AFTER Anita* was baptized as one of Jehovah’s Witnesses, her husband became fiercely opposed. “He prevented me from going to meetings and forbade me even to mention God’s name,” says Anita. “Just saying the name Jehovah caused my husband to fly into a rage.”
Teaching her children about Jehovah posed another serious challenge for Anita. “The worship of Jehovah was banned in my own home. I was not able to study openly with my children, nor could I take them to the meetings.”
As Anita’s experience illustrates, opposition from family members can be a real test of a Christian’s integrity. The same can be said of chronic health problems, the death of a child or a spouse, or a close family member’s turning his back on Jehovah. Hence, what can help a Christian to remain faithful to Jehovah?
In the face of such trials, what would you do? The apostle Paul said: “You need endurance.” (Heb. 10:36) But what can help you to endure?
PRAYERFUL RELIANCE ON JEHOVAH
One of the primary ways we gain the strength needed to endure trials is through prayerful reliance on God. Consider one example. Tragedy struck Ana’s family on a Monday afternoon. Her husband of 30 years passed away suddenly. “He never returned home from work,” says Ana, “and he was only 52 years old.”
How did Ana cope? She had to go back to work, which helped because her job required almost complete concentration but did not eliminate the pain she felt. She comments: “I poured out my heart to Jehovah and begged him to help me cope with my dreadful loss.” Did Jehovah answer her prayers? She is convinced that he did. She says: “The peace that only God can give soothed my soul and saved my sanity. I have no doubt that Jehovah will bring my husband back in the resurrection.”—Phil. 4:6, 7.
The “Hearer of prayer” has promised to provide his servants with whatever they need to remain faithful to him. (Ps. 65:2) Would you not agree that this assurance is faith-strengthening? Does it not help you to see why you too can endure?
CHRISTIAN MEETINGS—A SOURCE OF SUPPORT
Jehovah has supported his people through the Christian congregation. For example, during a time when the congregation in Thessalonica underwent severe persecution, Paul urged those Christians to “keep encouraging one another and building one another up, just as [they were] in fact doing.” (1 Thess. 2:14; 5:11) By drawing together in love and helping one another, the Thessalonian Christians were able to survive that test of their faith. Their record of endurance serves as an excellent example for us today and reveals something that can help us to endure.
Developing a close bond of friendship with members of the congregation can help us to share “things that build one another up.” (Rom. 14:19) This is especially important during times of distress. Paul himself experienced many tribulations, and Jehovah gave him the strength to endure. At times, God provided much encouragement to Paul through fellow believers. For example, when Paul sent personal greetings to members of the congregation in Colossae, he said about them: “They have become a source of great comfort to me.” (Col. 4:10, 11) Yes, their affection for Paul moved them to comfort and strengthen him when he was in need. It could well be that you have already received similar encouragement and support from members of your congregation.
SUPPORT FROM THE ELDERS
God has provided another source of support within the Christian congregation—the elders. These spiritually mature men can be “like a hiding place from the wind, a place of concealment from the rainstorm, like streams of water in a waterless land, like the shadow of a massive crag in a parched land.” (Isa. 32:2) What a refreshing assurance! Have you taken advantage of this loving provision? The encouragement and support of the elders can help you to endure.
Of course, the elders are not miracle workers. They are imperfect humans, “having the same infirmities as [we] have.” (Acts 14:15) Still, their supplications in our behalf can accomplish much. (Jas. 5:14, 15) A brother in Italy who for many years has endured the degenerative effects of muscular dystrophy said: “The brothers’ love and affection along with their frequent visits have helped me to endure.” Could you benefit to a fuller degree from Jehovah’s loving provision—the elders?
KEEP A REGULAR SPIRITUAL ROUTINE
There are yet other things we can do to endure. One is to maintain a regular spiritual routine. Consider the example of 39-year-old John, who was diagnosed with a rare cancer. He admits: “I felt cheated because I was so young.” At the time, John’s son was just three years old. “This meant that my wife not only had to look after our young child but also had to care for me, as well as help me with all my medical appointments,” says John. Chemotherapy treatments left John feeling extremely fatigued and nauseated. And that was not all. John’s father became terminally ill and needed family care.
How did John and his family cope with this difficult situation? “Despite my fatigue, I made sure that our family maintained a regular spiritual routine,” he reports. “We attended all the meetings, had a weekly share in the ministry, and had regular family worship even when it was difficult.” Indeed, John saw that a key to enduring any challenge is that of maintaining spirituality. Does he have any advice for those who are facing their own trying circumstances? He says: “After the initial shock wears off, the nagging thoughts will be replaced by Jehovah’s strength and love. Jehovah can make you strong, just as he has me.”
Without a doubt, with God’s backing we can endure difficult trials or circumstances that we may face—now or in the future. Let us demonstrate prayerful reliance on Jehovah, develop a close bond of friendship with those in our congregation, draw support from Christian elders, and maintain a regular spiritual routine. By doing so, we will be acting in harmony with Paul’s words: “You need endurance.”
Some names have been changed.