“Do not let your hearts be troubled. Exercise faith.”—JOHN 14:1.
SONG 119 We Must Have Faith
1. What question might we ask ourselves?
DO YOU sometimes feel anxious when you think about the events that lie ahead of us—the destruction of false religion, the attack of Gog of Magog, and the war of Armageddon? Do you ever ask yourself, ‘When the time comes, will I be able to pass through these fear-inspiring events with my integrity intact?’ If such thoughts have crossed your mind, this discussion of Jesus’ words, as recorded in our theme text, should prove to be most helpful. Jesus told his disciples: “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Exercise faith.” (John 14:1) Strong faith will help us to face the future with confidence.
2. How can we strengthen our faith, and what will we consider in this article?
2 We can strengthen our faith to endure future trials by considering how we deal with tests of faith now. When we give thought to the way we react when faced with current tests, we can learn of areas where we need to strengthen our faith. With each test we pass, our faith becomes stronger. This will help us to endure future trials. In this article, we will review four situations that Jesus’ disciples faced that revealed the need for them to have more faith. We will then consider how we might face similar challenges today and how these can prepare us for the future.
FAITH THAT GOD WILL PROVIDE MATERIALLY
3 It is natural for a family head to want to provide sufficient food, clothing, and shelter for his wife and children. This is not always easy to do in these difficult times. In some cases, our fellow believers have lost their job and, despite diligent efforts, have been unable to find another one. Others have had to turn down employment that is not suitable for Christians. In all such cases, we need strong faith that Jehovah will in some way see to it that we have what we need for our family. Jesus made this clear to his disciples in the Sermon on the Mount. (Read Matthew 6:30, 33.) When we are absolutely convinced that Jehovah will not abandon us, we will be able to focus our attention where it belongs—on Kingdom interests. As we see how Jehovah is helping us with our material needs, he will become more real to us and our faith will be strengthened.
4-5. What helped one family deal with anxieties about their material needs?
4 Consider how a family in Venezuela experienced Jehovah’s help when dealing with anxieties about their material needs. At one time, the Castro family earned a modest living by working their farm. Then, an armed gang took over their property and forced the family to abandon their land. The father, Miguel, states: “We now largely depend on what we can cultivate on a small piece of borrowed land. I begin every day by asking Jehovah to provide what we need for that day.” Life is difficult for this family, but with full faith in our loving Father’s ability to care for their daily needs, the Castro family regularly attend congregation meetings and share in the field ministry. They put Kingdom interests first in their life, and Jehovah provides what they need.
5 Throughout their hardship, Miguel and his wife, Yurai, have focused on how Jehovah has cared for them. At times, Jehovah has used fellow believers to provide modest material aid or to help Miguel find suitable secular work. At other times, Jehovah has made the basic necessities available through the relief efforts of the branch office. Jehovah has never abandoned them. As a result, they have seen their family’s faith grow. After relating a specific instance in which Jehovah helped them, their oldest daughter, Yoselin, says: “It is touching to see Jehovah’s hand so clearly. I think of him as a friend whom I can depend on for life.” She adds: “The tests we have been through as a family have prepared us for harder tests in the future.”
6. How can you strengthen your faith when you face economic hardship?
6 Are you facing economic hardship? If so, this is a difficult time for you. However, as challenging as your circumstances are, you can use this time to build your faith. Prayerfully read Jesus’ words recorded at Matthew 6:25-34 and meditate on them. Consider modern-day experiences that prove that Jehovah provides for those who stay busy in theocratic activities. (1 Cor. 15:58) Doing so will strengthen your confidence that just as your heavenly Father has helped others in similar circumstances, he will help you. He knows what you need, and he knows how to provide it. As you experience Jehovah’s help in your life, your faith will grow stronger so that you can endure greater trials in the future.—Hab. 3:17, 18.
FAITH TO ENDURE “A GREAT STORM”
7. According to Matthew 8:23-26, how did “a great storm” test the disciples’ faith?
7 When Jesus and his disciples were caught in a storm at sea, Jesus used the event to help them see areas where they needed greater faith. (Read Matthew 8:23-26.) As the storm raged on and water swept over the boat, Jesus was sleeping peacefully. When the terrified disciples woke him and asked him to save them, the Lord gently reproved them: “Why are you so afraid, you with little faith?” The fearful disciples should have realized that Jehovah was perfectly capable of protecting Jesus and those with him from harm. Do you see how we can apply the lesson? Strong faith can help us to weather any “great storm,” be it literal or figurative.
8-9. How was Anel’s faith tested, and what helped her?
8 Consider how Anel, a single sister from Puerto Rico, came through a difficult test with stronger faith. Her “great storm” was a literal one. The test began in 2017 when Hurricane Maria destroyed Anel’s home. As a result of the storm, she lost her job. “During those difficult days, I felt anxious,” admits Anel, “but I learned to trust in Jehovah through prayer and not let anxiety paralyze me.”
9 Anel mentions something else that helped her deal with her trial—obedience. She says: “Following the direction of the organization helped me to remain calm. I saw Jehovah’s hand in the spiritual encouragement I received as well as in the material assistance provided by the brotherhood.” She adds: “Jehovah gave me much more than I could even ask for, and my faith was greatly strengthened.”
10. What can you do if you face “a great storm”?
10 Are you facing “a great storm” in your life? It might involve hardship because of a natural disaster. Or it may be a figurative storm, such as a severe health problem that has left you feeling overwhelmed and unsure of what to do. You may be anxious at times, but do not let your anxiety stop you from trusting in Jehovah. Draw close to him in earnest prayer. Strengthen your faith by meditating on the times in the past when Jehovah helped you. (Ps. 77:11, 12) You can be sure that he will never abandon you—not now, not ever.
11. Why should we be resolved to be obedient to those taking the lead?
11 What else can help you to endure trials? As Anel pointed out, obedience. Learn to trust those whom Jehovah and Jesus trust. At times, those appointed to take the lead may give direction that does not make sense to us. However, Jehovah blesses obedience. We know from his Word and from the experiences of faithful servants that obedience saves lives. (Ex. 14:1-4; 2 Chron. 20:17) Meditate on such examples. Doing so will strengthen your resolve to cooperate with organizational arrangements now and in the future. (Heb. 13:17) You will thus have no reason to fear the greater storm that is soon to come.—Prov. 3:25.
FAITH TO COPE WITH INJUSTICE
12. What connection does Luke 18:1-8 make between having faith and enduring injustice?
12 Jesus knew that injustice would challenge the faith of his disciples. To help them deal with it, he gave an illustration that is recorded in the book of Luke. Jesus told the story of a widow who kept crying out to an unrighteous judge for justice. She was confident that her persistence would pay off. Eventually, the judge responded to her pleas. The application? Jehovah is not unjust. So Jesus said: “Certainly, then, will not God cause justice to be done for his chosen ones who cry out to him day and night?” (Read Luke 18:1-8.) Then Jesus added: “When the Son of man arrives, will he really find this faith on the earth?” When we suffer injustice, we need to prove by our patience and perseverance that we have strong faith like that of the widow. With such faith, we can be confident that sooner or later Jehovah will act in our behalf. We also need to believe in the power of prayer. At times, our prayers may bring unexpected results.
13. How did prayer help one family who were unjustly treated?
13 Consider the experience of a sister named Vero, who lives in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Vero, her unbelieving husband, and their 15-year-old daughter had to flee their village when it was attacked by a militia group. Along the way, the family came to a roadblock where the militia detained them and threatened to execute them. When Vero began to cry, her daughter tried to calm her by praying out loud and by repeatedly using Jehovah’s name in her prayer. When she finished, the commander of the militia group asked, “Young girl, who taught you to pray?” She replied, “My mother did, using the pattern that is found at Matthew 6:9-13.” The commander said, “Young girl, go with your parents in peace, and may Jehovah your God protect you!”
14. What may test our faith, and what will help us to endure?
14 Such experiences teach us never to underestimate the value of prayer. But what if your prayers are not answered quickly or dramatically? Like the widow in Jesus’ illustration, keep praying, confident that our God will not abandon you and that he will in time and in some way answer your prayer. Continue to beg Jehovah for his holy spirit. (Phil. 4:13) Remember that soon Jehovah will bless you so richly that you will forget any past suffering. As you faithfully endure trials with Jehovah’s help, you will be strengthened for the days ahead.—1 Pet. 1:6, 7.
FAITH TO OVERCOME OBSTACLES
15. As recorded at Matthew 17:19, 20, what challenge did Jesus’ disciples face?
15 Jesus taught his disciples that faith would help them overcome obstacles. (Read Matthew 17:19, 20.) On one occasion, they could not expel a demon, even though they had successfully done so at other times. What was the problem? Jesus explained that they needed more faith. He told them that with sufficient faith they would be able to move mountainlike obstacles! Today, we too may face challenges that seem insurmountable.
16. How has faith helped Geydi deal with tragedy and great sorrow?
16 Note the example of Geydi, a sister from Guatemala. Her husband, Edi, was murdered as they were returning home from a congregation meeting. How has Geydi’s faith helped her to cope with her great sorrow? She states: “Prayer helps me throw my burden on Jehovah, which makes me feel peace. I see Jehovah’s care for me through my family and my friends in the congregation. Staying busy in Jehovah’s service eases my pain and helps me to take one day at a time without worrying too much about tomorrow. After going through this experience, I have learned that no matter what kind of test may come in the future, I will be able to face it with the help of Jehovah, Jesus, and the organization.”
17. What can we do when confronted by a mountainlike obstacle?
17 Are you mourning the death of a loved one? Take time to strengthen your faith in the resurrection hope by reading Bible accounts of those who were raised from the dead. Are you grieving because a family member was disfellowshipped? Study in order to convince yourself that God’s way of administering discipline is always best. Whatever problem is confronting you, use it as an opportunity to build your faith. Pour your heart out to Jehovah. Do not isolate yourself, but instead remain close to your brothers and sisters. (Prov. 18:1) Share in activities that will help you to endure, even if you have to do so with tears. (Ps. 126:5, 6) Keep up with your routine of meetings, field service, and Bible reading. And stay focused on the wonderful blessings that Jehovah has in store for you. As you see how Jehovah helps you, your faith in him will grow ever stronger.
“GIVE US MORE FAITH”
18. If you detect a weakness in your faith, what can you do?
18 If your trials, past or present, have exposed a weakness in your faith, do not be discouraged. See this as an opportunity to strengthen your faith. Make the same request as did Jesus’ apostles, who said: “Give us more faith.” (Luke 17:5) Also, reflect on the examples that we have discussed in this article. Like Miguel and Yurai, remember all the times when Jehovah provided help. Like Vero’s daughter and Anel, pray fervently to Jehovah, especially when facing a crisis. And like Geydi, recognize that Jehovah may provide the needed help by means of family or friends. When you allow Jehovah to help you get through your present trials, you will become more confident that he will help you endure any trials you may face in the future.
19. What confidence did Jesus have, and of what can you be certain?
19 Jesus pointed out areas where his disciples lacked faith, but he never doubted that with Jehovah’s help they would pass future tests successfully. (John 14:1; 16:33) He was confident that strong faith would allow a great crowd to survive the coming great tribulation. (Rev. 7:9, 14) Will you be among them? By Jehovah’s undeserved kindness, you will be if you take advantage of every opportunity now to develop and strengthen your faith!—Heb. 10:39.
SONG 118 “Give Us More Faith”
a We look forward to the end of this system of things. However, at times we may wonder whether our faith will be strong enough to carry us through that period. In this article, we will consider experiences and practical lessons that can help us to strengthen our faith.