OUR YEARTEXT FOR 2021: “Your strength will be in keeping calm and showing trust.”—ISA. 30:15.
SONG 3 Our Strength, Our Hope, Our Confidence
1. Like King David, what may some of us ask?
WE ALL want to lead a calm and peaceful life. No one enjoys feeling anxious. At times, however, we may struggle with anxieties. In fact, some of Jehovah’s servants may ask the same question King David asked Jehovah: “How long will I have anxious concern, with grief in my heart each day?”—Ps. 13:2.
2. What will we discuss in this article?
2 Although we cannot be completely free from feelings of anxiety, we can do much to control such feelings. In this article, we will first identify some of the things that may cause us to feel anxious. Then we will discuss six practical ways that we can remain calm as we deal with our problems.
WHAT MAY CAUSE US TO FEEL ANXIOUS?
3. What pressures do we face, and how much control do we have over them?
3 We may have little or no control over some things that could cause us to feel anxious. For example, we cannot regulate how much the cost of food, clothing, and shelter will rise each year; nor can we control how frequently our workmates or schoolmates will try to tempt us to be dishonest or immoral. And we cannot stop the crime that happens in our neighborhood. We face these challenges because we live in a world where most people’s thinking is not based on Bible principles. Satan, the god of this world, knows that some people will allow “the anxiety of this system of things” to keep them from serving Jehovah. (Matt. 13:22; 1 John 5:19) No wonder that the world is so full of stressful situations!
4. How might we respond to intense pressures?
4 We might respond to intense pressures by becoming consumed with anxiety. For instance, we may worry that we will not earn enough money to care for our needs or that we will get sick and miss work or even lose our job. We may also be concerned that we will be unfaithful when tempted to break God’s law. Soon Satan will cause those whom he controls to attack God’s people, so we may worry about how we will react to that attack. We may wonder, ‘Is it wrong for me to feel some concern about such issues?’
5. What did Jesus mean when he said: “Stop being anxious”?
5 We know that Jesus told his followers: “Stop being anxious.” (Matt. 6:25) Does this mean that he expects us to feel no anxiety whatsoever? Certainly not! After all, in the past some of Jehovah’s loyal servants struggled with anxiety, but they did not lose Jehovah’s approval.* (1 Ki. 19:4; Ps. 6:3) Jesus was actually reassuring us. He did not want us to become so anxious about the cares of this life that our service to God would be negatively affected. What, then, are ways that we can control feelings of anxiety?—See the box “How to Do It.”
SIX THINGS THAT WILL HELP US KEEP CALM
6. According to Philippians 4:6, 7, what can calm our anxieties?
6 (1) Pray often. Christians who are under pressure can find relief when they turn to Jehovah in earnest prayer. (1 Pet. 5:7) In answer to your prayers, you can receive “the peace of God that surpasses all [human] understanding.” (Read Philippians 4:6, 7.) Jehovah calms our anxious thoughts by means of his powerful holy spirit.—Gal. 5:22.
7. What should we keep in mind when praying to God?
7 When approaching Jehovah in prayer, open your heart to him. Be specific. Tell him what the problem is, and explain to him how you feel about it. If there is a possible solution, ask him for the wisdom to find it and the strength to implement it. If the answer to your problem is beyond your control, ask Jehovah to help you not to be unduly worried about it. When you are specific in your prayers, in time you will see more clearly how Jehovah has answered them. If the answer does not come immediately after you have been praying, do not give up. Jehovah wants you to be not only specific but also persistent in your prayers.—Luke 11:8-10.
8. What should we include in our prayers?
8 As you throw your anxiety on Jehovah in prayer, be sure to include words of thanks. It is good for us to count our blessings, even when our circumstances are especially difficult. If at times you are unable to find the right words to express your intense emotions, remember that Jehovah answers prayers as simple as ‘Please help!’—2 Chron. 18:31; Rom. 8:26.
9. How can real security be found?
9 (2) Rely on Jehovah’s wisdom, not your own. Back in the eighth century B.C.E., the people of Judah felt threatened by the Assyrians. In a desperate effort to avoid coming under the Assyrian yoke, they turned to pagan Egypt. (Isa. 30:1, 2) Jehovah warned them that their wayward course would end in disaster. (Isa. 30:7, 12, 13) Through Isaiah, Jehovah told the people how they could find real security. He said: “Your strength will be in keeping calm and showing trust” in Jehovah.—Isa. 30:15b.
10. What are some circumstances in which we can show our trust in Jehovah?
10 How might we show our trust in Jehovah? Consider some examples. Suppose you are offered a better-paying job that will require a substantial amount of your time and will interfere with your spiritual routine. Or suppose that someone in the workplace expresses a romantic interest in you, but the person is not a baptized servant of God. Or imagine that a beloved family member gives you an ultimatum: “It’s either me or your God.” In each of these cases, you will have a difficult decision to make, but in each instance, Jehovah will give you the direction you need. (Matt. 6:33; 10:37; 1 Cor. 7:39) The question is, Will you trust that direction enough to apply it?
11. Which Bible accounts could we study in order to keep calm in the face of opposition?
11 (3) Learn from good examples and bad ones. The Bible contains many accounts that highlight the value of keeping calm and putting our trust in Jehovah. As you study these accounts, notice what helped God’s servants to remain calm in the face of extreme opposition. For example, when the Jewish supreme court ordered the apostles to stop preaching, they were not intimidated. Instead, they boldly declared: “We must obey God as ruler rather than men.” (Acts 5:29) Even after being flogged, the apostles did not panic. Why? Because they knew that Jehovah was on their side. He was pleased with them. Thus, they continued preaching the good news. (Acts 5:40-42) Likewise, when the disciple Stephen faced death, he remained so peaceful and serene that his face looked “like an angel’s face.” (Acts 6:12-15) Why? Because he was assured of Jehovah’s approval.
12 The apostles had direct evidence that Jehovah was with them. He had given them the power to perform miracles. (Acts 5:12-16; 6:8) That is not the case with us today. Even so, through his Word, Jehovah lovingly assures us that when we suffer for the sake of righteousness, he is pleased with us and his spirit is with us. (Read 1 Peter 3:14; 4:14.) So rather than dwell on how we might react to severe persecution in the future, we need to focus on what we can do now to build our confidence in Jehovah’s ability to sustain and deliver us. Just as those early disciples did, we must trust Jesus’ promise: “I will give you words and wisdom that all your opposers together will not be able to resist or dispute.” We have the guarantee: “By your endurance you will preserve your lives.” (Luke 21:12-19) And never forget that Jehovah keeps in his memory the smallest details about his servants who die faithful to him. With that knowledge, he will resurrect them.
13. How can we benefit from considering the experiences of those who failed to keep calm and trust in Jehovah?
13 We can also learn from the experiences of those who failed to keep calm and trust in Jehovah. Studying those bad examples will help us to avoid making the same mistakes they made. For instance, early in his reign, King Asa of Judah relied on Jehovah when confronted by a massive army, and Jehovah blessed him with victory. (2 Chron. 14:9-12) Later, though, when the much smaller army of King Baasha of Israel came against him, Asa paid the Syrians for military help instead of looking to Jehovah for salvation, as he had in the past. (2 Chron. 16:1-3) And near the end of his life when he developed a severe ailment, he did not rely on Jehovah to help him.—2 Chron. 16:12.
14. What can we learn from Asa’s mistakes?
14 In the beginning, Asa looked to Jehovah when faced with problems. But later he failed to turn to his God for help, preferring to handle matters on his own. On the surface, Asa’s plan to turn to the Syrians for help against Israel may have appeared to be very practical. But his success was short-lived. Jehovah told him through a prophet: “Because you relied on the king of Syria and did not rely on Jehovah your God, the army of the king of Syria has escaped out of your hand.” (2 Chron. 16:7) We must be careful not to feel so confident about handling matters on our own that we fail to look to Jehovah for guidance through his Word. Even when we are faced with an urgent situation, we should calmly rely on Jehovah, and he will help us to succeed.
15. What might we do when reading the Bible?
15 (4) Memorize Bible passages. As you come across Bible passages showing that strength comes from keeping calm and trusting in Jehovah, try to commit a few key verses to memory. You may find it helpful to read them aloud or to write them down and review them often. Joshua was commanded to read the book of the Law regularly in an undertone in order to act wisely. These reminders would also help him overcome the fear that he might otherwise have felt in his circumstances. (Josh. 1:8, 9) Many expressions found in God’s Word can give you peace of mind and heart in situations that would normally lead to feelings of anxiety or dread.—Ps. 27:1-3; Prov. 3:25, 26.
16. How does Jehovah use the congregation to help us to keep calm and trust in him?
16 (5) Associate with God’s people. Jehovah uses our brothers and sisters to help us to keep calm and trust in him. At our meetings, we benefit from the instruction presented from the platform, the comments made by the audience, and the upbuilding conversations we have with our brothers and sisters. (Heb. 10:24, 25) We can also be greatly encouraged when we share our feelings with trusted friends in the congregation. “A good word” from a friend can go a long way in helping to lift the weight of our anxiety.—Prov. 12:25.
17. According to Hebrews 6:19, how can our Kingdom hope give us stability despite challenging circumstances?
17 (6) Keep your hope strong. Our Kingdom hope serves “as an anchor for the soul,” giving us stability despite challenging circumstances or anxious thoughts. (Read Hebrews 6:19.) Meditate on Jehovah’s promise of a future in which negative thoughts will be gone. (Isa. 65:17) Picture yourself in the peaceful new world, where distressing situations will no longer exist. (Mic. 4:4) You will also strengthen your hope as you share it with others. Do all you can in the preaching and disciple-making work. If you do, you can “have the full assurance of the hope down to the end.”—Heb. 6:11.
18. What challenges can we expect in the future, and how can we face them successfully?
18 As this system of things comes to its end, we will experience more challenges that could produce anxious thoughts. Our yeartext for 2021 can help us to face those challenges and remain calm, not in our own strength, but through our trust in Jehovah. During the coming year, let us show by our actions that we have faith in Jehovah’s promise: “Your strength will be in keeping calm and showing trust.”—Isa. 30:15.
SONG 8 Jehovah Is Our Refuge
Our yeartext for 2021 highlights the importance of trusting in Jehovah as we deal with stressful situations now and in the future. This article will discuss practical ways that we can apply the counsel found in our yeartext.
Some faithful brothers and sisters suffer from an overwhelming feeling of anxiety or panic. Such a disorder is a serious health condition and should not be confused with the type of anxiety that Jesus was discussing.
PICTURE DESCRIPTION: (1) Throughout the day, a sister prays intensely about her anxieties.
PICTURE DESCRIPTION: (2) During her lunch break at work, she looks to God’s Word for wisdom.
PICTURE DESCRIPTION: (3) She meditates on good examples and bad ones found in the Bible.
PICTURE DESCRIPTION: (4) She puts on her refrigerator an encouraging scripture that she wants to memorize.
PICTURE DESCRIPTION: (5) She enjoys good companionship while in the ministry.
PICTURE DESCRIPTION: (6) She strengthens her hope by thinking about the future.