Have No Fear—Jehovah Is With You!
MORE than 50 years ago, shortly after the first nuclear bombs exploded, Nobel Prize-winning scientist Harold C. Urey said of the future: “We will eat fear, sleep fear, live in fear and die in fear.” Today, our world is, indeed, glutted with fear, and no wonder! On a daily basis, newspapers herald forth horrifying accounts of terrorism, violent crimes, and mysterious illnesses.
As Christians, we know what such conditions mean. They indicate that we are living in “the last days” of this wicked system, which the Bible foretold would be characterized by “critical times hard to deal with.” (2 Timothy 3:1) Our confidence is thus strengthened that Jehovah God will soon bring about a new world in which righteousness will dwell. (2 Peter 3:13) In the meantime, though, are we immune to fear?
Fear and God’s Servants
Jacob, David, and Elijah were among Jehovah’s servants who experienced a degree of fear when faced with potential danger. (Genesis 32:6, 7; 1 Samuel 21:11, 12; 1 Kings 19:2, 3) These men did not lack faith. On the contrary, they demonstrated steadfast reliance on Jehovah. Nevertheless, Jacob, David, and Elijah were human; hence, they were susceptible to fear. “Elijah was a man with feelings like ours,” wrote the disciple James.—James 5:17.
We too might feel apprehensive as we contemplate an obstacle that we are facing now or one that we may encounter in the future. Such fear is understandable. After all, the Bible says that Satan the Devil is determined to “wage war” with those “who observe the commandments of God and have the work of bearing witness to Jesus.” (Revelation 12:17) While those words apply specifically to anointed Christians, Paul wrote: “All those desiring to live with godly devotion in association with Christ Jesus will also be persecuted.” (2 Timothy 3:12) Still, fear need not paralyze us when we are confronted with problems. Why?
“A God of Saving Acts”
The psalmist David wrote: “The true God is for us a God of saving acts.” (Psalm 68:20) Jehovah has repeatedly demonstrated his ability to save his people, either by delivering them from perilous situations or by giving them the strength to endure. (Psalm 34:17; Daniel 6:22; 1 Corinthians 10:13) From your study of the Bible, how many of such “saving acts” can you recall?
Using the Watch Tower Publications Index,* why not do research on such true-life events as the global Deluge of Noah’s day, the deliverance of Lot and his daughters from Sodom and Gomorrah, Israel’s Exodus from Egypt and trek through the Red Sea, or Haman’s foiled plot to destroy the Jews? Reading and then meditating on these thrilling accounts will strengthen your faith that Jehovah is a God of saving acts. This, in turn, will help you to face tests of your faith fearlessly.
Can you think of present-day examples of endurance in your own area? It might be someone who has been imprisoned for a faithful course. You might know of an elderly Christian who is serving Jehovah despite poor health. Or think of youths who remain separate from the world despite tremendous pressure from their schoolmates. Then there are single parents, who without a mate are raising children, or unmarried individuals who serve Jehovah despite feelings of loneliness. What do you learn from such ones? Contemplating their faithful course can help you to endure and to remain fearless despite whatever trials you may face.
Fearlessness is needed not only if we confront opposition and persecution but also if we begin to doubt Jehovah’s love for us. We need to cultivate confidence that Christ’s ransom applies to us as individuals. (Galatians 2:20) Then we can approach Jehovah without inappropriate fear or dread. If we feel unworthy of Jehovah’s love, we can reflect on Jesus’ words to his followers: “Do not two sparrows sell for a coin of small value? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground without your Father’s knowledge. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Therefore have no fear: you are worth more than many sparrows.”—Matthew 10:29-31.
The Watchtower and Awake! magazines often publish experiences of modern-day Witnesses of Jehovah who have faced challenges fearlessly. This does not mean that they did not have negative emotions about their plight. But they did not let such feelings cause them to stop serving Jehovah. Their published accounts can help you to endure fearlessly too. Consider two examples.
An Injury Changed His Life
The April 22, 2003, issue of Awake! contained the article “How an Injury Changed My Life.” In it, Stanley Ombeva, one of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Kenya, outlines the challenges he faced as a result of being struck by a speeding vehicle. As his health deteriorated, he lost his job and all benefits. “As the reality of my condition sank in,” Brother Ombeva admits in his account, “I became negative, self-centered, and irritable. At times, I was angry and bitter.” Despite his ordeal, this Christian man remained fearless. He did not let disappointment overwhelm him and cause him to give up entirely. Instead, he relied on Jehovah. “He always supported me in all that I went through—so much so, that I was ashamed of myself at times,” Brother Ombeva says. “I made a strong resolve to read and meditate on scriptures I knew to be comforting in my situation.”
Brother Ombeva’s frank comments enabled many others to endure trials fearlessly. “I wept when I read this article,” wrote one Christian sister. “I felt that through this article Jehovah was demonstrating his warmth and loving care and providing me with comfort.” Another Witness wrote: “Articles like this give great encouragement to those of us who are experiencing similar situations and who suffer in silence.”
Coping With Emotional Distress
Another moving experience is that of Herbert Jennings, related in the article “You Do Not Know What Your Life Will Be Tomorrow.”* Brother Jennings copes with bipolar disorder. Reflecting on the early days of his illness, he says: “It was a real struggle just to attend Christian meetings. Nevertheless, I was absolutely convinced of the value of spiritual association. To cope, I usually entered the Kingdom Hall after the crowd settled down and left just before it began to stir at the end of the program.”
Preaching was also difficult. “Sometimes, even after arriving at a house, I simply could not bring myself to the point of ringing the doorbell,” Brother Jennings relates. “I would not quit, however, because I realized that our ministry means salvation to ourselves and to any who respond favorably. (1 Timothy 4:16) After a while, I would be able to bring my emotions under control, go to the next door, and try again. By continuing to share in the ministry, I maintained reasonable spiritual health, and that increased my ability to cope.”
Brother Jennings’ candid account helped many readers to face their distresses with similar fearlessness. For example, one Christian sister wrote: “In the 28 years that I have been reading the Watchtower and Awake! magazines, I have never been as deeply moved as I was when I read this article. I had to discontinue my full-time service and felt very guilty, feeling that if I had had more faith, I could have continued. Reading how Brother Jennings had to give up an assignment to care for his illness helped me to view my situation in a balanced way. This was truly an answer to my prayers!”
Similarly, a Christian brother wrote: “After serving as a congregation elder for ten years, I had to relinquish my privilege because of a mental illness. My feelings of failure were such that it was often too depressing for me to read the life-story articles, which often recount extraordinary accomplishments of Jehovah’s people. But Brother Jennings’ perseverance was uplifting to me. I’ve read the article countless times.”
Moving Forward With Confidence
Like Brothers Ombeva and Jennings, many of Jehovah’s Witnesses continue fearlessly worshipping Jehovah God despite daunting obstacles. If you are among them, you are to be commended. Be assured: “God is not unrighteous so as to forget your work and the love you showed for his name, in that you have ministered to the holy ones and continue ministering.”—Hebrews 6:10.
Just as Jehovah helped his faithful people of ancient times to conquer their foes, he can help you to gain the victory over any obstacle that you may encounter. Therefore, take to heart the words that Jehovah spoke through the prophet Isaiah: “Do not be afraid, for I am with you. Do not gaze about, for I am your God. I will fortify you. I will really help you. I will really keep fast hold of you with my right hand of righteousness.”—Isaiah 41:10.
Published by Jehovah’s Witnesses.
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Like Stanley Ombeva (above) and Herbert Jennings (right), many are serving Jehovah fearlessly
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