Jehovah Listens to the Cry of the Lowly One
AS WISE King Solomon of ancient Israel observed, “time and unforeseen occurrence befall [us] all.” (Eccl. 9:11) A tragic event or a painful trial can severely disrupt our life. For instance, the sudden death of a close family member can be emotionally devastating. In the weeks and months that follow, feelings of grief and despair may be overwhelming. A person can become so disoriented that he feels unworthy to approach Jehovah in prayer.
In such a situation, one needs encouragement, consideration, and love. Reassuringly, the psalmist David sang: “Jehovah is giving support to all who are falling, and is raising up all who are bowed down.” (Ps. 145:14) The Bible tells us that “[Jehovah’s] eyes are roving about through all the earth to show his strength in behalf of those whose heart is complete toward him.” (2 Chron. 16:9) He is “with the one crushed and lowly in spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly ones and to revive the heart of the ones being crushed.” (Isa. 57:15) How does Jehovah provide support and comfort to the one crushed and lowly in spirit?
“A Word at Its Right Time”
One of the ways Jehovah provides help at the right time is through the Christian brotherhood. Christians are admonished to “speak consolingly to the depressed souls.” (1 Thess. 5:14) Expressions of concern and love from compassionate fellow believers can have a stabilizing effect on a person during his time of distress and grief. Comforting words shared in even a brief conversation can do much to revive the spirit of one bowed low. Such thoughtful comments may come from someone who has endured similar mental and emotional anguish. Or they could be insightful observations from a friend who has had much experience in living. In these very practical ways, Jehovah can revive the spirit of a lowly one.
Consider the case of a newly married Christian elder named Alex, who unexpectedly lost his wife in death because she had an incurable illness. One empathetic traveling overseer made a point of sharing words of consolation with Alex. He too had lost his wife in death but had since remarried. The traveling overseer described how his own fragile emotions had overwhelmed him. He felt fine when he was with others in the ministry and at congregation meetings. When he entered his room and closed the door, however, he felt very lonely. “What a relief to know that the feelings I was experiencing were normal and had been experienced by others,” says Alex. Certainly, “a word at its right time” can prove to be a comforting support during distress.—Prov. 15:23.
Another Christian elder, acquainted with several individuals who had lost their mates in death, was motivated to share some encouraging words with Alex. With fellow feeling, he lovingly pointed out that Jehovah knows how we feel and what we need. “If in the months and years to come, a companion becomes a need,” said the brother, “Jehovah’s loving provision now is remarriage.” Of course, not all who lose a mate in death and subsequently desire to remarry are in a position to get married again. But reflecting on the brother’s words, Alex said, “To be reminded that this is Jehovah’s provision relieves you of any negative thoughts that you would be disloyal to your mate or to Jehovah’s marital arrangement by remarrying in the future.”—1 Cor. 7:8, 9, 39.
The psalmist David, who personally experienced many trials and hardships, acknowledged: “The eyes of Jehovah are toward the righteous ones, and his ears are toward their cry for help.” (Ps. 34:15) For a certainty, Jehovah can answer the cry of the lowly one at the right time through the insightful and discerning expressions of compassionate and mature fellow Christians. Such a provision is both precious and practical.
Help Through Christian Meetings
A downhearted person is susceptible to negative thoughts that could push him into isolation. However, Proverbs 18:1 cautions: “One isolating himself will seek his own selfish longing; against all practical wisdom he will break forth.” Alex admitted: “When you lose your mate, your mind is flooded with negative thoughts.” He recalls asking himself: “‘Could I have done anything different? Could I have been more considerate and understanding?’ I didn’t want to be alone. I didn’t want to be single. It is very hard to stop this thought pattern because every day you are reminded that you are alone.”
More than ever, one who is crushed in spirit needs wholesome association. This is readily available at congregation meetings. In such an environment, we open our mind to God’s positive and upbuilding thoughts.
Christian meetings help us to put our situation in proper perspective. As we listen to and meditate on Bible passages, we focus our thoughts on the truly important issues at stake—the vindication of Jehovah’s sovereignty and the sanctification of his name—not just our own personal suffering. Moreover, during such times of spiritual instruction, we are fortified in knowing that even if others are unaware of the distress we are facing or do not understand how we feel, Jehovah surely does. He knows that “because of the pain of the heart there is a stricken spirit.” (Prov. 15:13) The true God wants to help us, and this gives us the motivation and the strength to go on.—Ps. 27:14.
When under extreme pressure from his enemies, King David cried out to God: “My spirit faints away within me; in the midst of me my heart shows itself numbed.” (Ps. 143:4) Adversities often sap a person of physical and emotional strength, even numbing the heart. Affliction may come upon us in the form of sickness or long-term physical infirmities. We can be confident that Jehovah will help us to endure. (Ps. 41:1-3) While God does not miraculously cure anyone today, he does grant the sufferer the wisdom and fortitude needed to deal with his condition. Bear in mind that when weighed down with trials, David turned to Jehovah. “I have remembered days of long ago,” he sang. “I have meditated on all your activity; I willingly kept myself concerned with the work of your own hands.”—Ps. 143:5.
The fact that these inspired sentiments are recorded in God’s Word indicates that Jehovah understands how we feel. Such words are a guarantee that he listens to our pleadings. If we accept Jehovah’s help, ‘he himself will sustain us.’—Ps. 55:22.
James 4:8 states: “Draw close to God, and he will draw close to you.” One way to come near to God is through prayer. The apostle Paul admonishes us to “pray incessantly.” (1 Thess. 5:17) Even if we have to struggle to put our feelings into words, “the spirit itself pleads for us with groanings unuttered.” (Rom. 8:26, 27) Jehovah certainly understands how we feel.
Monika, who enjoys such intimacy with Jehovah, says: “Through prayer, Bible reading, and personal study, I have come to feel that Jehovah has become my closest Friend. He has become so real to me that I can see his hand in my life constantly. It is a comfort to know that even when I cannot explain how I feel, he understands me. I know that his kindnesses and blessings are endless.”
By all means, then, let us accept the loving and consoling expressions of fellow Christians, apply the kind counsel and faith-strengthening reminders heard at Christian meetings, and pour out our heart to Jehovah in prayer. These timely provisions are Jehovah’s way of showing us that he cares for us. Alex speaks from personal experience when he says, “If we do our part to keep up with all that Jehovah God provides for us to keep us strong spiritually, we will have ‘power beyond what is normal’ to endure any trial we may face.”—2 Cor. 4:7.
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Comfort for the Lowly One
The psalms are rich with expressions of human emotions coupled with repeated assurances that Jehovah does listen to the cry of a lowly one who is overwhelmed by emotional stresses. Consider the following stanzas:
“In my distress I kept calling upon Jehovah, and to my God I kept crying for help. Out of his temple he proceeded to hear my voice, and my own cry before him for help now came into his ears.”—Ps. 18:6.
“Jehovah is near to those that are broken at heart; and those who are crushed in spirit he saves.”—Ps. 34:18.
“He [Jehovah] is healing the brokenhearted ones, and is binding up their painful spots.”—Ps. 147:3.
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How comforting “a word at its right time” can be on the day of distress!