“By your endurance you will preserve your lives.”—LUKE 21:19.
SONG 114 “Exercise Patience”
1-2. How do Jehovah’s words recorded at Isaiah 65:16, 17 encourage us not to give up?
“DON’T GIVE UP!” was the rousing theme of the 2017 regional convention program. The program showed us how we can bear up under the trials that befall us. Four years have passed since then, and here we are, still enduring life in this present system of things.
2 What have you had to deal with recently? The loss of a family member or a dear friend? A life-threatening illness? The trials of getting older? A natural disaster, violence, or persecution? Or the effects of a disease, such as the COVID-19 pandemic? How we yearn for the day when all of that will be behind us—long forgotten and never to be repeated!—Read Isaiah 65:16, 17.
3. What must we do now, and why?
3 Life in this system is hard, and we may be confronted with even more difficult challenges in the future. (Matt. 24:21) Clearly, we need to continue to strengthen our endurance. Why? Because Jesus said: “By your endurance you will preserve your lives.” (Luke 21:19) Thinking about how others are successfully enduring trials similar to ours can strengthen our endurance.
4. Why can we say that Jehovah is the best example of endurance?
4 Who is the best example of endurance? Jehovah God. Does that answer surprise you? It might until you think about it. This world is under the control of the Devil, and it is riddled with problems. Jehovah has the power to end it in an instant, but he is waiting for a future day to do that. (Rom. 9:22) In the meantime, our God keeps on enduring until that appointed time arrives. Let us consider nine things that Jehovah has chosen to endure.
WHAT HAS JEHOVAH CHOSEN TO ENDURE?
5. How has God’s name been reproached, and how do you feel about that?
5 The reproach brought on his name. Jehovah loves his name, and he wants everyone to respect it. (Isa. 42:8) But for some six millenniums, his good name has been reproached. (Ps. 74:10, 18, 23) This started in the garden of Eden when the Devil (meaning “Slanderer”) accused God of depriving Adam and Eve of something they needed in order to be happy. (Gen. 3:1-5) Ever since then, Jehovah has been falsely accused of depriving humans of what they truly need. Jesus was concerned about the reproach that was being heaped on his Father’s name. For that reason, he taught his disciples to pray: “Our Father in the heavens, let your name be sanctified.”—Matt. 6:9.
6. Why has Jehovah allowed ample time to pass before settling the issue of his sovereignty?
6 The opposition to his sovereignty. Jehovah has the absolute right to rule the heavens and the earth, and his way of ruling is the very best. (Rev. 4:11) But the Devil has tried to mislead angels and humans into thinking that God does not have that right. The issue of the rightfulness of Jehovah’s sovereignty could not be settled overnight. Wisely, God has allowed ample time for people to see that when humans try to rule themselves independently of the Creator, they are doomed to fail. (Jer. 10:23) As a result of God’s patience, the issue will be settled once and for all. He will be vindicated as he proves that his Kingdom alone can establish real peace and security on earth.
7. Who have rebelled against Jehovah, and what will he do about them?
7 The rebellion of some of his children. Jehovah created his spirit and human children perfect, without any flaws. But then the rebel angelic son Satan (meaning “Resister”) turned the perfect humans, Adam and Eve, against Jehovah. Other angels and humans joined in the rebellion. (Jude 6) Later, even members of the nation of Israel, God’s chosen people, rejected him and turned to the worship of false gods. (Isa. 63:8, 10) Jehovah rightly felt betrayed. Still, he has endured, and he will keep on enduring until the time comes to put an end to all rebels. That will bring blessed relief to his loyal ones, who along with him are enduring evil in this system of things!
8-9. What lies are being told about Jehovah, and how do we respond to them?
8 The constant lies of the Devil. Satan accused Jehovah’s upright servant Job, saying in effect that all of Jehovah’s faithful worshippers serve God for selfish reasons. (Job 1:8-11; 2:3-5) The Devil has kept up his accusations to this day. (Rev. 12:10) We can do our part to prove that there is no truth to Satan’s lies by enduring our trials and remaining loyal to Jehovah out of love for Him. As with Job, we will be blessed for our endurance.—Jas. 5:11.
9 Satan uses leaders of false religion to say that Jehovah is cruel and is responsible for man’s suffering. Some even say that when children die, it was God who took them because he needed more angels in heaven. How blasphemous! We know better. When we are stricken with a serious illness or when someone we love dies, we never blame our God. On the contrary, we have faith that one day he will make things right. We can tell everyone who will listen what a loving God Jehovah is. That gives him a good reply to make to the one taunting him.—Prov. 27:11.
10. What does Psalm 22:23, 24 reveal about Jehovah?
10 The suffering of his cherished servants. Jehovah is a compassionate God. He hates to hear us cry out because of the suffering that we are enduring—be it persecution, illness, or our imperfections. (Read Psalm 22:23, 24.) Jehovah feels our pain; he wants to stop it, and he will stop it. (Compare Exodus 3:7, 8; Isaiah 63:9.) The day will come when “he will wipe out every tear from [our] eyes, and death will be no more, neither will mourning nor outcry nor pain be anymore.”—Rev. 21:4.
11. What does Jehovah miss about his loyal servants who have died?
11 Separation from his friends who have died. How does Jehovah feel about faithful men and women who have died? He longs to see them again! (Job 14:15) Can you imagine how much Jehovah misses his friend Abraham? (Jas. 2:23) Or Moses, with whom he spoke “face-to-face”? (Ex. 33:11) And how he must yearn to hear David and the other psalmists sing their beautiful songs of praise! (Ps. 104:33) Although these friends of God are sleeping in death, Jehovah has not forgotten them. (Isa. 49:15) He remembers every detail of their personality. In a sense, “they are all living from his standpoint.” (Luke 20:38, ftn.) One day, he will bring them back to life, and he will once again hear their earnest prayers and accept their worship. If you have lost a loved one in death, may these thoughts console and comfort you.
12. What especially distresses Jehovah during these wicked last days?
12 The oppression of humans by the wicked. When the rebellion began in Eden, Jehovah knew that conditions would get worse before they got better. Jehovah hates the wickedness, injustice, and violence in the world today. He has always been especially empathetic toward the most vulnerable—the weak and defenseless, the orphan as well as the widow. (Zech. 7:9, 10) Jehovah is particularly distressed when he sees his faithful servants being oppressed and imprisoned. Be assured that he loves all of you who are enduring along with him.
13. How is the human family being degraded before God’s eyes, and what will he do about it?
13 The degradation of the human family. Satan loves to degrade humans, who were created in God’s image. When God “saw that man’s wickedness was great” in Noah’s day, “Jehovah regretted that he had made men on the earth, and he felt hurt at his heart.” (Gen. 6:5, 6, ftn., 11) Have conditions improved since then? Certainly not! How pleased the Devil must be when he sees the prevalence of sexual immorality in all its forms, including immoral acts between people of the opposite sex and people of the same sex! (Eph. 4:18, 19) Satan is especially happy when he can cause those who practice true worship to fall into sin. When Jehovah’s patience comes to an end, he will demonstrate his strong disapproval of all immoral conduct.
14. What is man doing to God’s earthly creation?
14 The ruining of his creation. Not only is man ‘dominating man to his harm’ but he is mismanaging the earth and the animal creation that Jehovah entrusted to man’s care. (Eccl. 8:9; Gen. 1:28) Some experts warn that human actions could push one million more species* to extinction in the next few years. No wonder they say nature is in trouble! Thankfully, Jehovah has promised “to bring to ruin those ruining the earth” and to turn the planet into a global paradise.—Rev. 11:18; Isa. 35:1.
WHAT WE LEARN FROM JEHOVAH’S ENDURANCE
15-16. What should move us to endure along with Jehovah? Illustrate.
15 Think of all the distressing problems that our heavenly Father has been enduring for thousands of years. (See the box “What Jehovah Is Enduring.”) Jehovah could put an end to this wicked system of things at any time. But his patience has proved to be a blessing for us! We might think of it this way. Suppose a man and his wife are told that their unborn baby has serious physical problems and that the child will never have an easy life and will die prematurely. Even so, at great cost to themselves, the parents welcome the child’s birth. Their love for the child moves them to endure any hardship in order to provide him with the best possible quality of life.
16 Similarly, all descendants of Adam and Eve are imperfect when they come into the world. Still, Jehovah loves them and cares for them. (1 John 4:19) And unlike the human parents in our illustration, Jehovah can do something about it. He has set the date when he will undo all the maladies that plague his human creation. (Matt. 24:36) Should not his love motivate us to endure along with him for as long as it is necessary?
17. How does the description of Jesus recorded at Hebrews 12:2, 3 encourage us to keep on enduring?
17 Jehovah set the perfect example of endurance. Jesus succeeded in imitating his Father’s endurance. As a human, Jesus endured hostile speech, shame, and a torture stake for our sake. (Read Hebrews 12:2, 3.) Jehovah’s example of endurance undoubtedly gave Jesus the strength to endure. It can strengthen us too.
18. How does 2 Peter 3:9 help us to understand what Jehovah’s patience is accomplishing?
18 Read 2 Peter 3:9. Jehovah knows the best time to end this wicked world. His patience has allowed for the gathering of a great crowd, numbering into the millions, who worship and praise him. All of them are glad that Jehovah has endured long enough for them to be born, to learn to love him, and to dedicate themselves to him. Jehovah’s decision to endure will be fully justified when he joyfully rewards the millions of us who have endured to the end!
19. What should we be determined to do, and what will be our reward?
19 We learn from Jehovah how to endure with joy. Despite all the heartache and suffering Satan has caused, Jehovah remains “the happy God.” (1 Tim. 1:11) We can likewise remain joyful while we patiently wait for Jehovah to sanctify his name, vindicate his sovereignty, end all wickedness, and bring an end to our present problems. Let us be determined to endure and to take comfort in knowing that our heavenly Father is enduring too. If we do, these words will come true for each one of us: “Happy is the man who keeps on enduring trial, because on becoming approved he will receive the crown of life, which Jehovah promised to those who continue loving Him.”—Jas. 1:12.
SONG 139 See Yourself When All Is New
All of us have problems of one kind or another. There is presently no solution for many of them; we simply have to endure. But we are not alone. Jehovah himself is enduring many things. In this article, we will examine nine of them. We will also see what Jehovah’s endurance has accomplished and how we can benefit from his example.
“Species” should not be confused with the Bible term “kinds,” which refers to a broad group of living things.