“Jehovah is on my side; I will not be afraid.”—PS. 118:6.
SONG 105 “God Is Love”
1. What are some common fears?
CONSIDER the following real-life situations. Nestor and his wife, María, wanted to serve where the need was greater.b In order to accomplish that, however, they would need to adjust their standard of living. But they were afraid that they might not be truly happy if they had to live on less money. When Biniam became one of Jehovah’s Witnesses in a country where our work is opposed, he realized that as one of God’s people, he could be persecuted. That scared him. But he was even more fearful of how his family might react when they found out about his new religion. Valérie was diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer, and she struggled to find a surgeon who would respect her Bible-based beliefs regarding blood. Understandably, she feared that she might die.
2. Why do we need to work at overcoming our fears?
2 Have you experienced such fears? Many of us have. If we do not learn to control our fears, we will likely make bad decisions that could even have a negative impact on our relationship with Jehovah. That is what Satan wants. He also tries to use our fears to make us disobey Jehovah’s laws, including the command to preach the good news. (Rev. 12:17) Satan is wicked, relentless, and powerful. But you can protect yourself from him. How?
3. What will help us to overcome our fears?
3 When we are convinced that Jehovah loves us—that he is on our side—we can defeat Satan’s efforts. (Ps. 118:6) For example, the writer of Psalm 118 faced some very distressing situations. He had many enemies, including some in high places (verses 9, 10). At times, he was under great pressure (verse 13). And he had received strong discipline from Jehovah (verse 18). Still, that psalmist was moved to sing: “I will not be afraid.” What made him feel so safe and secure? He knew that although Jehovah had disciplined him, his heavenly Father loved him very much. The psalmist was convinced that no matter what situation he faced, his loving God would always be ready to help him.—Ps. 118:29.
4. What fears can we overcome if we trust that God loves us?
4 We need to be convinced that Jehovah loves us personally. Our having that conviction will help us to overcome three common fears, namely, (1) fear of not being able to provide for our family, (2) fear of man, and (3) fear of death. The individuals mentioned in the opening paragraph were able to overcome their fears because they were convinced of God’s love.
FEAR OF NOT BEING ABLE TO PROVIDE FOR OUR FAMILY
5. What circumstances might cause great concern to a family head? (See cover picture.)
5 A Christian family head takes seriously the responsibility to care materially for his family. (1 Tim. 5:8) If you are a family head, perhaps during the recent pandemic there was a real possibility that you would lose your job. You may have worried that you would struggle to put food on the table and pay the rent or the mortgage on your home. You may also have been afraid that if you lost your job, you would not be able to find another one. Or like Nestor and María, mentioned earlier, you may have hesitated to make an adjustment in your secular work that would affect your lifestyle. Satan has had a lot of success in exploiting such fears.
6. What does Satan try to make us believe?
6 Satan tries to make us believe that Jehovah does not care about us personally and that we are on our own when it comes to providing for our family. As a result, we might conclude that we need to do whatever it takes to hold on to our present employment, even if it means ignoring Scriptural principles.
7. Of what does Jesus assure us?
7 Jesus, who knows the Father better than anyone else does, assures us that our God “knows what [we] need even before [we] ask him.” (Matt. 6:8) And Jesus knows that Jehovah is ready to provide for our needs. As Christians, we are members of God’s household. We can be sure that as family Head, Jehovah will respect the principle he had recorded at 1 Timothy 5:8.
8. (a) What will help us to overcome the fear that we will not be able to provide for our family? (Matthew 6:31-33) (b) How might we imitate the couple in the picture who are sharing a meal with a sister?
8 When we are convinced that Jehovah loves us and that he loves our family, we have no trouble believing that we will have the things we need. (Read Matthew 6:31-33.) Jehovah wants to provide for us, and what a loving, generous Provider he is! When he created the earth, he did more than just give us the basic things we would need to survive. He lovingly filled the earth with things that would give us immense pleasure. (Gen. 2:9) Even if at times we have just enough to get by, we do well to focus on the fact that we are getting by. Jehovah has not failed to provide for us. (Matt. 6:11) We need to keep in mind that any material sacrifice we make now is nothing in comparison to what our loving God will give us, both now and in the future. That is what Nestor and María came to realize.—Isa. 65:21, 22.
9. What can you learn from Nestor and María’s example?
9 Nestor and María had enjoyed a comfortable lifestyle in Colombia. “We thought about simplifying our life and expanding our ministry,” they said, “but we were afraid that we wouldn’t be happy living on less money.” What helped them to overcome their fear? They reflected on the many ways that Jehovah had proved his love for them. Convinced that he would always take care of them, they quit their well-paying jobs. They sold their home and moved to a part of the country where there was a greater need for Kingdom preachers. How do they feel about their decision? Nestor says: “We have seen the truthfulness of Matthew 6:33. We have never lacked anything materially. And we live a happier life now.”
FEAR OF MAN
10. Why is it understandable that humans fear one another?
10 Humans have a bad record of harming one another. (Eccl. 8:9) For example, people abuse their authority, criminals commit violent acts, bullies at school insult and threaten their classmates, and some people even treat their family members brutally. No wonder humans fear other humans! How does Satan try to take advantage of our fear of man?
11-12. How does Satan use fear of man against us?
11 Satan uses fear of man to try to force us to make compromises and to stop us from preaching. Under the influence of Satan, governments have banned our work and persecuted us. (Luke 21:12; Rev. 2:10) Various elements of Satan’s world spread misleading information and vicious lies about Jehovah’s Witnesses. People who believe these lies may mock us or even attack us physically. (Matt. 10:36) Are we surprised at Satan’s tactics? Not at all. He was already using them in the first century.—Acts 5:27, 28, 40.
12 Fear of opposition from governments is not the only weapon Satan uses. For some, fear of how family members will react to the truth is greater than any physical abuse. They love their relatives very much and want them to come to know and love Jehovah. It pains them to hear their relatives speak disrespectfully of the true God and of his worshippers. In some cases, however, relatives who were initially opposed later came into the truth. But suppose our family members cut all ties with us because of our new beliefs? How will we react?
13. How can our being convinced of God’s love help us to deal with rejection by family members? (Psalm 27:10)
13 We can take comfort from the beautiful truth reflected at Psalm 27:10. (Read.) When we remember just how much Jehovah loves us, we feel secure in the face of opposition. And we are confident that he will reward us for our endurance. Jehovah will care for our physical, emotional, and spiritual needs far better than anyone else can! That is what Biniam, mentioned earlier, discovered.
14. What can you learn from Biniam’s example?
14 Biniam became one of Jehovah’s Witnesses despite knowing that he could face vicious persecution. Consider how his knowing that Jehovah loves him helped Biniam to overcome fear of man. “The persecution was beyond imagination,” he says. “But what I feared even more than government persecution was opposition from my family. I was afraid that my decision to become one of Jehovah’s Witnesses would disappoint my unbelieving father and that my family would think that I was a failure.” However, Biniam was convinced that Jehovah always cares for those whom He loves. Biniam explains: “I reflected on how Jehovah had helped others to endure economic hardship, prejudice, and mob violence. I knew that if I stuck with Jehovah, he would bless me. When I was arrested multiple times and even tortured, I experienced firsthand just how much Jehovah helps us in our time of need if we remain faithful.” Jehovah became a real Father to Biniam, and His people proved to be a real family to him.
FEAR OF DEATH
15. Why is it normal to have a fear of death?
15 The Bible acknowledges that death is an enemy. (1 Cor. 15:25, 26) We may feel anxious at the thought of death, especially when we or our loved ones are critically ill. Why do we fear death? Because Jehovah created us with the desire to enjoy life forever. (Eccl. 3:11) A balanced fear of death can help us to protect our life. For example, it can motivate us to make good decisions about our diet and exercise routine, to seek the help of physicians and medications when necessary, and to avoid needlessly putting our life in danger.
16. How does Satan try to exploit our natural fear of death?
16 Satan knows that we cherish our life. He claims, however, that we would sacrifice everything we have—even our friendship with Jehovah—just to preserve our present life. (Job 2:4, 5) How wrong Satan is! Still, since he is “the one having the means to cause death,” Satan tries to exploit our natural fear of death in order to make us abandon Jehovah. (Heb. 2:14, 15) In some cases, Satan’s agents threaten to kill Jehovah’s worshippers if they do not renounce their faith. In other cases, Satan may take advantage of a life-threatening medical situation to try to get us to compromise. Medical doctors or unbelieving family members may pressure us to accept a blood transfusion, which would violate God’s law. Or someone may try to persuade us to consider another therapy that goes against Scriptural principles.
17. In line with Romans 8:37-39, why is there no need to fear death?
17 Although we do not want to die, we know that Jehovah will not stop loving us if our life should end. (Read Romans 8:37-39.) When Jehovah’s friends die, he keeps them in his memory, as if they were still alive. (Luke 20:37, 38) He longs to bring them back to life. (Job 14:15) Jehovah has paid a high price so that we “might . . . have everlasting life.” (John 3:16) We know how deeply Jehovah loves us and cares for us. So rather than abandon Jehovah when we are sick or threatened with death, we turn to him for comfort, wisdom, and strength. That is exactly what Valérie and her husband did.—Ps. 41:3.
18. What can you learn from Valérie’s example?
18 When she was 35 years old, Valérie was diagnosed with a rare and aggressive form of cancer. Consider how love helped her to overcome her fear of death. She relates: “My diagnosis changed our life overnight. I needed major surgery to survive. I consulted many surgeons, but they all refused to operate without administering blood. I was scared, but in view of God’s command, there was no way I would accept a blood transfusion! Throughout my life, Jehovah had shown me so much love. Now I had an opportunity to show my love for him. Every time I would get bad news, it made me even more determined to make Jehovah proud and not let Satan win. I eventually had a successful operation without blood. Though my health issues continue, Jehovah has always provided what we needed. For example, at our congregation meeting on the weekend before my diagnosis, we considered the article ‘Meeting Today’s Adversities With Courage.’c This article was a lifesaver for us. We read it over and over again. Articles like this and a good spiritual routine have given my husband and me inner peace and have helped us to stay balanced and make good decisions.”
OVERCOMING OUR FEARS
19. What will soon happen?
19 With Jehovah’s help, Christians earth wide have overcome challenging situations and have been successful in opposing the Devil. (1 Pet. 5:8, 9) You can too. Very soon, Jehovah will direct Jesus and his corulers “to break up the works of the Devil.” (1 John 3:8) After that, God’s people serving him on earth will “fear nothing and have no cause for terror.” (Isa. 54:14; Mic. 4:4) Until then, though, we need to work hard to overcome our fears.
20. What will help us to overcome our fears?
20 We must continue to strengthen our confidence that Jehovah loves and protects his servants. We will be helped to do this by meditating on and talking about how Jehovah has protected his servants in the past. And we can bear in mind how he has helped us personally to face distressing situations. With Jehovah’s help, we can overcome our fears!—Ps. 34:4.
SONG 129 We Will Keep Enduring
a Fear is a normal emotion that can protect us from danger. But giving in to unwholesome fear can do the opposite; it can put us in harm’s way. How so? Satan will use that fear against us. Clearly, we must work hard to control that kind of fear. What will help us? As this article will show, when we are convinced that Jehovah is on our side and that he loves us, we can overcome any fear.
b Some names have been changed.
d PICTURE DESCRIPTION: A couple from the local congregation bring a meal to a hardworking sister and her family.
e PICTURE DESCRIPTION: The parents of a young brother are opposed to his worship, but he is confident of God’s support.