Jehovah Will By No Means Leave You
CHRISTIANS in Judaea were experiencing vicious opposition, and they had to contend with the materialistic view of people around them. To encourage them, the apostle Paul quoted the words of Jehovah to the Israelites as they were entering the Promised Land. Paul wrote: “I will by no means leave you nor by any means forsake you.” (Hebrews 13:5; Deuteronomy 31:6) This promise undoubtedly strengthened the first-century Hebrew Christians.
The same promise should fortify us to cope with anxieties that come from living in “critical times hard to deal with.” (2 Timothy 3:1) If we trust in Jehovah and act accordingly, he will sustain us even in the most difficult circumstances. To see how Jehovah can act on this promise, let us consider the example of a sudden loss of one’s livelihood.
Facing the Unexpected
The number of unemployed is growing worldwide. According to a Polish magazine, unemployment is considered to be “one of the most difficult socioeconomic problems.” Industrialized nations are no exception. For example, even among the members of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, by 2004 unemployment had “risen to above 32 million, reaching a higher level than during the Great Depression of the 1930’s.” In Poland, the Central Statistical Office listed three million unemployed as of December 2003, which “constituted 18 percent of civilians of working age.” One source said that the unemployment rate among the African population in South Africa reached 47.8 percent in 2002!
Sudden unemployment and unexpected layoffs are real threats to many, including Jehovah’s servants. “Time and unforeseen occurrence” befall anyone. (Ecclesiastes 9:11) We may find ourselves uttering the words of the psalmist David: “Distresses of my heart have multiplied.” (Psalm 25:17) Would you be able to cope with such unfavorable circumstances? They could affect your emotional, spiritual, and material well-being. If unemployed, could you manage to get back on your feet?
Coping With Emotional Strain
“The loss of employment hurts men more,” since they are traditionally viewed as the breadwinner of the family, explains psychologist Janusz Wietrzyński. He said that it can start a man on “a roller coaster of emotions,” from anger to resignation. A father who has been laid off may lose his self-esteem and start “quarreling with his family.”
Adam, a Christian father of two, explains how he felt when he lost his job: “I easily became agitated; everything irritated me. Even at night my dreams were all about work and how to provide for my children and my wife, who had also been laid off unexpectedly.” When Ryszard and Mariola, a married couple with a child, lost their means of income, they had a large, outstanding bank loan. The wife relates: “I was constantly troubled, my conscience telling me that it was a mistake to have taken out that loan. I kept thinking that it was all my fault.” Faced with such situations, we may easily feel angry, anxious, or bitter, and our emotions can get the better of us. How, then, can we control the negative emotions that may well up in us?
The Bible gives effective advice on how to maintain a positive attitude. “Do not be anxious over anything,” the apostle Paul admonished, “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 your mental powers by means of Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6, 7) Approaching Jehovah in prayer will give us “the peace of God,” a calm state of mind based on our faith in him. Adam’s wife, Irena, says: “In our prayers, we told Jehovah about our situation and how we would simplify our lives even more. My husband, who has usually been quick to find reasons to be anxious, began to feel that a solution would present itself.”
If you are faced with the unexpected loss of your job, you are in a good position to apply Jesus Christ’s admonition in the Sermon on the Mount: “Stop being anxious about your souls as to what you will eat or what you will drink, or about your bodies as to what you will wear. . . . Keep on, then, seeking first the kingdom and his righteousness, and all these other things will be added to you.” (Matthew 6:25, 33) Ryszard and Mariola applied this counsel in coping with their emotions. “My husband always comforted me and emphasized that Jehovah would not abandon us,” recalls Mariola. Her husband adds: “Through persistent prayers together, we have drawn closer to God and to each other, and that has provided the needed comfort.”
God’s holy spirit will also help us to cope. Self-control, which the spirit can produce in us, can help us to keep ourselves and our feelings intact. (Galatians 5:22, 23) It may not be easy, but it is possible, for Jesus promised that “the Father in heaven [will] give holy spirit to those asking him.”—Luke 11:13; 1 John 5:14, 15.
Do Not Neglect Your Spiritual Needs
Unexpected dismissal from a job may at first unnerve even the most balanced Christian, but we should not neglect our spiritual needs. Take, for example, 40-year-old Moses, whose whole life changed when he lost his position within the aristocracy and had to become a shepherd, a job the Egyptians despised. (Genesis 46:34) Moses had to adjust to his new circumstances. For the following 40 years, he allowed Jehovah to mold and prepare him for new tasks ahead. (Exodus 2:11-22; Acts 7:29, 30; Hebrews 11:24-26) Despite facing difficulties, Moses was spiritually focused, willing to accept Jehovah’s training. May we never allow unfavorable circumstances to overshadow our spiritual values!
Although suddenly losing a job can be traumatic, that is a good time to strengthen our bonds with Jehovah God and his people. Adam, mentioned earlier, felt that way. He says: “When my wife and I both lost our jobs, the thought of staying away from Christian meetings or reducing our share in the evangelizing work never crossed our minds. That perspective protected us from becoming overly worried about tomorrow.” Ryszard shares similar sentiments: “If it were not for the meetings and the ministry, we could never have coped; we would definitely have been eaten up by worry. Spiritual conversations with others are uplifting, for they turn our attention to their needs and away from our own.”—Philippians 2:4.
Yes, instead of worrying about employment, try to use the extra time for spiritual activities, engaging in personal study, sharing in congregational activities, or expanding your ministry. Rather than living the life of the unemployed, you will have “plenty to do in the work of the Lord”—which will bring joy both to you and to any sincere individuals who respond to the Kingdom message you preach.—1 Corinthians 15:58.
Providing for Your Family Materially
However, spiritual nourishment will not fill an empty stomach. We do well to keep in mind the following principle: “Certainly if anyone does not provide for those who are his own, and especially for those who are members of his household, he has disowned the faith and is worse than a person without faith.” (1 Timothy 5:8) “Even though the brothers in the congregation are quick to respond to our physical needs,” Adam admits, “as Christians, we have an obligation to work at searching for employment.” We can count on Jehovah’s support and that of his people, but we should never forget that we need to take the initiative to find a job.
What initiative? “Do not wait with folded arms for God to act, hoping for a miracle,” explains Adam. “When you are looking for work, do not hesitate to identify yourself as one of Jehovah’s Witnesses. Employers usually value that.” Ryszard gives this advice: “Ask anyone you know about job opportunities, keep checking at the employment agency, read advertisements, such as: ‘Wanted, woman to care for a disabled person’; or, ‘Temporary employment: Strawberry picking.’ Keep on searching! Do not be too choosy, even if you have to do something menial or something that does not fulfill your ambitions.”
Yes, “Jehovah is [your] helper.” He will “by no means leave you nor by any means forsake you.” (Hebrews 13:5, 6) You do not have to be overly anxious. The psalmist David wrote: “Roll upon Jehovah your way, and rely upon him, and he himself will act.” (Psalm 37:5) ‘Rolling our way upon Jehovah’ means that we rely on him and do things his way, even when circumstances may not look favorable to us.
Adam and Irena managed to support themselves by window washing and stairwell cleaning and by being thrifty when purchasing things. They also visited the employment agency regularly. “Help always came just when we needed it,” notes Irena. Her husband adds: “Time has shown that the matters we brought up in our prayers were not necessarily in line with God’s will. This has taught us to rely on his wisdom and not to act according to our own understanding. It is better to wait calmly for the solution God will provide.”—James 1:4.
Ryszard and Mariola took various odd jobs but at the same time became involved in witnessing in territories where the need was greater. “We got needed jobs right at the times when we had nothing left to eat,” says Ryszard. “We refused well-paying jobs that would interfere with our theocratic responsibilities. We preferred to wait on Jehovah.” They believe that Jehovah maneuvered matters so that they were able to rent a flat very cheaply and Ryszard finally found a job.
Losing one’s livelihood can be very painful, but why not view it as an opportunity to see for yourself that Jehovah will never forsake you? Jehovah looks after you. (1 Peter 5:6, 7) He has promised through the prophet Isaiah: “Do not gaze about, for I am your God. I will fortify you. I will really help you.” (Isaiah 41:10) Never allow an unexpected incident, including job loss, to paralyze you. Do everything you can, and then leave the rest in Jehovah’s hands. Wait on Jehovah, “even silently.” (Lamentations 3:26) Rich blessings will be yours.—Jeremiah 17:7.
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Use the time for spiritual activities
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Learn to be thrifty, and do not be too choosy when you are looking for a job