Make Jehovah Your Confidence
“You are my hope, O Sovereign Lord Jehovah, my confidence from my youth.”—Psalm 71:5.
1. What challenge faced the shepherd boy David?
THE man stood well over nine feet [almost 3 meters] tall. Little wonder that all the soldiers of the battle lines of Israel were afraid to face him! For weeks on end, every morning and every evening, the Philistine giant Goliath taunted the army of Israel, challenging them to send a champion out to fight him. Finally, the challenge was accepted, not by a soldier, but by a mere youth. The shepherd boy David was dwarfed by his opponent. Why, he may have weighed less than Goliath’s armor and weapons! Still, the youth faced the giant and became an enduring symbol of courage.—1 Samuel 17:1-51.
2, 3. (a) Why was David able to face Goliath so confidently? (b) We will discuss what two steps to take to make Jehovah our confidence?
2 What gave David such courage? Consider some words evidently written by David in his later years: “You are my hope, O Sovereign Lord Jehovah, my confidence from my youth.” (Psalm 71:5) Yes, as a youth, David had trusted in Jehovah implicitly. He had faced Goliath, saying: “You are coming to me with a sword and with a spear and with a javelin, but I am coming to you with the name of Jehovah of armies, the God of the battle lines of Israel, whom you have taunted.” (1 Samuel 17:45) Whereas Goliath’s confidence was in his great strength and in his weaponry, David’s confidence was in Jehovah. With the Sovereign Lord of the universe on his side, why should David give in to fear of a mere man, however large and well-armed he might be?
3 As you read about David, do you find yourself wishing that your own confidence in Jehovah were stronger? Likely, many of us do. So let us examine two steps that we can take to make Jehovah our confidence. First, we need to gain and maintain mastery over a common hindrance to such confidence. Second, we need to learn just what is involved in trusting in Jehovah.
Overcoming a Common Obstacle to Confidence in Jehovah
4, 5. Why do many people find it hard to put confidence in God?
4 What hinders people from putting their confidence in God? All too often, some are confused about why bad things happen. Many are taught that God is responsible for suffering. When a tragedy strikes, clergymen may say that God “took” the victims to be with him in heaven. Furthermore, many religious leaders teach that God long ago predestined every event—including every tragedy and wicked deed—that takes place in this world. It would be difficult to put confidence in such a hardhearted God. Satan, who blinds the minds of unbelievers, is eager to promote all such “teachings of demons.”—1 Timothy 4:1; 2 Corinthians 4:4.
5 Satan wants people to lose confidence in Jehovah. That enemy of God does not want us to know the real causes of human suffering. And if we have learned the Scriptural reasons for suffering, Satan would like us to forget them. Therefore, it is good for us to review from time to time three basic reasons why there is suffering in the world. By doing so, we may reassure our hearts that Jehovah is not responsible for the troubles we face in life.—Philippians 1:9, 10.
6. How does 1 Peter 5:8 point out one reason for human suffering?
6 One reason for human suffering is that Satan wants to break the integrity of Jehovah’s faithful people. He tried to break Job’s integrity. Satan failed then, but he has not given up. As the ruler of this world, he seeks to “devour” Jehovah’s faithful servants. (1 Peter 5:8) That includes each one of us! Satan wants to get us to stop serving Jehovah. Thus, he often foments persecution. Painful though such suffering is, we have good reason to endure. By doing so, we help to prove Satan a liar and thus delight Jehovah. (Job 2:4; Proverbs 27:11) As Jehovah strengthens us to endure persecution, our confidence in him grows.—Psalm 9:9, 10.
7. Galatians 6:7 helps us to recognize what reason for suffering?
7 A second reason for suffering is found in this principle: “Whatever a man is sowing, this he will also reap.” (Galatians 6:7) Sometimes people sow by making bad choices and reap a measure of suffering as a consequence. They may choose to drive recklessly, resulting in an accident. Many choose to smoke cigarettes, leading to heart disease or lung cancer. Those who choose to engage in immoral sexual conduct risk suffering ruined family relationships, loss of self-respect, sexually transmitted diseases, and unwanted pregnancies. People may seek to blame God for such suffering, but they are actually the victims of their own bad decisions.—Proverbs 19:3.
8. According to Ecclesiastes 9:11, why do people suffer?
8 A third reason for suffering is stated at Ecclesiastes 9:11: “I returned to see under the sun that the swift do not have the race, nor the mighty ones the battle, nor do the wise also have the food, nor do the understanding ones also have the riches, nor do even those having knowledge have the favor; because time and unforeseen occurrence befall them all.” Sometimes, people are simply in the wrong place at the wrong time. Regardless of our personal strengths or weaknesses, suffering and death may overtake any of us unexpectedly at any time. For instance, in Jesus’ day a tower in Jerusalem fell and killed 18 people. Jesus showed that God was not punishing them for prior sins. (Luke 13:4) No, Jehovah is not to blame for such suffering.
9. What do many not understand about suffering?
9 Understanding some of the causes of suffering is important. However, there is an aspect of the matter that many find difficult to understand. It is this: Why does Jehovah God allow suffering?
Why Does Jehovah Allow Suffering?
10, 11. (a) According to Romans 8:19-22, what happened to “all creation”? (b) How may we determine who it was that subjected creation to futility?
10 A passage in the apostle Paul’s letter to the Romans sheds light on this important subject. Paul wrote: “The eager expectation of the creation is waiting for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not by its own will but through him that subjected it, on the basis of hope that the creation itself also will be set free from enslavement to corruption and have the glorious freedom of the children of God. For we know that all creation keeps on groaning together and being in pain together until now.”—Romans 8:19-22.
11 To grasp the point of these verses, we first need to resolve some key questions. For instance, Who subjected the creation to futility? Some have pointed to Satan; others to Adam. But neither could have done the subjecting. Why not? Because the one who subjects the creation to futility does so “on the basis of hope.” Yes, he offers hope that faithful ones will eventually be “set free from enslavement to corruption.” Neither Adam nor Satan could offer such a hope. Only Jehovah could. Clearly, then, it was he who subjected creation to futility.
12. What confusion has arisen as to the identity of “all creation,” and how may this question be answered?
12 What, though, is “all creation” referred to in this passage? Some say that “all creation” refers to the entire natural world, including animals and vegetation. But do beasts and plants hope to attain “the glorious freedom of the children of God”? No. (2 Peter 2:12) “All creation,” then, can refer only to mankind. This is the creation that is affected by sin and death because of the rebellion in Eden and that lives in desperate need of hope.—Romans 5:12.
13. What did the rebellion in Eden do to mankind?
13 What, exactly, did that rebellion do to mankind? Paul describes its results with a single word: futility.* According to one reference work, this word describes “the futility of an object which does not function as it was designed to do.” Humans were designed to live forever, working together as a perfect, united family in taking care of a paradisaic earth. Instead, they lead a short, painful, and often frustrating existence. As Job put it, “man, born of woman, is short-lived and glutted with agitation.” (Job 14:1) Futility indeed!
14, 15. (a) What evidence of justice do we find in Jehovah’s sentence upon mankind? (b) Why did Paul say that creation was subjected to futility “not by its own will”?
14 Now we come to the key question: Why did “the Judge of all the earth” subject mankind to this painful, frustrating existence? (Genesis 18:25) Was he just in doing so? Well, remember what our first parents did. In rebelling against God, they took sides with Satan, who raised a sweeping challenge to Jehovah’s sovereignty. By their actions, they supported the assertion that man is better off without Jehovah, ruling himself under the guidance of a rebel spirit creature. In sentencing the rebels, Jehovah, in effect, gave them what they asked for. He allowed man to rule himself under the influence of Satan. Under the circumstances, what decision could be more profoundly just than subjecting mankind to futility but on the basis of hope?
15 Of course, this was not creation’s “own will.” We are born as slaves to sin and corruption without any choice in the matter. But Jehovah in his mercy allowed Adam and Eve to live out their lives and bear offspring. Though we, their descendants, are subjected to the futility of sin and death, we have the opportunity to do what Adam and Eve failed to do. We can listen to Jehovah and learn that his sovereignty is righteous and ideal, while human rule apart from Jehovah brings only pain, frustration, and futility. (Jeremiah 10:23; Revelation 4:11) And Satan’s influence only makes matters worse. Human history testifies to these truths.—Ecclesiastes 8:9.
16. (a) Why may we be certain that Jehovah is not responsible for the suffering we see in the world today? (b) What hope has Jehovah lovingly provided for faithful people?
16 Clearly, Jehovah had just reasons for subjecting mankind to futility. Does that mean, though, that Jehovah is the cause of the futility and suffering that afflict each one of us today? Well, think of a judge who pronounces a just sentence upon a criminal. The convict may suffer considerably while he serves out his sentence, but can he rightly blame the judge for being the cause of his suffering? By no means! Furthermore, Jehovah is never the source of wickedness. James 1:13 says: “With evil things God cannot be tried nor does he himself try anyone.” Let us remember, too, that Jehovah pronounced this sentence “on the basis of hope.” He has lovingly made arrangements for faithful descendants of Adam and Eve to see the end of futility and to delight in “the glorious freedom of the children of God.” Throughout eternity, faithful mankind will never have to worry that all creation might again descend into a painful state of futility. Jehovah’s just handling of things will have established the rightfulness of his sovereignty for all time.—Isaiah 25:8.
17. How should we be affected by reviewing the reasons for suffering in the world today?
17 As we review these reasons for human suffering, do we see any basis for blaming wickedness on Jehovah or for losing our confidence in him? On the contrary, such a study gives us reason to echo these words of Moses: “The Rock, perfect is his activity, for all his ways are justice. A God of faithfulness, with whom there is no injustice; righteous and upright is he.” (Deuteronomy 32:4) By meditating on these matters, let us refresh our understanding of them from time to time. That way, when we face trials, we will resist Satan’s efforts to sow doubts in our minds. What, though, of the second step mentioned at the outset? What is involved in trusting in Jehovah?
What It Means to Trust in Jehovah
18, 19. With what words does the Bible encourage us to trust in Jehovah, but in that regard, what mistaken ideas do some entertain?
18 God’s Word urges us: “Trust in Jehovah with all your heart and do not lean upon your own understanding. In all your ways take notice of him, and he himself will make your paths straight.” (Proverbs 3:5, 6) Those are beautiful, reassuring words. Surely no one in all the universe is more trustworthy than our beloved heavenly Father. Nevertheless, it is easier to read those words in Proverbs than to put them into practice.
19 Many have mistaken ideas about what it means to trust in Jehovah. Some think of such trust merely as a feeling, a kind of blissful emotion that should well up naturally in the heart. Others seem to believe that trusting in God means that we can expect him to shield us from every difficulty, to solve our every problem, to make every daily challenge turn out just as we hope—and right away! But such notions are unfounded. Trust is much more than a mere feeling, and it is not unrealistic. In adults, trust involves making conscious, reasoned decisions.
20, 21. What is involved in trusting in Jehovah? Illustrate.
20 Note again what Proverbs 3:5 says. It contrasts trusting in Jehovah with leaning on our own understanding, suggesting that we cannot do both. Does that mean that we are not allowed to use our powers of understanding? No, for Jehovah, who gave us those powers, expects us to use them in serving him. (Romans 12:1) But on what do we lean, or depend? If our thinking fails to harmonize with Jehovah’s, do we accept his wisdom for what it is—infinitely superior to ours? (Isaiah 55:8, 9) To trust in Jehovah means to let his thinking guide our own.
21 To illustrate: Think of a small child sitting in the backseat of a car, with his parents in front. His father is at the wheel. When difficulties arise during the journey—a question about the proper route or perhaps a problem with the weather or the condition of the road—how does an obedient, trusting child react? Does he shout directions from the backseat, telling his father how to handle the car? Does he question his parents’ decisions or resist when they remind him to stay buckled up in his seat? No, he naturally trusts his parents to handle such matters, imperfect though they are. In Jehovah, we have a perfect Father. Should we not trust in him implicitly, especially when we face challenging situations?—Isaiah 30:21.
22, 23. (a) Why should we put our trust in Jehovah when we are faced with problems, and how may we do so? (b) What will be discussed in the following article?
22 However, Proverbs 3:6 indicates that we should ‘take notice of Jehovah in all our ways,’ not only when we face difficult situations. So the day-to-day decisions we make in life should reflect our trust in Jehovah. When problems arise, we should not despair, panic, or resist Jehovah’s guidance regarding the best way to handle matters. We need to view trials as opportunities to support Jehovah’s sovereignty, to help prove Satan a liar, and to build obedience and other qualities that please Jehovah.—Hebrews 5:7, 8.
23 We can show our trust in Jehovah no matter what obstacles may loom before us. We do so in our prayers and in the way we look to Jehovah’s Word and to his organization for guidance. Specifically, though, how can we display trust in Jehovah when faced with the problems that arise in today’s world? Our next article will take up that subject.
The Greek word that Paul used for “futility” was the same one used in the Greek Septuagint to render the expression that Solomon used repeatedly in the book of Ecclesiastes, as in the expression “everything is vanity!”—Ecclesiastes 1:2, 14; 2:11, 17; 3:19; 12:8.
How Would You Answer?
• How did David show that he had made Jehovah his confidence?
• What are three causes of human suffering today, and why is it good to review them from time to time?
• Jehovah pronounced what sentence upon humankind, and why was it a just sentence?
• What is involved in trusting in Jehovah?
[Pictures on page 8]
David made Jehovah his confidence
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Jesus showed that when a certain tower fell in Jerusalem, Jehovah was not responsible