“It is the foolishness of an earthling man that distorts his way, and so his heart becomes enraged against Jehovah himself.”—PROVERBS 19:3.
1, 2. Why should we not blame Jehovah for the problems here on earth? What illustration can you use to explain that?
IMAGINE that a happily married man comes home one day and finds that everything in his house has been destroyed. The furniture and dishes have been smashed to pieces, and the carpet is ruined. His beautiful home looks like a disaster area. Whom do you think he would blame for this? Would he say, “Why did my wife do this?” No, most likely he would say, “Who did this?” He knows that his loving wife would never destroy their home.
2 Today, the earth has been ruined. Its soil, water, and air are polluted. People are violent and immoral. But we have learned from the Bible that this is not Jehovah’s fault. He created the earth to be a beautiful paradise home for us. (Genesis 2:8, 15) Jehovah is a God of love. (1 John 4:8) The Scriptures tell us that Satan the Devil is “the ruler of the world,” and he is the one who causes many of these problems.—John 14:30; 2 Corinthians 4:4.
3. How might we begin to have the wrong view of our problems?
3 However, we cannot blame Satan for all our problems. Why not? Because some of our problems are the result of our own mistakes. (Read Deuteronomy 32:4-6.) We might say that we believe this. But because we are imperfect, we could begin to have the wrong view of our problems, and that can be dangerous. (Proverbs 14:12) Instead of blaming ourselves or Satan for our problems, we could start to blame Jehovah. We might even become “enraged against Jehovah himself,” that is, we might become very angry with him.—Proverbs 19:3.
4, 5. How could a Christian become “enraged against Jehovah”?
4 Is it possible to become “enraged against Jehovah”? Really, it would do us no good to become angry with him. (Isaiah 41:11) We have no chance of winning a fight against God. It is true that we may never say that we are angry with Jehovah. But Proverbs 19:3 says that a man’s foolish thinking “distorts his way” and that “his heart becomes enraged against Jehovah.” This means that a person can become enraged against God in his heart and feel bitter toward Him. This can start to affect what the man does. For example, he might slow down in his service to Jehovah or stop worshipping with the congregation.
5 What might make us become “enraged against Jehovah”? How can we avoid this trap? We need to know the answers to these questions so that we can protect our relationship with Jehovah God!
HOW MIGHT WE BECOME “ENRAGED AGAINST JEHOVAH”?
6, 7. Why did the Israelites in Moses’ time start to complain about Jehovah?
6 Why might a faithful servant of Jehovah start to complain about God in his heart? This article will discuss five things that could make us become bitter, and we will review Bible examples of those who became “enraged against Jehovah.”—1 Corinthians 10:11, 12.
7 The negative talk of others can influence us. (Read Deuteronomy 1:26-28.) Think about what Jehovah did for the Israelites. He brought ten plagues on Egypt and destroyed Pharaoh and his armies at the Red Sea. The Israelites were free! (Exodus 12:29-32, 51; 14:29-31; Psalm 136:15) God’s people were ready to enter the Promised Land. But they started to complain about Jehovah. Why did they lose faith just as they were going to receive their reward? Ten spies gave a bad report to the Israelites, and this discouraged and scared them. (Numbers 14:1-4) As a result, Jehovah did not let them enter into that “good land” at that time. (Deuteronomy 1:34, 35) What can we learn? The negative talk of others could weaken our faith and cause us to complain about the way Jehovah guides his people.
8. Why did the people of Judah who lived in Isaiah’s day blame Jehovah for their problems?
8 Tragedies and difficulties could discourage us. (Read Isaiah 8:21, 22.) In Isaiah’s day, the people of Judah were suffering. They were surrounded by enemies. Many were hungry because there was not enough food. But there was an even bigger problem. They had stopped listening to Jehovah and were letting their relationship with him get weak. (Amos 8:11) Instead of asking Jehovah for help, they blamed him and the king for their problems. In a similar way, if we become discouraged because of a tragedy or other problems in our life, we might begin to blame Jehovah and feel that he did not help us when we needed him.
9. Why did the Israelites in Ezekiel’s day have a wrong attitude about Jehovah’s way of doing things?
9 We do not know all the facts. Because the Israelites in Ezekiel’s time did not know all the facts about each situation, they thought that God’s way of doing things was wrong. (Ezekiel 18:29) They acted as if it were their right to judge God and to decide whether he was doing things in the best way, even though they did not understand all of his reasons. How might we make the same mistake? The Bible contains stories that may be difficult for us to understand. Or maybe we do not understand why something is happening in our own life. We could begin to feel in our heart that Jehovah’s way is unfair and “not adjusted right.”—Job 35:2.
10. How could someone follow Adam’s bad example?
10 We do not take responsibility for our sins and mistakes. The first man, Adam, blamed God for his own sin. (Genesis 3:12) Adam knew that he was breaking God’s law and that God would punish him for his sin. But he blamed Jehovah, as if he had made the mistake because Jehovah gave him a bad wife. Others have followed Adam’s bad example by blaming God for their own mistakes. We should ask ourselves, ‘Could I get so disappointed and frustrated about my own mistakes that I begin to think that Jehovah’s standards are too strict?’
If we think only about ourselves, we may forget about the needs of other people
11. What lesson can we learn from Jonah?
11 We begin to think only about ourselves. The prophet Jonah was angry when Jehovah showed mercy to the people of Nineveh. (Jonah 4:1-3) Why? He was afraid they would think that he was a false prophet because the city was not destroyed after he said that it would be. It seems that Jonah was more concerned about what people would think of him than he was about the people themselves. Could we feel the same way as Jonah did? If we think only about ourselves, we may forget about the needs of other people. For example, perhaps we have been preaching for many years that Jehovah’s day is close. But when others criticize us because that day has not come yet, could we become impatient with Jehovah?—2 Peter 3:3, 4, 9.
HOW CAN WE AVOID BECOMING “ENRAGED AGAINST JEHOVAH”?
12, 13. If in our heart we begin to disagree with what Jehovah does or allows to happen, what must we do?
12 What can we do if we disagree with what Jehovah does or allows to happen? Remember that it is unwise to think that way. Proverbs 19:3 reminds us that because of our own ignorance, we might blame Jehovah for problems that we actually caused for ourselves. So let us think about five things that will help us never to become angry with Jehovah.
13 Keep your relationship with Jehovah strong. If we have a close relationship with Jehovah, we will not become angry with him. (Read Proverbs 3:5, 6.) We need to trust in Jehovah. We must never think that we know better than he does or that our needs are the most important. (Proverbs 3:7; Ecclesiastes 7:16) This viewpoint will help us not to blame him when bad things happen.
14, 15. What will help us not to be influenced by the negative things others say?
14 Do not allow the negative talk of others to influence you. The Israelites in Moses’ day had many reasons to trust that Jehovah would help them enter into the Promised Land. (Psalm 78:43-53) But when ten spies gave a bad report about the land, the Bible says that the Israelites did not “remember his hand,” that is, they forgot what Jehovah had done for them. (Psalm 78:42) If we meditate on all the wonderful things Jehovah has done for us, we will draw closer to him. As a result, we will not allow what other people say to separate us from Jehovah.—Psalm 77:11, 12.
If we complain about those whom Jehovah uses to direct his work here on earth, we could be complaining about Jehovah
15 What could happen if we have a bad attitude about our brothers and sisters? This could separate us from Jehovah. (1 John 4:20) For example, when Aaron was appointed as high priest, the Israelites complained about it. But to Jehovah it was as if they were complaining against Him. (Numbers 17:10) In a similar way, if we complain about those whom Jehovah uses to direct his work here on earth, we could be complaining about Jehovah.—Hebrews 13:7, 17.
16, 17. Why should we not blame Jehovah for our problems?
16 Remember that Jehovah does not cause our problems. In the time of Isaiah, the Israelites had stopped serving Jehovah, but He still wanted to help them. (Isaiah 1:16-19) When we have problems today, it comforts us to know that Jehovah still cares for us and wants to help us. (1 Peter 5:7) Jehovah even promises us that he will give us the strength to stay faithful to him.—1 Corinthians 10:13.
17 Job suffered injustice even though he was faithful to Jehovah. When we suffer, we need to remember that Jehovah never causes our suffering. The Bible says that he hates injustice and that he loves righteousness. (Psalm 33:5) We should be like Job’s friend Elihu, who understood that Jehovah never acts wickedly or unjustly. (Job 34:10) Jehovah gives us “every good gift and every perfect present.” He never causes our problems.—James 1:13, 17.
18, 19. Why should we never doubt Jehovah? What illustration helps us to understand that?
18 Never doubt Jehovah. God is perfect, and his thoughts are higher than ours. (Isaiah 55:8, 9) If we are truly humble and modest, we should be able to admit that we do not understand everything. (Romans 9:20) Most of the time, we do not have all the facts about a certain situation. You have probably seen in your life that this proverb is true: “The first to present his case seems right, till another comes forward and questions him.”—Proverbs 18:17, New International Version.
19 For example, maybe a close friend does something that we do not understand or that we feel is not the way things are usually done. Will we be quick to think that he must have done something wrong? No. Instead, we will probably think that we do not know all the facts about what happened. If we are willing to treat our imperfect friends in such a loving way, we definitely should be willing to trust our heavenly Father. His ways and thoughts are much higher than ours!
20, 21. Why should we never blame Jehovah for our problems?
20 Remember the real reason for our problems. We need to realize that we cause some of our own problems. (Galatians 6:7) We should not blame Jehovah for them. Why not? As an example, what would happen if a person drove too fast around a sharp curve in the road? He could crash his car. Do you think that the driver should blame the factory that made the car? Of course not! Similarly, Jehovah has given us the freedom to make our own decisions. But he has also taught us how to make good decisions. So we should not blame Jehovah if we make mistakes.
Stay close to Jehovah, and never allow your heart to become enraged against him
21 But not all our problems are caused by our own mistakes or wrong actions. Some things happen because of “time and unforeseen occurrence.” (Ecclesiastes 9:11) Also, never forget that Satan the Devil is the main cause of the wickedness in the world around us. (1 John 5:19; Revelation 12:9) Satan is the enemy, not Jehovah!—1 Peter 5:8.
PROTECT YOUR PRECIOUS RELATIONSHIP WITH JEHOVAH
22, 23. What should we remember if we become discouraged because of our problems?
22 When you are having difficult problems, remember the example of Joshua and Caleb. Ten spies gave a bad report about the Promised Land, but Joshua and Caleb brought a good report. (Numbers 14:6-9) They showed faith in Jehovah. But they still had to wander with the rest of the Israelites for 40 years. Did Joshua and Caleb complain or become bitter because they did not deserve to be punished? No. They trusted in Jehovah, and he blessed them for this. Although most of those Israelites died in the wilderness, Jehovah let Joshua and Caleb enter the Promised Land. (Numbers 14:30) In a similar way, Jehovah will bless us if we do not “tire out” in doing his will.—Galatians 6:9; Hebrews 6:10.
23 If you are discouraged because you have problems, because others make mistakes, or because you make mistakes, what should you do? Remember that Jehovah is a wonderful God. Imagine the beautiful things Jehovah has promised to give you. Ask yourself what your life would be like if you did not have a close relationship with Jehovah. Stay close to him, and never allow your heart to become enraged against him!