Make Jehovah’s Everlasting Arms Your Support
“The eternal God is thy dwelling-place, and underneath are the everlasting arms.”—DEUTERONOMY 33:27, American Standard Version.
1, 2. Why can Jehovah’s people be confident of his support?
JEHOVAH cares for his people. Why, during all the distress of the Israelites, “it was distressing to him”! In love and compassion, he “proceeded to lift them up and carry them.” (Isaiah 63:7-9) So if we are faithful to God, we can be confident of his support.
2 The prophet Moses said: “A hiding place is the God of ancient time, and underneath are the indefinitely lasting arms.” (Deuteronomy 33:27) Says another translation: “The eternal God is thy dwelling-place, and underneath are the everlasting arms.” (American Standard Version) But how do God’s arms support his servants?
Why So Many Hardships?
3. When will obedient mankind fully enjoy “the glorious freedom of the children of God”?
3 Serving Jehovah does not shield us from hardships common to imperfect humans. God’s servant Job said: “Man, born of woman, is short-lived and glutted with agitation.” (Job 14:1) As to “the days of our years,” the psalmist said: “Their insistence is on trouble and hurtful things.” (Psalm 90:10) Life will be that way until ‘the creation is set free from enslavement to corruption and has the glorious freedom of the children of God.’ (Romans 8:19-22) That will happen during Christ’s Thousand Year Reign. On the basis of Jesus’ ransom sacrifice, human subjects of the Kingdom will then experience deliverance from sin and death. By the end of the Millennium, Christ and his associate king-priests will have helped obedient mankind to reach perfection, and those loyal to God during the final test by Satan and his demons will have their names written permanently in “the book of life.” (Revelation 20:12-15) Then they will fully enjoy the glorious freedom of the children of God.
4. Instead of complaining about our lot in life, what should we do?
4 Meanwhile, instead of complaining about our lot in life, let us trust in Jehovah. (1 Samuel 12:22; Jude 16) Let us also be grateful for our High Priest, Jesus, through whom we can approach God “that we may obtain mercy and find undeserved kindness for help at the right time.” (Hebrews 4:14-16) Never should we be like Adam. In effect, he wrongly charged Jehovah with giving him a bad wife, saying: “The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit from the tree and so I ate.” (Genesis 3:12) God gives good things and does not bring hardships on us. (Matthew 5:45; James 1:17) Adversities are often the result of our own lack of wisdom or someone else’s mistakes. They may also come upon us because we are sinful and live in a world lying in Satan’s power. (Proverbs 19:3; 1 John 5:19) Yet, Jehovah’s everlasting arms always support his loyal servants who prayerfully rely on him and personally apply the counsel of his Word.—Psalm 37:5; 119:105.
Sustained During Illness
5. What encouragement may ailing ones find at Psalm 41:1-3?
5 Illness causes most of us distress at times. Yet, David said: “Happy is anyone acting with consideration toward the lowly one; in the day of calamity Jehovah will provide escape for him. Jehovah himself will guard him and preserve him alive. He will be pronounced happy in the earth; and you cannot possibly give him over to the soul of his enemies. Jehovah himself will sustain him upon a divan of illness; all his bed you will certainly change during his sickness.”—Psalm 41:1-3.
6, 7. How did God help David when he was on a sickbed, and how can this encourage Jehovah’s servants today?
6 A considerate person helps the needy. “The day of calamity” can be any calamitous occasion or long period of hardship that weakens an individual. He trusts in God to guard him during infirmity, and others ‘pronounce him happy in the earth’ by spreading the news of Jehovah’s merciful dealings with him. God sustained David “upon a divan of illness,” perhaps during the stressful time when David’s son Absalom sought to seize Israel’s throne.—2 Samuel 15:1-6.
7 Since David had shown consideration to the lowly, he felt that God would sustain him while he was helpless in a sickbed. (Psalm 18:24-26) Though perilously ill, he was confident that God would ‘change his bed,’ not by miraculously removing the sickness, but by strengthening him with comforting thoughts. It would be as though Jehovah were transforming his bed from one of illness into one of recuperation. Similarly, if we are suffering illness as God’s servants, Jehovah’s everlasting arms will support us.
Consolation for the Depressed
8. How has one ailing Christian shown his dependence on God?
8 Sickness may cause mental depression. A seriously ill Christian, who sometimes lacks enough strength even to read, relates: “This runs me through many emotions of depression, feelings of lack of worth, and even tears,” he says. Knowing that Satan wants to crush him with discouragement, he is fighting back, aware that with Jehovah’s help he cannot fail. (James 4:7) This man is an encouragement to others who know that he is trusting in God. (Psalm 29:11) Even when hospitalized, he telephones sick ones and others to build them up spiritually. He himself is upbuilt by listening to audiocassette recordings of Kingdom melodies and articles in this journal and its companion magazine, Awake!, and by association with fellow Christians. This brother says: “I regularly talk to Jehovah in prayer, asking him to give me strength, guidance, comfort, and help to endure.” If you are a Christian experiencing serious health problems, always trust in Jehovah and make his everlasting arms your support.
9. What examples show that mental depression sometimes troubles godly people?
9 Depression is an old problem. While under test, Job spoke as a man feeling abandoned by God. (Job 29:2-5) Concern over the devastated state of Jerusalem and its walls made Nehemiah gloomy, and Peter was so depressed about denying Christ that he wept bitterly. (Nehemiah 2:1-8; Luke 22:62) Epaphroditus was depressed because Christians in Philippi heard he had fallen sick. (Philippians 2:25, 26) Depression plagued some Christians in Thessalonica, for Paul urged the brothers there to “speak consolingly to the depressed souls.” (1 Thessalonians 5:14) So how does God help such individuals?
10. What may be helpful in trying to cope with mental depression?
10 A personal decision must be made about treatment for severe depression.* (Galatians 6:5) Adequate rest and balanced activity may help. Instead of viewing several problems as one major plight, a depressed individual may find it helpful to work at solving them one at a time. Comforting help from congregation elders may be very beneficial, especially if this emotional problem is causing spiritual concern. (James 5:13-15) Above all, it is vital to rely on Jehovah, ‘throwing all our anxiety upon him, because he cares for us.’ Persistent and heartfelt prayer can bring one ‘the peace of God that will guard the heart and mental powers by means of Christ Jesus.’—1 Peter 5:6-11; Philippians 4:6, 7.
Jehovah Helps Us to Endure Grief
11-13. What can help to allay sorrow over the death of a loved one?
11 Another distressing experience is the death of a loved one. Abraham bewailed the loss of his wife, Sarah. (Genesis 23:2) When his son Absalom died, David was grief-stricken. (2 Samuel 18:33) Why, even the perfect man Jesus “gave way to tears” over the death of his friend Lazarus! (John 11:35) So there is sadness when death claims a loved one. But what can help to allay such sorrow?
12 God helps his people to endure the extreme grief of bereavement. His Word says that there will be a resurrection. Hence, we do not “sorrow just as the rest also do who have no hope.” (1 Thessalonians 4:13; Acts 24:15) Jehovah’s spirit helps us to have peace and faith and to meditate on the wonderful future promised in his Word, so that we are not completely overwhelmed by sad thoughts about a dead loved one. Solace also comes from reading the Scriptures and praying to “the God of all comfort.”—2 Corinthians 1:3, 4; Psalm 68:4-6.
13 We can draw comfort from the resurrection hope as did godly Job, who exclaimed: “O that in Sheol you [Jehovah] would conceal me, that you would keep me secret until your anger turns back, that you would set a time limit for me and remember me! If an able-bodied man dies can he live again? All the days of my compulsory service I shall wait, until my relief comes. You will call, and I myself shall answer you. For the work of your hands you will have a yearning.” (Job 14:13-15) Great sadness is not usually experienced when a dear friend goes on a journey, for we expect to see him again. The deep grief that loss of a loved one causes may be somewhat lessened if we look upon the death of a faithful Christian in a similar way. If he had an earthly hope, he will be awakened from the sleep of death here on earth during Christ’s Thousand Year Reign. (John 5:28, 29; Revelation 20:11-13) And if we hope to live on earth forever, we may be here to greet our resurrected loved one.
14. How did two Christian widows cope with the death of their husbands?
14 After her husband’s death, one sister knew that she had to get on with her life in God’s service. Besides keeping busy with ‘plenty to do in the Lord’s work,’ she made a quilt with 800 pieces. (1 Corinthians 15:58) “This was a good project,” she says, “because all the time I was working I could listen to Kingdom melodies and Bible tapes, which kept my mind occupied.” She fondly recalls a visit by an experienced elder and his wife. From the Bible, the elder pointed out that God really cares for widows. (James 1:27) Another Christian woman did not yield to self-pity when her husband died. She appreciated the support of friends and took greater interest in others. “I prayed more often and developed a closer relationship with Jehovah,” she says. And what a blessing it is to have the support of God’s everlasting arms!
Help When We Err
15. What is the substance of David’s words at Psalm 19:7-13?
15 Though we love Jehovah’s law, we err at times. This no doubt distresses us, as it did David, to whom God’s laws, reminders, orders, and judicial decisions were more desirable than gold. He said: “Your own servant has been warned by them; in the keeping of them there is a large reward. Mistakes—who can discern? From concealed sins pronounce me innocent. Also from presumptuous acts hold your servant back; do not let them dominate me. In that case I shall be complete, and I shall have remained innocent from much transgression.” (Psalm 19:7-13) Let us analyze these words.
16. Why should we avoid presumptuousness?
16 Presumptuous acts are much more serious sins than mistakes. Saul was rejected as king for presumptuously offering sacrifice and for sparing Amalekite king Agag and the best spoil, though God had commanded that the Amalekites be devoted to destruction. (1 Samuel 13:8-14; 15:8-19) King Uzziah was stricken with leprosy for presumptuously seizing priestly duties. (2 Chronicles 26:16-21) When the ark of the covenant was being taken to Jerusalem and the cattle drawing the cart nearly caused an upset, God struck Uzzah dead for irreverently grabbing hold of the Ark to steady it. (2 Samuel 6:6, 7) So, if we do not know what to do or whether we are authorized to do something, we should display modesty and consult those having discernment. (Proverbs 11:2; 13:10) Of course, if we have ever been presumptuous, we should pray for forgiveness and ask God to help us guard against presumptuousness in the future.
17. How can concealed sins affect a person, yet how can forgiveness and relief be obtained?
17 Concealed sins may cause distress. According to Psalm 32:1-5, David tried to hide his sin, but he said: “When I kept silent my bones wore out through my groaning all day long. For day and night your hand was heavy upon me. My life’s moisture has been changed as in the dry heat of summer.” Trying to repress a guilty conscience wore David out, and anguish reduced his vigor as a tree loses life-giving moisture during a drought or in summer’s dry heat. He apparently suffered ill effects mentally and physically and lost joy because of failure to confess. Only confession to God could bring pardon and relief. Said David: “Happy is the one whose revolt is pardoned, whose sin is covered. . . . My sin I finally confessed to you, and my error I did not cover. I said: ‘I shall make confession over my transgressions to Jehovah.’ And you yourself pardoned the error of my sins.” Loving help from Christian elders can help to promote spiritual recovery.—Proverbs 28:13; James 5:13-20.
18. What evidence is there that sin can have long-lasting effects, but what can be a source of comfort in such circumstances?
18 Sin may have long-lasting effects. It did for David, who committed adultery with Bath-sheba, maneuvered her husband’s death, and married the pregnant widow. (2 Samuel 11:1-27) Though God showed mercy because of the Kingdom covenant, David’s repentance, and his merciful treatment of others, David experienced ‘calamity out of his own house.’ (2 Samuel 12:1-12) The adulterine child died. David’s son Amnon raped his half sister Tamar and was killed at her brother Absalom’s order. (2 Samuel 12:15-23; 13:1-33) Absalom disgraced David by having relations with David’s concubines. He tried to usurp the throne but met death. (2 Samuel 15:1–18:33) Sin still has an aftermath. For example, a disfellowshipped wrongdoer may repent and be reinstated in the congregation, but it may take years to overcome the tarnished reputation and emotional trauma resulting from sin. Meanwhile, how comforting it is to have Jehovah’s forgiveness and the support of his everlasting arms!
Rescued From the Stresses Upon Us
19. How can God’s spirit be of help when we are severely tried?
19 When severely tried, we may lack sufficient wisdom and strength to make a decision and carry it out. In such a case, God’s spirit “joins in with help for our weakness; for the problem of what we should pray for as we need to we do not know, but the spirit itself pleads for us with groanings unuttered.” (Romans 8:26) If Jehovah brings about a change of circumstances, we should be grateful. Yet, his arm may save us in another way. If we pray for wisdom, Jehovah may by his spirit indicate what we should do and supply the strength needed to do it. (James 1:5-8) With his help, we can endure when “grieved by various trials” and come through them with tested and strengthened faith.—1 Peter 1:6-8.
20. What will we enjoy if we really make Jehovah’s everlasting arms our support?
20 Let us never tire of turning to God in prayer. “My eyes are constantly toward Jehovah, for he it is that brings my feet out of the net,” said David. “Turn your face to me, and show me favor; for I am solitary and afflicted. Distresses of my heart have multiplied; from the stresses upon me O bring me out. See my affliction and my trouble, and pardon all my sins.” (Psalm 25:15-18) Like David, we will enjoy divine deliverance, favor, and forgiveness if we really make Jehovah’s everlasting arms our support.
How Would You Respond?
□ How does Jehovah help his servants who are sick?
□ What may be helpful when we are trying to cope with mental depression?
□ What can help to allay grief over the death of a loved one?
□ How can those concealing their sins get relief?
□ What help is there when Jehovah’s people are severely tried?
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We can draw comfort from the resurrection hope, as did godly Job