“Trust in him at all times, O people.”—PS. 62:8.
1-3. How was Paul’s trust in Jehovah strengthened? (See opening image.)
IT WAS a dangerous time to be a Christian in Rome. Blamed for setting fire to the city in 64 C.E. and accused of hating mankind, Christ’s followers were objects of intense hostility. If you were a Christian back then, you would daily face the possibility of being arrested and tortured. Some of your spiritual brothers and sisters might have been torn to pieces by animals or nailed to a stake and burned alive to serve as nighttime illumination.
2 It was likely in this volatile situation that the apostle Paul was imprisoned in Rome for the second time. Would other Christians come to his aid? Paul may have had some initial concerns in that regard, for he wrote to Timothy: “In my first defense no one came to my side, but they all forsook me—may they not be held accountable.” Even so, Paul acknowledged that he had not been entirely without help. He wrote: “But the Lord stood near me and infused power into me.” Yes, the Lord Jesus provided the power Paul needed. And just how practical was that divine help? Note the results: “I was rescued from the lion’s mouth.”—2 Tim. 4:16, 17.a
3 Recalling that experience must have strengthened Paul, helping him to trust that Jehovah would fortify him to endure his present trials and any future difficulties that might arise. In fact, he immediately went on to say: “The Lord will rescue me from every wicked work.” (2 Tim. 4:18) Yes, Paul had learned that even when human assistance is limited, the help that Jehovah and his Son provide is real!
OPPORTUNITIES TO “TRUST IN JEHOVAH”
4, 5. (a) From whom can you always receive needed assistance? (b) How can you strengthen your relationship with Jehovah?
4 Have you at times felt all alone in dealing with a difficult situation? It could have been lack of employment, pressures at school, a health problem, or some other distressing circumstance. Perhaps you asked for assistance, but others disappointed you by falling far short of providing what you needed. Indeed, some problems simply cannot be solved by mere human help. Under such circumstances, is the Bible’s counsel to “trust in Jehovah” empty advice? (Prov. 3:5, 6) Is it meaningless? Certainly not! Divine help is very real, as illustrated by numerous Bible accounts.
5 Therefore, rather than nurture resentment when human help appears to be limited, view such situations as the apostle did—as opportunities to rely fully on Jehovah and experience firsthand his loving care. This will strengthen your trust in him and make your relationship with him ever more real.
TRUST IS ESSENTIAL TO OUR RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD
6. Why might it be especially challenging to trust in Jehovah when we are under stress?
6 Can you bring a distressing problem to Jehovah in prayer and thereafter be at peace, knowing that you have done what you can about the situation and he will handle the rest? Yes, you can! (Read Psalm 62:8; 1 Peter 5:7.) Learning to do so is an important aspect of developing a relationship with Jehovah. Yet, trusting that Jehovah will provide what you need can be quite a challenge. Why? One reason may be that Jehovah does not always respond right away.—Ps. 13:1, 2; 74:10; 89:46; 90:13; Hab. 1:2.
7. Why does Jehovah not always answer our prayers immediately?
7 Why does Jehovah not give us an immediate response to our every request? Recall that he likens our relationship with him to that of children with a father. (Ps. 103:13) A child cannot rightly expect a parent to grant every request or to do so right away. Some of a child’s requests may be mere passing whims. Others must wait till the time is right. Still others may not be in the child’s best interests or in the best interests of others involved. Furthermore, to concede immediately to a child’s every request would change the relationship to one of master and slave, the child being the master. Similarly, Jehovah may in our best interests allow time to pass before his response to our prayers becomes evident. That is his prerogative as our wise Creator, loving Master, and heavenly Father. Fulfilling all our requests right away would distort the proper relationship between us and him.—Compare Isaiah 29:16; 45:9.
8. What does Jehovah promise with regard to our personal limitations?
8 Another factor is that Jehovah is fully aware of our limitations. (Ps. 103:14) Therefore, he does not expect us to endure in our own strength but offers us his fatherly help. Of course, at times, we might feel that we cannot go on anymore. But Jehovah assures us that he will never allow his servants to suffer beyond their limit of endurance. Yes, he will “make the way out.” (Read 1 Corinthians 10:13.) Therefore, we have good reason to trust that Jehovah’s assessment of what we can bear is right.
9. What should we do when relief does not immediately follow our prayers for help?
9 When relief does not immediately follow our prayers for help, let us wait on the One who knows just when to act in our behalf. Remember that he too is exercising patience, for he is ever eager to come to our rescue. “Jehovah is waiting patiently to show you favor, and he will rise up to show you mercy. For Jehovah is a God of justice. Happy are all those keeping in expectation of him.”—Isa. 30:18.
“THE LION’S MOUTH”
10-12. (a) How might circumstances become particularly difficult for a Christian who is caring for a chronically ill family member? (b) How will trusting in Jehovah during difficult times affect one’s relationship with him? Illustrate.
10 When under severe hardship, you may feel as did Paul—that you are in or at least very near “the lion’s mouth.” These are times when trust in Jehovah is most challenging—and most essential. For example, suppose you are nursing a dear family member through a chronic illness. Perhaps you have prayed for wisdom and strength.b Having done all you can in this regard, do you not find a measure of peace in knowing that Jehovah has his eye upon you and will provide what you need to endure faithfully?—Ps. 32:8.
11 Circumstances might make it seem otherwise. You might receive conflicting opinions from doctors. Or relatives who you had hoped would provide comfort might instead seem to make the situation more difficult for you. Keep looking to Jehovah for strength. Keep drawing close to him. (Read 1 Samuel 30:3, 6.) When relief comes, your relationship with him will be stronger.
12 Lindac came to know the truthfulness of this after some years of helping to care for her ailing parents during their final years. “While in the situation, my husband, brother, and I often found it hard to know what to do. We felt helpless at times. Looking back, however, we see more clearly how Jehovah proved to be with us. He strengthened us and provided just what we needed, even when it seemed that we had run out of options.”
13. How did trusting in Jehovah help one sister to cope with a series of distressing experiences?
13 Implicit trust in Jehovah can also help when we are faced with tragedy. At the time that Rhonda’s non-Witness husband was filing for divorce, her brother was diagnosed with lupus, a potentially life-threatening illness. A few months later, her brother’s wife died. When Rhonda felt that she had begun to recover from these traumatic experiences, she started regular pioneering. Soon thereafter her mother died. What helped Rhonda cope? She explains: “I communicated with Jehovah every day, even with regard to small decisions. Doing so made Jehovah real to me. It taught me to rely on him rather than on myself or even on other people. And the help he gave me was real—all my needs were cared for. As a result, I have experienced working hand in hand with Jehovah.”
14. What trust can a faithful Christian whose relative is disfellowshipped have?
14 Consider another situation. Suppose a beloved relative is disfellowshipped. From your study of the Bible, you know how disfellowshipped ones are to be treated. (1 Cor. 5:11; 2 John 10) Yet, upholding the disfellowshipping decision may at times seem very difficult, even impossible.d Can you trust that your heavenly Father will give you the fortitude you need to be resolute in abiding by the Bible’s direction about disfellowshipping? Do you see here an opportunity for you to make your relationship with Jehovah stronger by forming a closer bond with him?
15. Why did Adam disobey Jehovah’s command in Eden?
15 In this regard, think for a moment about the first man, Adam. Did he really believe that he could disobey Jehovah and continue living? No, for the Scriptures tell us that Adam “was not deceived.” (1 Tim. 2:14) Why, then, did he disobey? Adam’s eating of the fruit that Eve offered him must have been because of his desire for his wife. He listened to her voice rather than to that of his God, Jehovah.—Gen. 3:6, 17.
16. For whom should our love be the strongest, and why?
16 Does this suggest that we should not have strong love for our relatives? Of course not! But our strongest love should be for Jehovah. (Read Matthew 22:37, 38.) This is actually in the best interests of our relatives, whether they are presently serving Jehovah or not. So keep strengthening your love for Jehovah and your trust in him. And if you are particularly troubled over the course of a disfellowshipped relative, pour out your heart to Jehovah in prayer.e (Rom. 12:12; Phil. 4:6, 7) Use this heartbreaking situation to make your relationship with Jehovah more real. This, in turn, will help you to look to Jehovah for the best possible outcome.
WHILE WE WAIT
17. When we stay busy in Kingdom preaching, how do we show that we trust in Jehovah?
17 For what purpose was Paul “rescued from the lion’s mouth”? He states: “So that through me the preaching might be fully accomplished and all the nations might hear it.” (2 Tim. 4:17) As we, like Paul, busy ourselves in the preaching work, we trust that Jehovah will see to it that all other necessary things “will be added” to us. (Matt. 6:33) As Kingdom preachers, we have been “entrusted with the good news,” and we are considered by Jehovah to be his “fellow workers.” (1 Thess. 2:4; 1 Cor. 3:9) By being as active as possible in God’s work, we will find it easier to wait for relief.
18. In what ways can we build trust in Jehovah and strengthen our relationship with him?
18 Let us, then, use the present time to strengthen our relationship with God. If any situation makes us anxious, use it to draw closer to Jehovah. Yes, by being immersed in God’s Word, by praying continually, and by staying absorbed in spiritual activities, let us trust that Jehovah can and will see us through our present circumstances as well as everything else that lies ahead.
a “The lion’s mouth” from which Paul was rescued may have been literal or figurative.
c Names have been changed.