Comfort for Integrity Keepers
“Because of my integrity you have upheld me.”—PSALM 41:12.
1. Why do Jehovah’s people need comfort?
JEHOVAH’S integrity-keeping witnesses need comfort because they are objects of persecution. Of course, they should expect such trials, for Jesus Christ told his followers: “A slave is not greater than his master. If they have persecuted me, they will persecute you also.” (John 15:20) Especially now are Jehovah’s people in need of comfort. Why? Because the original integrity breaker, Satan the Devil, has been cast down to the vicinity of the earth, and his time is short. Hence, he is making his last stand as a fighter against God and His servants.—Revelation 12:7-9, 17.
2. How do Christians feel about the sufferings of fellow believers?
2 As servants of Jehovah, we fervently pray for our brothers and sisters who must work under ban or are threatened and mistreated by persecutors. (Acts 12:1; 2 Thessalonians 1:4) Our commendation goes to Christians who faithfully endure reproaches from apostates and others. (Matthew 5:11) We have loving concern for fellow believers opposed by relatives or living in religiously divided households. (Matthew 10:34-36) And our heartfelt sympathy is with integrity keepers suffering infirmities and prolonged illness. But why all this suffering? And what comfort is there for men and women of integrity?
Remember the Reason and the Refuge
3. Satan uses persecution in an effort to do what?
3 Whether by human or by demonic means, the Devil is seeking to “devour” Christians. (1 Peter 5:8) Yes, Satan uses persecution and other difficulties in attempting to destroy our relationship with Jehovah God, to make us disloyal integrity breakers. But in all of this, are we defenseless? No indeed!
4. When facing persecution and other adversities, of what can integrity keepers be sure?
4 Jehovah will be our Refuge if we prayerfully seek his help. When beset by persecution and other adversities, we can plead with him as did the psalmist David: “Show me favor, O God, show me favor, for in you my soul has taken refuge; and in the shadow of your wings I take refuge until the adversities pass over.” (Psalm 57:1) As integrity keepers, we can be sure that, in time, relief will come from Jehovah, our Refuge. And we can be as confident as David was when he said in prayer to God: “Because of my integrity you have upheld me, and you will set me before your face to time indefinite.”—Psalm 41:12.
5. What quality do persecuted Christians need, and what hope do we have?
5 Since trials may last for some time, however, we need to cultivate endurance. The apostle Paul urged Hebrew Christians to “keep on remembering the former days in which . . . [they] endured a great contest under sufferings.” He further wrote: “You have need of endurance, in order that, after you have done the will of God, you may receive the fulfillment of the promise.” (Hebrews 10:32-36) For anointed Christians, the fulfillment of God’s promise will bring the reward of immortal life in heaven. But for the “great crowd,” there is the prospect of eternal life in an earthly paradise. (Revelation 7:9; Luke 23:43) Indeed, salvation to eternal life is possible for all who endure to the end as integrity keepers.—Mark 13:13.
6. Why do some among Jehovah’s Witnesses have a special need of endurance, and what help do they have?
6 For decades, Jehovah’s Witnesses in some lands have especially ‘had need of endurance.’ Why? Because they have had to carry on their sacred service in difficult territory or in the face of various hardships, including governmental bans. Perhaps you yourself have to endure poor health or family opposition to your Christian pursuits. Such trials would stop those relying on mere human strength, but they do not halt Jehovah’s Witnesses because their “help is from Jehovah, the Maker of heaven and earth.”—Psalm 121:1-3.
7. (a) Trials that continue afford us what opportunity? (b) Why can we believe what Paul said at Philippians 4:13?
7 Some situations may have to be endured until the end of this system of things. But continuing trials afford us the opportunity to prove our integrity to God and to gladden his heart. (Proverbs 27:11) At the same time, Jehovah provides the strength needed to endure in faithfulness. The apostle Paul wrote: “For all things I have the strength by virtue of him who imparts power to me.” (Philippians 4:13) You can believe those reassuring words, for they are constantly proving true in the case of “the entire association of your brothers in the world.”—1 Peter 5:9, 10.
Integrity Keepers Encourage Us
8. Illustrate how integrity keepers in divided households may be blessed.
8 It is a source of great encouragement to see integrity being maintained by ‘the entire association of our brothers in the world.’ Some of them have been rewarded richly for keeping their integrity to Jehovah in divided households. For example, when a Bible study was started with a Catholic woman in Ireland, her husband manifested bitter opposition and threatened to divorce her. Nevertheless, she continued her study, and one day she gave her husband a copy of the book You Can Live Forever in Paradise on Earth. He was impressed by its clarity, directness, and fine illustrations. Soon the husband was studying the Bible with the help of this book. He quit smoking, and shortly thereafter the couple resigned from the Catholic Church and destroyed their so-called holy pictures. Before long, the woman was baptized and was sharing in the auxiliary pioneer work, while her husband was making fine progress in the ministry. Such experiences can be of real encouragement to those in divided households who persevere as integrity keepers.—1 Corinthians 7:12-16.
9. How can infirm integrity keepers help others?
9 Other integrity keepers have proved faithful despite infirmity. In Britain, one disabled Christian who must use a wheelchair nevertheless finds fulfillment in his ministry. He wrote: “Although I have been unemployable secularly since 1949, Jehovah has been pleased to use me all this time. So the years have passed quickly. I have learned that even a severely disabled person can be of great service to others. My wife and I have been a sort of anchor for various ones in the congregation. Because of our circumstances we are always here, always available.” Yes, let no infirm Christian be discouraged, for he or she can be a source of encouragement to others.
10. By not succumbing to persecution, how can integrity keepers help fellow believers?
10 Integrity keepers do not succumb to persecution. Imprisoned for maintaining Christian neutrality, one brother said: “Beatings . . . became a regular part of my life, increasing in number and severity. I was getting weaker day by day, as they often deprived me of food. Constantly I prayed to Jehovah, and I can say that he did not abandon me. The more they beat me, the less I felt it.” Though sentenced to over two years of imprisonment, this witness of Jehovah maintained his neutrality. (Isaiah 2:2-4; John 15:19) Many other integrity keepers have taken a similar stand. Surely, such integrity keeping provides an encouraging example that can move fellow believers to faithfulness.
11. What Scriptural assurance of comfort do Christians have?
11 The foregoing are only a few of the countless experiences proving that Jehovah is with his faithful people. He is “the Father of tender mercies and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation.” (2 Corinthians 1:3, 4) Yes, “God is for us a refuge and strength, a help that is readily to be found during distresses.” (Psalm 46:1-3) How comforting to know that he will sustain us and our fellow believers in all our tribulations!
12. How did Paul’s integrity-keeping course affect fellow Christians?
12 We can draw courage from seeing fellow worshipers of Jehovah endure as loyal Christians despite various hardships. That is what happened when others observed the faithfulness of the apostle Paul. He wrote: “My affairs have turned out for the advancement of the good news rather than otherwise, so that my bonds have become public knowledge . . . ; and most of the brothers in the Lord, feeling confidence by reason of my prison bonds, are showing all the more courage to speak the word of God fearlessly.”—Philippians 1:12-14.
13. Our own integrity keeping can have what effect?
13 Yes, when we know that other witnesses of Jehovah are maintaining integrity to him in the face of persecution, we are strengthened to remain faithful. On the other hand, when we ourselves maintain integrity under test, we encourage others to speak God’s word fearlessly. And surely we can find satisfaction in knowing that our faithfulness is a source of encouragement and blessing to them.
14. What are two of the means by which Jehovah comforts us?
14 Jehovah sustains us by means of his holy spirit. In fact, as Peter wrote, ‘if we are being reproached for the name of Christ, we are happy, because the spirit of glory, even the spirit of God, is resting upon us.’ (1 Peter 4:12-16) God also comforts us and our suffering fellow believers by his response to our prayers. “Do not be anxious over anything,” wrote Paul, “but in everything by prayer and supplication along with thanksgiving let your petitions be made known to God; and the peace of God that excels all thought will guard your hearts and mental powers by means of Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6, 7) Do you have similar confidence in the “Hearer of prayer”?—Psalm 65:2.
Drawing Comfort From God’s Word
15. How would you illustrate the truthfulness of Romans 15:4?
15 God’s sacred Word also is a source of great comfort. As the apostle Paul noted: “All the things that were written aforetime were written for our instruction, that through our endurance and through the comfort from the Scriptures we might have hope.” (Romans 15:4) For instance, when we read about Israel’s miraculous deliverance from Egypt or the preservation of the Jews in Queen Esther’s day, does that not strengthen our confidence in Jehovah as a matchless Deliverer? What about the record of Job’s integrity keeping in the face of great adversity? Surely, this illustrates how Jehovah’s modern-day servants can endure sufferings in the strength that God supplies. “Comfort from the Scriptures” can indeed fill integrity keepers with hope and courage.
16 But what if our problems make us feel depressed? Surely, comforting Scriptural assurances can make us feel secure in Jehovah’s care and can help to allay our depression. The apostle Peter wrote: “Humble yourselves . . . under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time; while you throw all your anxiety upon him, because he cares for you.” (1 Peter 5:6, 7) Yes, Jehovah “cares for you.” What a comforting thought! Nothing can happen that he does not see or cannot control. Moreover, Paul gave this assurance: “God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear, but along with the temptation he will also make the way out in order for you to be able to endure it.” (1 Corinthians 10:13) As a person determined to be an integrity keeper, you can count on that!
17. What other provisions are there to bring us comfort?
17 Prayerful study of God’s Word and Christian publications provided by “the faithful and discreet slave” can bring comfort in times of stress. (Matthew 24:45-47; Psalm 119:105) So can sound Scriptural advice from kindly elders in the congregation. Among other things, they are called upon to “speak consolingly to the depressed souls, support the weak, be long-suffering toward all.”—1 Thessalonians 5:14.
18. If we have little in a material way, what comfort is there for us?
18 But what comfort is there if we have little in a material way? It certainly is comforting to know that there will be fine housing, an abundance of food, and other material blessings in God’s New Order. (Psalm 72:16; 2 Peter 3:13; compare Isaiah 65:17-25.) But even now Christian living eliminates the squandering of money on harmful smoking, overindulgence in alcoholic beverages, gambling, and so forth. Money thus saved can be used to benefit one’s family. Following God’s Word can also help us to be content with less in a material way. Paul was, for he said: “To be sure, it is a means of great gain, this godly devotion along with self-sufficiency. For we have brought nothing into the world, and neither can we carry anything out. So, having sustenance and covering, we shall be content with these things.” (1 Timothy 6:6-8; Philippians 4:11, 12) Concentrating on our privileges in Jehovah’s service results in many blessings that make us rich indeed.—Proverbs 10:22.
19. How can prolonged illness be borne?
19 Yet, what if we must endure prolonged illness? This can be borne with Jehovah’s help and comfort provided through his Word. For instance, the psalmist David said: “Happy is anyone acting with consideration toward the lowly one . . . Jehovah himself will sustain him upon a divan of illness.” (Psalm 41:1-3) This is not the time for miraculous cures. But Jehovah grants ailing Christians the wisdom and fortitude needed to deal with their illnesses as they put Kingdom interests first in life.—Matthew 6:33; 2 Corinthians 12:7-10.
20. How can we cope with grief when a loved one dies?
20 How can we cope with the grief experienced when a loved one dies? Comfort can be drawn from the Bible’s resurrection hope. (John 5:28, 29; Acts 24:15) Thus, although we are saddened by a loved one’s death, we do “not sorrow just as the rest also do who have no hope.” (1 Thessalonians 4:13) What comfort the resurrection hope brings integrity keepers!
Remain Confident in the God of Comfort
21. Persecution endured often results in what?
21 Be assured that Jehovah, “the God of all comfort,” will never abandon his dedicated and loyal people. (2 Corinthians 1:3; Psalm 94:14) It is also helpful to remember that persecution endured by Christians can honor, or glorify, God. Such treatment draws attention to his people and their Kingdom-preaching work, and this often results in greater increase in the number of Jehovah’s praisers.—Compare Acts 8:4-8; 11:19-21.
22. As regards integrity, what should be our determination?
22 So, with God’s help, let us be determined not to yield to Satan’s schemes to break our integrity. Acting in faith, may we continue to trust in Jehovah. Let us never overlook the many ways in which he blesses, upholds, and comforts us as his servants. May we prove our devotion to him and to his righteous principles, upholding his sovereignty. Remember, too, that this is a very personal matter. Continue doing the divine will as you work with Jehovah’s organization in these momentous days. Rejoice in your privilege of gladdening Jehovah’s heart by remaining faithful to him, and never forget that he unfailingly provides comfort for all integrity keepers.
What Is Your Reply?
□ Why do Jehovah’s servants especially need comfort?
□ Why does Satan use persecution against Christians?
□ How can integrity keepers encourage us?
□ How can we draw comfort from God’s Word?
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Satan seeks to devour Jehovah’s servants, but we are by no means defenseless
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Jehovah answers the prayers of integrity keepers. Do you pray regularly?