“Jehovah takes pleasure in his people.”—PS. 149:4.
SONG 108 God’s Loyal Love
1. What does Jehovah notice in his people?
JEHOVAH GOD “takes pleasure in his people.” (Ps. 149:4) What a delightful thought that is! Jehovah notices our good qualities; he sees our potential and draws us to himself. If we remain faithful to him, he will remain close to us forever!—John 6:44.
2. Why do some find it hard to believe that Jehovah loves them?
2 Some may say, ‘I know that Jehovah loves his people as a group, but how can I be sure that Jehovah values me personally?’ What might cause someone to ask that question? Oksana,* who experienced a tragic childhood, says: “I was very happy when I got baptized and started to pioneer. But 15 years later, I was plagued by painful memories. I concluded that I had lost Jehovah’s favor and did not deserve his love.” Yua, a pioneer sister whose childhood was also far from ideal, states: “I dedicated my life to Jehovah because I wanted to make him happy. But I was convinced that he could never love me.”
3. What will we consider in this article?
3 Like the faithful Christians just mentioned, you love Jehovah deeply but may doubt that he loves you. Why do you need to be convinced that he truly cares for you? And what can help you to cope when you are gripped by negative thinking? Let us consider the answers to these questions.
DOUBTING JEHOVAH’S LOVE IS DANGEROUS
4. Why is it dangerous to doubt Jehovah’s love for us?
4 Love is a powerful motivating force. If we are convinced of Jehovah’s love and support, we will be impelled to serve him wholeheartedly in spite of life’s challenges. On the other hand, if we doubt that God cares for us, our “strength will be meager.” (Prov. 24:10) And when we become discouraged and lose faith in God’s love, we will be vulnerable to Satan’s attacks.—Eph. 6:16.
5. What effect has doubting God’s love had on some?
5 Some faithful Christians in our time have been weakened spiritually by doubts. An elder named James says: “Even though I was serving at Bethel and was enjoying my ministry in a foreign-language congregation, I wondered if Jehovah was really accepting my sacrifices. At one point, I even questioned whether Jehovah was listening to my prayers.” Eva, who is also in full-time service, says: “I found that doubting Jehovah’s love is dangerous because doing so sends you into a downward spiral. This affects your appetite for spiritual things and undermines your joy in serving Jehovah.” Michael, a regular pioneer and an elder, says: “If you don’t believe that God cares for you, you will drift away from him.”
6. What must we do when doubts about God’s love enter our mind?
6 These experiences illustrate just how spiritually harmful negative thinking can be. But what should we do when doubts about God’s love find their way into our mind? We must immediately reject them! Ask Jehovah to help you replace those “disquieting thoughts” with ‘the peace of God that will guard your heart and your mental powers.’ (Ps. 139:23; ftn.; Phil. 4:6, 7) And remember, you are not alone. Other faithful brothers and sisters are struggling with negative feelings. Even servants of Jehovah in the past had to deal with such challenges. Consider what we can learn from the example of the apostle Paul.
WHAT WE LEARN FROM PAUL’S EXPERIENCE
7. What problems did Paul face?
7 Do you sometimes feel weighed down by many responsibilities, unable to cope with them all? If so, you would understand Paul. He felt anxiety, not just for one congregation but “for all the congregations.” (2 Cor. 11:23-28) Do chronic health problems often rob you of your joy? Paul was afflicted by a persistent “thorn in the flesh,” which may have been a physical ailment, and he was desperate to be rid of it. (2 Cor. 12:7-10) Are you discouraged by your own imperfections? So was Paul at times. He called himself a “miserable man” because of his relentless battle with his own imperfections.—Rom. 7:21-24.
8. What helped Paul cope with his problems?
8 Despite facing various tests and discouraging circumstances, Paul kept on serving Jehovah. What gave him the strength to do so? Although he was keenly aware of his imperfections, he had unwavering faith in the ransom. He was familiar with Jesus’ promise that “everyone exercising faith in [Jesus] might . . . have everlasting life.” (John 3:16; Rom. 6:23) Paul certainly was among those who were exercising faith in the ransom. He was convinced that Jehovah is ready to forgive even those who have sinned seriously if they are repentant.—Ps. 86:5.
9. What do we learn from Paul’s words recorded at Galatians 2:20?
9 Paul also had faith in the power of God’s love as expressed by Christ. (Read Galatians 2:20.) Notice the reassuring words at the end of that verse. Paul said: “The Son of God . . . loved me and handed himself over for me.” Paul did not put a limit on God’s love, as if to say, ‘I can see why Jehovah would love my brothers, but he could not possibly love me.’ Paul reminded the Romans: “While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” (Rom. 5:8) God’s love knows no boundaries!
10. What do we learn from Romans 8:38, 39?
10 Read Romans 8:38, 39. Paul was absolutely convinced of the power of God’s love. He wrote that nothing “will be able to separate us from God’s love.” Paul knew how Jehovah had patiently dealt with the nation of Israel. He also knew how Jehovah had shown mercy to him. We might sum up Paul’s reasoning this way, ‘Since Jehovah sent his own Son to die for me, do I have any reason to doubt his love?’—Rom. 8:32.
11. Although Paul had committed such sins as those mentioned at 1 Timothy 1:12-15, why was he sure that God loved him?
11 Read 1 Timothy 1:12-15. There must have been times when Paul was tormented by his past. He referred to himself as the “foremost” sinner, and no wonder! Before coming to a knowledge of the truth, Paul relentlessly pursued Christians in one city after another, putting some in prison and voting for the execution of others. (Acts 26:10, 11) Can you imagine how Paul would have felt on meeting a young Christian whose parents had been executed with his approval? Paul regretted his mistakes, but he knew he could not change the past. He accepted that Christ had died for him, and he confidently wrote: “By God’s undeserved kindness I am what I am.” (1 Cor. 15:3, 10) What is the lesson for us? Accept that Christ died for you and paved the way for you to enter into a warm, personal relationship with Jehovah. (Acts 3:19) What counts with God is what we do now and in the future, not the mistakes we made in the past, whether we were one of Jehovah’s Witnesses at the time or not.—Isa. 1:18.
12. How can the words recorded at 1 John 3:19, 20 help us if we feel worthless or unlovable?
12 When you think about Jesus’ dying to cover your sins, you may say, ‘I do not feel worthy of that honor.’ Why might you feel that way? Our imperfect heart might deceive us, making us feel worthless or unlovable. (Read 1 John 3:19, 20.) At such times, we need to remember that “God is greater than our hearts.” Our heavenly Father’s love and forgiveness are far stronger than any negative feelings that may lurk in our heart. We need to convince ourselves to accept Jehovah’s view of us. To do that, we must study his Word often, pray to him frequently, and associate regularly with his loyal people. Why is doing those things so important?
HOW BIBLE STUDY, PRAYER, AND LOYAL FRIENDS CAN HELP
13. How can studying God’s Word help us? (See also the box “How God’s Word Helps Them.”)
13 Study God’s Word each day, and you will see Jehovah’s warm personality more clearly. You will perceive his tender feelings for you. Meditating on a portion of God’s Word each day can help you think more clearly, “setting things straight” in your mind and heart. (2 Tim. 3:16) An elder named Kevin who struggled with feelings of low self-worth says: “Reading Psalm 103 and meditating on it has helped me come to my senses and grasp Jehovah’s true thoughts about me.” Eva, mentioned earlier, says: “I conclude the day quietly by meditating on Jehovah’s thoughts. It gives me a peaceful heart and builds my faith.”
14. How can prayer help us?
14 Pray frequently. (1 Thess. 5:17) A solid friendship with a fellow human is based on frequent and heartfelt communication. The same is true of our friendship with Jehovah. When we express our feelings, thoughts, and concerns to him in prayer, we demonstrate that we have confidence in him and that we know he loves us. (Ps. 94:17-19; 1 John 5:14, 15) Yua, quoted earlier, says: “When I pray, I try to do more than just report my day’s activities. I open up to Jehovah and let him know my true feelings. Gradually, I have come to see Jehovah, not as the chief executive officer of a company, but as a Father who really loves his children.”—See the box “Have You Read It?”
15. How does Jehovah show personal interest in us?
15 Associate with loyal friends; they are a gift from Jehovah. (Jas. 1:17) Our heavenly Father shows personal interest in us by providing us with a spiritual family of brothers and sisters who show “love at all times.” (Prov. 17:17) In his letter to the Colossians, Paul mentioned certain Christians who had supported him, referring to them as “a source of great comfort.” (Col. 4:10, 11) Even Christ Jesus needed and appreciated the support he received from his friends, both angelic and human.—Luke 22:28, 43.
16. How can loyal friends help us draw closer to Jehovah?
16 Are you benefiting fully from Jehovah’s gift of loyal friends? Sharing our concerns with a mature friend is not a sign of weakness; it can be a safeguard. Consider what James, quoted earlier, says: “Good friendships with mature Christians have been a lifeline. When negative thoughts overwhelm me, these precious friends listen patiently and remind me of their love for me. Through them, I can discern Jehovah’s personal love and care for me.” How important it is that we develop and maintain close friendships with our spiritual brothers and sisters!
REMAIN IN JEHOVAH’S LOVE
17-18. Whom must we listen to, and why?
17 Satan wants us to give up in the fight to do what is right. He wants us to believe that Jehovah does not love us, that we are not worth saving. But as we have seen, nothing could be further from the truth.
18 Jehovah loves you. You are a precious treasure in his eyes. If you obey him, you will “remain in his love” forever, as Jesus does. (John 15:10) So do not listen to Satan or to your self-condemning heart. Instead, listen to Jehovah, who sees the good in each one of us. Be convinced that he “takes pleasure in his people,” including you!
SONG 141 The Miracle of Life
Some of our brothers and sisters find it hard to believe that Jehovah could ever love them. In this article, we will discuss why we can be sure that Jehovah loves us as individuals. We will also examine how we can overcome any doubts we may have about his love for us.
Some names have been changed.
PICTURE DESCRIPTION: In the past, Paul had many Christians taken away to prison. When he accepted what Jesus had done for him, he changed and encouraged his Christian brothers, some of whom may have been relatives of those he had persecuted.