Our yeartext for 2018: “Those hoping in Jehovah will regain power.”—ISA. 40:31.
1. What pressures must we deal with, but what reason does Jehovah have to be pleased with his faithful servants? (See opening pictures.)
AS YOU know, life in this system of things is by no means trouble-free. Many of you dear brothers and sisters are coping with serious illness. Others, although well along in years themselves, are caring for elderly relatives. Still others are struggling to provide, not luxury items, but just the basic necessities for their families. And we know that many are dealing with, not one, but several of such problems all at once! This requires a tremendous expenditure of time and emotional energy—to say nothing of the financial burden. Nevertheless, your confidence in God’s promises is absolute; your faith in a better future, unwavering. How pleased Jehovah must be!
2. What encouragement can we draw from Isaiah 40:29, but what serious mistake could we make?
2 Do you sometimes feel, though, that the pressures of life are driving you to the limit? If you do, you are not alone. The Bible reveals that faithful servants in the past often felt that they could not go on. (1 Ki. 19:4; Job 7:7) However, rather than give up, they looked to Jehovah for strength. They were not disappointed, for our God “gives power to the tired one.” (Isa. 40:29) Sadly, some of God’s people in our day have concluded that the best way to cope with the pressures of life is to ‘take a break from the truth,’ as they say, as if our Christian activities were a burden rather than a blessing. So they stop reading God’s Word, attending congregation meetings, and engaging in the field ministry—just as Satan hopes they will do.
3. (a) How can we frustrate Satan’s goal to weaken us? (b) What will we discuss in this article?
3 The Devil well knows that our being fully engaged in Christian activities can strengthen us, and he does not want us to be strong. When you feel physically and emotionally drained, then, do not cut yourself off from Jehovah. Draw ever closer to him, for “he will make you firm, he will make you strong.” (1 Pet. 5:10; Jas. 4:8) In this article, we will consider two situations that could cause us to slow down in our service to God and we will discuss how applying Bible principles can help us to cope. But first, let us focus on Jehovah’s ability to strengthen us, as shown at Isaiah 40:26-31.
THOSE HOPING IN JEHOVAH WILL REGAIN POWER
4. What lesson can we learn from Isaiah 40:26?
4 Read Isaiah 40:26. No one has been able to count all the stars in the universe. Scientists believe that our Milky Way galaxy alone may contain up to 400 billion stars. Yet, Jehovah gives a name or a designation to each star. The lesson for us? If Jehovah takes a personal interest in his inanimate creation, imagine how he feels about you who serve him, not because you have been programmed to do so, but because you love him! (Ps. 19:1, 3, 14) Our dear Father knows you through and through. “Even the hairs of your head are all numbered” by him. (Matt. 10:30) And the psalmist assures us: “Jehovah is aware of what the blameless go through.” (Ps. 37:18) Yes, he takes notice of the trials you face, and he can give you the strength to endure each one of them.
5. How can we be sure that Jehovah is able to strengthen us?
5 Read Isaiah 40:28. Jehovah is the Source of dynamic energy. Consider, for example, the amount of energy that he supplies just to our sun. Science writer David Bodanis observed: “The mass our Sun is exploding into energy each second is equivalent to [billions of atomic] bombs.” Another researcher calculated that the sun “currently radiates . . . sufficient energy in one second to meet mankind’s needs for 200,000 years”! Can anyone doubt that the One who “fuels” the sun can give us the strength we need to cope with any problem?
6. In what sense is Jesus’ yoke kindly, and how should knowing that affect us?
6 Read Isaiah 40:29. Serving Jehovah brings much joy. Jesus said to his disciples: “Take my yoke upon you.” And he added: “You will find refreshment for yourselves. For my yoke is kindly, and my load is light.” (Matt. 11:28-30) How true that statement is! At times, we may feel exhausted when we leave home to attend a congregation meeting or to engage in the field ministry. But how do we feel when we return? Refreshed—and better prepared to deal with life’s trials. Jesus’ yoke is kindly indeed!
7. Relate an experience that illustrates the truthfulness of Matthew 11:28-30.
7 A sister whom we will call Kayla has had to battle with chronic fatigue syndrome, depression, and migraine headaches. Understandably, she has sometimes found it difficult to attend congregation meetings. However, after she made the effort to attend a public meeting, she wrote: “The talk was about discouragement. The information was presented in such an empathetic and concerned way that I was moved to tears. I was reminded that the meetings are where I need to be.” How happy she was that she made the effort to attend!
8, 9. What did the apostle Paul mean when he wrote: “When I am weak, then I am powerful”?
8 Read Isaiah 40:30. No matter how qualified we may be, we are limited in what we can accomplish in our own strength. That is a lesson we all must learn. Although he was a capable man, the apostle Paul had limitations that prevented him from doing everything he wanted to do. When he expressed his concerns to God, he was told: “My power is being made perfect in weakness.” Paul got the point. He concluded: “When I am weak, then I am powerful.” (2 Cor. 12:7-10) What did he mean by that?
9 Paul realized that there was only so much he could do without help from a higher source. God’s holy spirit could supply the power that Paul lacked. Not only that, but God’s spirit could empower Paul to perform tasks that he would never have been able to complete in his own power. The same is true of us. If the strength we have comes from Jehovah, we will be strong indeed!
10. How did Jehovah help David to cope with the challenges he faced?
10 The psalmist David often experienced the power of God’s holy spirit. He sang: “With your help I can charge against a marauder band; by God’s power I can scale a wall.” (Ps. 18:29) There are some walls—some problems—that we cannot “scale” in our own strength; we need a boost from Jehovah.
11. Describe the role of holy spirit in helping us to cope with our problems.
11 Read Isaiah 40:31. The eagle does not soar and glide long distances solely in its own power. A draft of warm air gives it the lift it needs, enabling the eagle to conserve energy. So when you are faced with a daunting task, remember the eagle. Beg Jehovah to give you a “lift” by means of “the helper, the holy spirit.” (John 14:26) Happily, we can have access to it whenever we need it—24 hours a day. And we may most keenly feel the need for divine help when we have a disagreement with a member of the congregation. But why do such differences arise?
12, 13. (a) Why do differences between Christians occur? (b) What does the account of Joseph teach us about Jehovah?
12 Differences between individuals occur because we are all imperfect. Accordingly, there will be times when we will be irritated by the words or actions of fellow believers—or when they will be annoyed by ours. This can be a serious test. As with other tests, Jehovah allows us to prove our integrity by learning to work unitedly with dedicated men and women whom he loves despite their imperfections.
13 That Jehovah does not prevent his servants from being tested is illustrated by the account of Joseph. As a young man, Joseph was sold into slavery by his jealous half brothers and taken to Egypt. (Gen. 37:28) Jehovah saw what was happening and no doubt was grieved to observe the way his friend, righteous Joseph, was being treated. Still, He did not intervene. Later, when Joseph was accused of trying to rape Potiphar’s wife and was thrown into prison, Jehovah still did not step in. But did God ever abandon Joseph? On the contrary: “Jehovah made whatever [Joseph] did successful.”—Gen. 39:21-23.
14. What spiritual and physical benefits can we derive by ‘letting go’ of anger?
14 Here is another example. Few people have been treated as badly as David was. Still, that friend of God did not allow resentment to gnaw away at him. Rather, he wrote: “Let go of anger and abandon rage; do not become upset and turn to doing evil.” (Ps. 37:8) The most important reason to “let go” of anger is to imitate Jehovah, who “has not dealt with us according to our sins.” (Ps. 103:10) But there are also practical benefits to ‘letting go’ of anger. Anger can cause such physical problems as high blood pressure and respiratory trouble. It can affect the liver and the pancreas, and it can cause digestive problems. When we are angry, we do not always think clearly. And at times a fit of anger may be followed by a prolonged period of depression. On the other hand, “a calm heart gives life to the body,” says the Bible. (Prov. 14:30) How, then, can we deal with hurt feelings and gain our brother? We can do so successfully by applying the Bible’s wise advice.
WHEN WE ARE DISAPPOINTED BY OUR BROTHERS
15, 16. How should we approach someone who has offended us?
15 Read Ephesians 4:26. We are not surprised when we have to endure harsh treatment from the world. But when a fellow believer or a family member says or does something that hurts us deeply, we may be devastated. Suppose we cannot simply forget the incident. Will we allow resentment to fester for years? Or will we follow the Bible’s wise advice to settle matters quickly? The longer we put off dealing with the situation, the harder it will be for us to make peace with our brother.
16 Suppose you have been offended by a brother and you cannot put it behind you. What positive steps can you take to make peace? First, approach Jehovah in earnest prayer. Ask him to help you to have an upbuilding conversation with your brother. Remember, he is one of Jehovah’s friends. (Ps. 25:14) God loves him. Jehovah treats his friends with kindness, and he expects no less from us. (Prov. 15:23; Matt. 7:12; Col. 4:6) Next, review in your mind what you are going to say. Do not assume that your brother set out deliberately to hurt you; give him the benefit of the doubt. And be open to the possibility that in some way you may have contributed to the rift. You might begin the conversation by saying something like this, “Perhaps I am being overly sensitive, but when you spoke to me yesterday, I felt . . .” If the discussion does not produce the results you desire, look for another opportunity to make peace. In the meantime, pray for your brother; ask Jehovah to bless him. Ask God to help you focus on your brother’s positive qualities. Whatever the outcome, you can be sure that Jehovah will be pleased with your sincere efforts to gain your brother—God’s friend.
WHEN WE ARE TORMENTED BY OUR PAST
17. What means can Jehovah use to help us recover when we have committed a sin, and why should we take advantage of the provision?
17 Some feel unworthy of serving Jehovah because they have committed a serious sin. Guilt can be a harsh taskmaster. King David, who struggled with guilt, put it this way: “When I kept silent, my bones wasted away because of my groaning all day long. For day and night your hand was heavy upon me.” Happily, David dealt with the problem like a man—a spiritual man. “Finally I confessed my sin to you,” he wrote, “and you pardoned the error of my sins.” (Ps. 32:3-5) If you have sinned seriously, Jehovah is ready to help you recover. But you must accept the help he provides through the congregation. (Prov. 24:16; Jas. 5:13-15) Do not delay—your everlasting future is at stake! But suppose that long after a transgression was forgiven, you still have pangs of conscience over past mistakes?
18. How can Paul’s example help those who struggle with feelings of unworthiness?
18 There were evidently times when the apostle Paul was distressed over past misdeeds. He acknowledged: “I am the least of the apostles, and I am not worthy of being called an apostle, because I persecuted the congregation of God.” Nevertheless, Paul added: “But by God’s undeserved kindness I am what I am.” (1 Cor. 15:9, 10) Jehovah accepted Paul for what he was, and He expected Paul to realize that about himself. If you are sincerely repentant of past sins and have confessed them to the extent necessary, you can rest assured that Jehovah will be merciful. So take Jehovah at his word, and accept his forgiveness!—Isa. 55:6, 7.
19. What is the yeartext for 2018, and why is it appropriate?
19 As this system nears its end, we can expect the pressures of life to increase. Be assured, however, that the One who “gives power to the tired one and full might to those lacking strength” can give you whatever you need to carry on. (Isa. 40:29; Ps. 55:22; 68:19) During 2018, we will be reminded of this important truth every time we attend a meeting at the Kingdom Hall. It is embodied in the words displayed there from our yeartext: “Those hoping in Jehovah will regain power.”—Isa. 40:31.