Jehovah Hears Our Cries for Help
“The eyes of Jehovah are toward the righteous ones, and his ears are toward their cry for help.”—PS. 34:15.
1, 2. (a) How do many today feel? (b) Why are we not surprised by this?
ARE you experiencing distress? If so, you are not alone. Millions are struggling to cope with the day-to-day pressures of living in this wicked system of things. For some, it seems almost unbearable. They feel very much as did the psalmist David, who wrote: “I have grown numb and become crushed to an extreme degree; I have roared due to the groaning of my heart. My own heart has palpitated heavily, my power has left me, and the light of my own eyes also is not with me.”—Ps. 38:8, 10.
2 As Christians, we are not surprised by the distresses of life. We understand that “pangs of distress” are part of the foretold sign of Jesus’ presence. (Mark 13:8; Matt. 24:3) The original-language word rendered “pangs of distress” refers to the intense pain experienced during childbirth. How accurately that describes the intensity of people’s suffering in these “critical,” or “fierce,” times that are so “hard to deal with”!—2 Tim. 3:1; Kingdom Interlinear.
Jehovah Understands Our Distresses
3. Of what are God’s people keenly aware?
3 Jehovah’s people are keenly aware that they are not immune to the effects of these distresses, and in all likelihood, adverse conditions will get even worse. In addition to what is experienced by mankind in general, as God’s servants we also face an “adversary, the Devil,” who is determined to undermine our faith. (1 Pet. 5:8) How easy it would be to feel as David did: “Reproach itself has broken my heart, and the wound is incurable. And I kept hoping for someone to show sympathy, but there was none; and for comforters, but I found none”!—Ps. 69:20.
4. What comforts us when we are experiencing distresses?
4 Did David mean that he was without any hope at all? No. Notice his further words in that psalm: “Jehovah is listening to the poor ones, and he will indeed not despise his very own prisoners,” or “those of his who are prisoners.” (Ps. 69:33; ftn.) In a broad sense, we may at times feel as if we were prisoners held captive by our distresses or afflictions. It may appear that others do not truly understand our situation—and perhaps they do not. But like David, we can be comforted in knowing that Jehovah fully understands our distresses.—Ps. 34:15.
5. King Solomon was confident of what?
5 David’s son Solomon highlighted this fact at the dedication of the temple in Jerusalem. (Read 2 Chronicles 6:29-31.) He implored Jehovah to hear the prayer of each honesthearted one who approached Him concerning “his own plague and his own pain.” How would God react to the prayers of these distressed individuals? Solomon expressed his confidence that God would not only hear their prayers but also act in their behalf. Why? Because he truly knows what is in “the heart of the sons of mankind.”
6. How can we cope with anxiety, and why?
6 We can likewise approach Jehovah in prayer concerning ‘our own plague and our own pain,’ our individual distresses. We should be comforted in knowing that he understands our distresses and that he cares about us. The apostle Peter confirmed this when he said: “Throw all your anxiety upon him, because he cares for you.” (1 Pet. 5:7) It matters to Jehovah what happens to us. Jesus emphasized Jehovah’s loving care, saying: “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.”—Matt. 10:29-31.
Rely on Jehovah’s Help
7. What support is assured for us?
7 We can certainly be assured that Jehovah is willing and able to assist us when we are afflicted with distresses. “God is for us a refuge and strength, a help that is readily to be found during distresses.” (Ps. 34:15-18; 46:1) How does God provide that help? Consider what 1 Corinthians 10:13 says: “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.” Jehovah may maneuver matters to remove our adversity, or he may give us the strength we need to endure it. Either way, we are helped.
8. How can we avail ourselves of God’s help?
8 How can we avail ourselves of that help? Notice what we are counseled to do: “Throw all your anxiety upon him.” This means that we figuratively hand over to Jehovah the responsibility for all our cares and concerns. We try to stop worrying and patiently trust in him to care for our needs. (Matt. 6:25-32) Such trust requires humility, not relying on our own strength or wisdom. By humbling ourselves “under the mighty hand of God,” we acknowledge our lowly position. (Read 1 Peter 5:6.) In turn, this helps us to cope with whatever God permits. We may yearn for immediate relief, but we trust that Jehovah knows precisely when and how to act in our behalf.—Ps. 54:7; Isa. 41:10.
9. What type of burden did David need to throw upon Jehovah?
9 Recall David’s words recorded at Psalm 55:22: “Throw your burden upon Jehovah himself, and he himself will sustain you. Never will he allow the righteous one to totter.” When David wrote those words, he was greatly distressed. (Ps. 55:4) It is understood that this psalm was written when his son Absalom schemed to steal the kingship from him. David’s most trusted counselor, Ahithophel, joined in the conspiracy. David had to flee Jerusalem for his life. (2 Sam. 15:12-14) Even under those distressing circumstances, David continued to trust in God, and he was not disappointed.
10. What must we do when facing distresses?
10 It is imperative that we, like David, approach Jehovah in prayer concerning whatever distresses we may be experiencing. Let us consider what the apostle Paul urged us to do in this regard. (Read Philippians 4:6, 7.) What will result from such intense prayer? “The peace of God that excels all thought will guard [our] hearts and [our] mental powers by means of Christ Jesus.”
11. How does “the peace of God” protect our hearts and our mental powers?
11 Will prayer lead to a change in your situation? It may. We should realize, though, that Jehovah does not always answer our prayers in the manner that we may want. Nevertheless, prayer helps us to keep our mental balance, so that our distresses do not overwhelm us. “The peace of God” can stabilize us when we are burdened down with distressing emotions. Like a garrison of soldiers assigned to protect a city from hostile invasion, “the peace of God” will protect our hearts and our mental powers. It will also allow us to rise above our doubts, fears, and negative thoughts and prevent us from reacting rashly and unwisely.—Ps. 145:18.
12. Illustrate how a person can have peace of mind.
12 How can we have peace of mind while undergoing distresses? Consider an illustration that in some respects matches our situation. An employee may work under an abusive manager. However, the employee has an opportunity to express his feelings to the owner of the company, who is a kind, reasonable man. The owner assures the employee that he understands the situation and reveals that the manager will soon be removed from his position. How does that make the employee feel? Believing that assurance and knowing what is about to take place will strengthen his resolve to continue on, even if he has to face a few more difficulties in the meantime. Similarly, we know that Jehovah understands our situation, and he assures us that soon “the ruler of this world will be cast out.” (John 12:31) How comforting that is!
13. In addition to praying, what else must we do?
13 Is it enough, then, for us just to take our problems to Jehovah in prayer? No. More is required. We need to act in harmony with our prayers. When King Saul sent men to David’s home to put him to death, David prayed: “Deliver me from my enemies, O my God; from those rising up against me may you protect me. Deliver me from the practicers of what is hurtful, and from bloodguilty men save me.” (Ps. 59:1, 2) In addition to praying, David listened to his wife and took the necessary action to escape. (1 Sam. 19:11, 12) In a similar way, we can pray for practical wisdom to help us deal with and perhaps improve our distressing circumstances.—Jas. 1:5.
How We Can Have Strength to Endure
14. What can help us to endure when facing adversity?
14 Our adversities may not be removed immediately. They may even continue for some time. If that is the case, what will help us to endure? First, remember that when we continue to serve Jehovah faithfully despite difficulties, we prove our love for him. (Acts 14:22) Keep in mind Satan’s accusation concerning Job: “Would Job worship you if he got nothing out of it? You have always protected him and his family and everything he owns. You bless everything he does, and you have given him enough cattle to fill the whole country. But now suppose you take away everything he has—he will curse you to your face!” (Job 1:9-11, Today’s English Version) By means of his integrity, Job proved that accusation to be a base lie. By our enduring under distressing circumstances, we too have an opportunity to prove Satan a liar. In turn, our endurance strengthens our hope and confidence.—Jas. 1:4.
15. What examples can strengthen us?
15 Second, keep in mind that “the same things in the way of sufferings are being accomplished in the entire association of your brothers in the world.” (1 Pet. 5:9) Yes, “no temptation has taken you except what is common to men.” (1 Cor. 10:13) You can therefore gain strength and courage by meditating on the examples of others rather than focusing on your own difficulties. (1 Thess. 1:5-7; Heb. 12:1) Take time to think about the example of those you know who have endured faithfully despite undergoing painful distresses. Have you searched for life experiences that have been published, looking for accounts of those who have gone through something similar to what you face? You may find these to be very strengthening.
16. How does God strengthen us when we face various trials?
16 Third, remember that Jehovah is “the Father of tender mercies and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those in any sort of tribulation through the comfort with which we ourselves are being comforted by God.” (2 Cor. 1:3, 4) It is as if God were standing by our side to encourage and strengthen us, not just in our present tribulation but “in all our tribulation.” This then enables us to comfort others “in any sort of tribulation.” Paul personally experienced the truthfulness of these words.—2 Cor. 4:8, 9; 11:23-27.
17. How can the Bible help us deal with life’s distresses?
17 Fourth, we have God’s Word, the Bible, which is “beneficial for teaching, for reproving, for setting things straight, for disciplining in righteousness, that the man of God may be fully competent, completely equipped for every good work.” (2 Tim. 3:16, 17) God’s Word does not merely make us “competent” and “equipped for every good work.” It also enables us to deal with life’s distresses. It makes us “fully competent” and “completely equipped.” The original-language word rendered “completely equipped” literally means “having been fitted out.” This word could have been used in ancient times of a boat that was fitted out with everything needed for a voyage or of a machine that was capable of performing whatever was expected of it. Similarly, Jehovah through his Word provides us with all that we need to handle whatever may come our way. Accordingly, we can say, “If God permits it, I can take it, with his help.”
Deliverance From All Our Distresses
18. Focusing on what will further assist us to endure faithfully?
18 Fifth, always keep in focus the marvelous fact that Jehovah will soon relieve mankind of all distresses. (Ps. 34:19; 37:9-11; 2 Pet. 2:9) Ultimately, our deliverance by God means not only the deliverance from present distresses but also the opportunity to have everlasting life, whether in the heavens with Jesus or on a paradise earth.
19. How is faithful endurance possible?
19 Until that time, we continue to deal with the distressing conditions of this wicked world. How we long for the time when these will no longer exist! (Ps. 55:6-8) Let us remember that our faithful endurance proves the Devil a liar. May we gain strength from our prayers and our Christian brotherhood, keeping in mind that our brothers are experiencing trials similar to ours. Continue to be fully competent and completely equipped by making good use of God’s Word. Never allow your trust in the loving care provided by “the God of all comfort” to waver. Remember that “the eyes of Jehovah are toward the righteous ones, and his ears are toward their cry for help.”—Ps. 34:15.
Can You Answer?
• How did David feel about distresses he faced?
• What confidence did King Solomon express?
• What can help us cope with what Jehovah permits?
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Solomon was confident that Jehovah would act in behalf of His distressed people
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David threw his burden on Jehovah in prayer and then acted on what he prayed for