ (Eph. 5:22) I wondered why I had not been told that at my own wedding.
“Upon returning home, I began to study the Bible and to apply to myself what I was learning. As a result my husband commented: ‘I am happy to see you settle down to be my wife and a mother to the children. Whatever they are doing to you at the Kingdom Hall, just keep right on going.’ All thanks for this go to Jehovah God.”
A TRULY “NEW PERSONALITY”
The Scriptures command all Christians: “Put away the old personality which conforms to your former course of conduct . . . [but] be made new in the force actuating your mind, and . . . put on the new personality which was created according to God’s will in true righteousness and loyalty.” (Eph. 4:22-24) The experience of Anthony, from the island of Cyprus, illustrates the power of God’s Word to effect such a change:
“I was born in a village in the district of Famagusta. Although raised by religious parents, at about the age of seventeen I started carrying a gun. One day three persons approached me in a field and sought to do me harm. I shot one of them in the leg and the others ran away. This led to the first of many periods in prison for me.
“I was not reformed, though, for when I got out I started trafficking in narcotics. Money was no worry for me then, for I had a plentiful source of income from two girl friends who worked for me in the old city as prostitutes. I put them at opposite ends of the area for fear that one would see me frequenting the other’s house. Besides that, I belonged to a gang that ran a protection racket for other prostitutes, and we used to attack and rob unsuspecting visitors to the city. I was always looking for a fight. One day two friends and I beat up a police sergeant so badly that he had to spend several days in the hospital.”
But in 1958 things began to change for this man. How so? He explains: “In that year a missionary came to my cycle shop and started talking to me about the Bible and the hope of a new system of things in which all mankind will be strong and healthy and live together as brothers. My, how that appealed to me! I wanted to live in that new system. So I began studying the Bible and soon dedicated my life to the wonderful God who will bring to pass these heart-cheering things. That was in 1960.” How did acknowledging God’s sovereignty, by applying the Bible in his life, affect this man? Fourteen years later one of his associates in the Christian congregation writes:
“Personally, I would never have believed that Anthony, so zealous for God’s principles, such a meek and humble brother, could have had such a past life. I could not but admire the tremendous power that the Word of God has.”
FREEDOM FROM DEPENDENCE ON A TRANQUILIZER
Addiction to narcotics plagues mankind today. This happens not only to hippies and rebellious youths, but often to persons taking medication prescribed by a doctor. Can the desire to please God help one to get free of such enslavement?
A woman from the United States relates: “My health had never been good, even when I was really young. I had serious nerve problems and so, under a doctor’s care, began taking a certain tranquilizer.” She took that drug for a full eight years. But then this woman read some Bible-based information that set her to thinking. It included the Scriptural teaching that true Christians must be willing to ‘pick up their torture stake’ and follow Christ Jesus, even to the point of death, if necessary. (Luke 9:23, 24; John 12:25) Could this woman really say that she would do that if unwilling to endure the discomfort of ‘withdrawal’ from use of a tranquilizer? She continues: “I determined to stop using it.” What happened then?
“As expected, I experienced severe withdrawal symptoms. I spent sleepless nights. I couldn’t sit, lie down or read. I would cry hysterically and my body jerked uncontrollably. But with the help of a doctor, a loving husband and, above all, Jehovah God, I broke free from this enslavement to narcotics.
“Of course, I still have occasional feelings of depression. But others have commented on how much better I look and act. When a stressful situation arises now, I face it, rather than reaching for a pill. The main source of strength for me has been a strong relationship with Jehovah God in prayer.
“I realize that there are people with serious illnesses who must take those types of medication. But I wrote this because I believe that there are many just like me who want to stop and don’t know how. The only real solution is prayer to God and strong willpower based on the motivating force of Bible principles.”
“LOVE TO ONE ANOTHER AND TO ALL MEN”
Acknowledging God’s sovereignty involves heeding the Scriptural counsel: “May the Lord make you increase and abound in love to one another and to all men.” (1 Thess. 3:12, Common Bible) An important way for Christians to show love to “one another” is mentioned at Hebrews 10:24, 25: “Let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together.”—Common Bible.
There are many who expend considerable effort to obey this Scriptural command. The Cheballiers of Argentina, for example, regularly travel thirty miles and spend 25 percent of the family’s income each month to attend weekly meetings for Bible study with fellow Christians. When asked about this expense, Señor Cheballier replied:
“Though this has meant depriving myself of some things, I consider that it is the best investment that I can make at this time. Jehovah deserves this, and much more. And the meetings are of vital importance to my children.”
What about showing love “to all men,’ including persons outside of the Christian congregation? Jesus did this by publicly preaching “the good news of the kingdom” of God, and he instructed his disciples to do likewise. (Matt. 4:23; 10:5-7; 24:14) That work has reached worldwide proportions today. Consider, for example, the report of a traveling minister of Jehovah’s witnesses from the mountainous region of Durango, northern Mexico:
“The service of the brothers in this part of the country requires love of Jehovah and love of neighbor, because they must traverse high and low mountains to get to where the people are. Sometimes it is necessary to walk for as much as four hours over uneven, rocky terrain to reach an area where there are only eight to ten families.
“In spite of this, regular efforts are made to reach these isolated people. Sometimes the brothers spend a week or two in mountainous areas, taking just a blanket and their food. Even these remote people are hearing and responding to the ‘good news.’”
A ‘LIVING’ WORD OF “THE LIVING GOD”
Repeatedly the Scriptures refer to the Creator as “the living God.” (Jer. 10:10; 23:36) Correspondingly we read of God’s Word: “The word of God is alive and exerts power.” (Heb. 4:12) But why does the Bible, more than any other collection of writings, motivate people to transform their lives for the better?
Being “inspired of God,” the Bible’s lofty principles for living strike a responsive chord in the hearts of persons who desire to do what is right. (2 Tim. 3:16) Sometimes just a brief exposure to Bible truth can start someone on a whole new course of life.
This is what happened with Dora, a young Argentinian woman, who was once a fervent Catholic. Though she enjoyed a comfortable, reasonably happy married life, Dora’s spiritual needs went unsatisfied. In search of peace and justice she spent four years with the Communist Youth Movement and the World Pro-Peace Commission. Then one day Dora began reading a copy of the Christian Greek Scriptures (“New Testament”). Deeply impressed with the wisdom of Jesus’ words, she turned to Jehovah God in prayer and sought the help of Jehovah’s witnesses to study the Bible. “Today,” says a report from Argentina, “she thanks Jehovah for leading her to true peace and joy!”
Another reason why the Bible motivates to fine conduct is that it helps people to know of God’s dealings with mankind and his purpose for them. Thus Bible study aids truth-hungry persons to know the purpose of life, the reasons why human history has been so turbulent and to have a solid hope for the future. Showing how quickly the Bible’s hope-inspiring message can aid someone is the case of a woman from Turkey who had lost both her husband and daughter in untimely death:
“Being without hope, this woman became ill and grew steadily weaker, until she could not even walk upright.
“Then one day in a grocery shop she overheard one of Jehovah’s witnesses talking about God and the comfort and hope that the Bible holds out [including the hope of a resurrection for the dead (Acts 24:15)]. She immediately gave her address to the Witness and began studying the Bible.
“As this woman progressed in knowledge of the truth and gained spiritual strength, her physical condition markedly improved. Now she once again walks upright and her radiant facial expression reflects the hope she has gained from study of the Word of God.”
Acknowledging God’s sovereignty has brought happiness, contentment and hope to millions of persons throughout the world in recent years. Would you like to see firsthand how this is possible? Jehovah’s witnesses will be happy to conduct a free Bible study with you in your home or at another convenient place.