Our yeartext for 2018: “Those hoping in Jehovah will regain power.”—ISAIAH 40:31.
1. What are some of the problems we must endure, but why is Jehovah pleased with his faithful servants? (See opening pictures.)
LIFE in this system is not easy. For example, many of you dear brothers and sisters are suffering from a serious illness. Others, who are already older, are having to care for elderly relatives. Still others are struggling to provide what their family needs. And we know that many of you are dealing with, not just one of these problems, but several of them all at once! This takes a lot of time, energy, and money. But you are absolutely sure that Jehovah will help you. You know that things will get better because that is what he has promised. Your faith must truly please Jehovah!
2. How does Isaiah 40:29 encourage us, but what serious mistake could we make?
2 Do you sometimes feel, though, that the problems you have are just too difficult to endure? If you feel that way, you are not alone. Some of God’s faithful servants in the past felt the same way. (1 Kings 19:4; Job 7:7) What helped them to keep enduring? They relied on Jehovah for strength. The Bible says that God “gives power to the tired one.” (Isaiah 40:29) Sadly, though, some of God’s people today feel that the best way to endure the problems they have in life is to stop serving Jehovah for a while. They feel that serving Jehovah is a burden rather than a blessing. So they stop reading the Bible, going to the meetings, and preaching. This is exactly what Satan hopes they will do.
3. (a) How can we prevent Satan from weakening us? (b) What will we discuss in this article?
3 The Devil does not want us to be strong. And he knows that we become stronger when we are very busy in our service to Jehovah. So when you feel physically and emotionally exhausted, do not draw away from Jehovah. Draw closer to him. The Bible says: “He will make you firm, he will make you strong.” (1 Peter 5:10; James 4:8) In this article, we will learn from Isaiah 40:26-31 about Jehovah’s ability to strengthen us. We will then discuss two situations that could cause us to do less in our service to Jehovah, and we will learn how applying Bible principles can help us to endure.
THOSE HOPING IN JEHOVAH WILL REGAIN POWER
4. What lesson can we learn from Isaiah 40:26?
Jehovah can give you the strength you need to endure your problems
4 Read Isaiah 40:26. No one has been able to count all the stars in the universe. Scientists believe that there may be as many as 400 billion stars in just our galaxy. Still, Jehovah gives each star a name. What does that teach us about Jehovah? If he takes a personal interest in lifeless stars, imagine how he must feel about you! You serve him, not because you have to, but because you love him. (Psalm 19:1, 3, 14) Our dear Father knows everything about you. The Bible says that “even the hairs of your head are all numbered” by him. (Matthew 10:30) Jehovah wants us to know that he “is aware of what the blameless go through.” (Psalm 37:18) Clearly, Jehovah sees all the problems you have, and he can give you the strength you need to endure each one of them.
5. How can we be sure that Jehovah is able to strengthen us?
5 Read Isaiah 40:28. Jehovah is the Source of all energy. Consider, for example, the amount of energy he gives to our sun. Science writer David Bodanis said that each second the sun produces as much energy as the explosion of billions of atomic bombs. Another researcher calculated that the amount of energy that the sun produces in just one second would supply people all over the world with enough energy for 200,000 years! Certainly, Jehovah, the one who gives energy to the sun, can give us the strength we need to endure our problems.
6. In what way is Jesus’ yoke kindly, and how does this affect us?
6 Read Isaiah 40:29. Serving Jehovah gives us much joy. Jesus told his disciples: “Take my yoke upon you.” And he added: “You will find refreshment for yourselves. For my yoke is kindly, and my load is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30) This is so true! At times, we may feel exhausted when we leave home to attend a meeting or to preach. But how do we feel when we return? We feel refreshed and better prepared to cope with our problems. Truly, Jesus’ yoke is kindly.
7. Give an experience that shows that Matthew 11:28-30 is true.
7 Consider the experience of one of our sisters. She suffers from chronic fatigue syndrome, depression, and bad headaches. So sometimes it is very difficult for her to be at the meetings. However, one day, after she made the effort to attend a meeting, she wrote: “The talk was about discouragement. The information was presented in such an empathetic and concerned way that I was moved to tears. I was reminded that the meetings are where I need to be.” She was so happy that she made the effort to attend!
8, 9. What did the apostle Paul mean when he wrote: “When I am weak, then I am powerful”?
8 Read Isaiah 40:30. We may have many skills, but we are limited in what we can do in our own strength. This is a lesson we all must learn. The apostle Paul was able to do many things, but he could not do everything he wanted to do. When he told Jehovah how he felt, Jehovah said to him: “My power is being made perfect in weakness.” Paul understood what Jehovah told him. That is why he said: “When I am weak, then I am powerful.” (2 Corinthians 12:7-10) What did he mean?
9 Paul realized that there was a limit to what he could do on his own. He needed help from someone much more powerful. God’s holy spirit could give Paul power when he felt weak. And it could do even more. God’s spirit could also give Paul the power to accomplish things that he could not do in his own strength. The same thing can happen to us. When Jehovah gives us his holy spirit, we will be truly strong!
10. How did Jehovah help David to endure his problems?
10 The psalmist David often experienced how God’s holy spirit made him strong. He sang: “With your help I can charge against a marauder band; by God’s power I can scale a wall.” (Psalm 18:29) Like a high wall that is impossible for us to climb, sometimes our problems are so big that we cannot solve them on our own. We need Jehovah’s help.
11. How does holy spirit help us to endure our problems?
11 Read Isaiah 40:31. Eagles do not stay in the air using only their own strength. The power from rising warm air lifts an eagle up into the sky. This allows the eagle to fly for long distances and to save energy. So when you have an overwhelming problem, think about the eagle. Beg Jehovah to give you more power by means of “the helper, the holy spirit.” (John 14:26) We can ask Jehovah to give us his spirit anytime, 24 hours a day. We may especially feel the need to ask for Jehovah’s help when we have a disagreement with one of our brothers or sisters in the congregation. But why do such disagreements happen?
12, 13. (a) Why are there disagreements between Christians at times? (b) What does Joseph’s life teach us about Jehovah?
12 Disagreements happen because we are all imperfect. At times, we may be irritated by what others say or do, or others may be irritated by us. This can be a difficult test. But it gives us an opportunity to be loyal to Jehovah. How? By learning to work together in harmony with our brothers and sisters. Jehovah loves them despite their imperfections, and so should we.
13 Jehovah does not prevent his servants from being tested. We learn that from the life of Joseph. When Joseph was a young man, his half brothers became jealous of him. They sold him as a slave, and he was taken to Egypt. (Genesis 37:28) Jehovah saw exactly what was happening and was no doubt pained to see how badly his friend, his faithful servant Joseph, was treated. Still, Jehovah did not stop what happened. Later, when Joseph was accused of trying to rape Potiphar’s wife and was thrown into prison, Jehovah still did not rescue Joseph. But did God ever abandon Joseph? No. The Bible says that “Jehovah was with Joseph and Jehovah made whatever he did successful.”—Genesis 39:21-23.
14. How do we benefit when we let go of anger?
14 Another example is David. Most people have never been treated as badly as David was. Still, that friend of God did not allow himself to become filled with anger. He wrote: “Let go of anger and abandon rage; do not become upset and turn to doing evil.” (Psalm 37:8) The most important reason to “let go” of anger, or stop being angry, is that we want to imitate Jehovah. He “has not dealt with us according to our sins” but has forgiven us. (Psalm 103:10) There are other practical benefits to letting go of anger. For example, anger can cause high blood pressure and respiratory problems. It can damage the liver and the pancreas, and it can cause digestive problems. Also, when we are angry, we do not always think clearly. We may say or do things that hurt others, and this can cause us to feel depressed for a long time. It is much better to remain calm. The Bible says: “A calm heart gives life to the body.” (Proverbs 14:30) So, what can we do when others hurt our feelings, and how can we make peace with our brother? We can apply the Bible’s wise advice.
WHEN WE ARE DISAPPOINTED BY OUR BROTHERS
15, 16. What should we do when someone has hurt us?
15 Read Ephesians 4:26. We are not surprised when we are mistreated by people who do not serve Jehovah. But when a Christian brother or sister or a family member says or does something that hurts us, we may feel devastated. What if we simply cannot forget what happened? Will we allow ourselves to stay angry, perhaps even for many years? Or will we follow the Bible’s wise advice to settle matters quickly? The longer we wait to talk with the other person, the harder it will be for us to make peace.
16 What if you feel hurt by a brother and you cannot stop thinking about it? What can you do to make peace? First, you can pray to Jehovah. Beg him to help you have a good conversation with your brother. Remember, your brother is one of Jehovah’s friends too. (Psalm 25:14) God loves him. Jehovah treats his friends with kindness, and he expects us to do the same. (Proverbs 15:23; Matthew 7:12; Colossians 4:6) Second, think carefully about what you are going to say to your brother. Do not assume that he wanted to hurt you. Perhaps it was a mistake or you misunderstood the situation. Be willing to admit that you might have caused part of the problem. You might begin the conversation by saying something like this, “Perhaps I am being overly sensitive, but when you spoke to me yesterday, I felt . . .” If the discussion does not help to make peace between you and your brother, keep trying. Pray for your brother. Ask Jehovah to bless him and to help you focus on his positive qualities. You can be sure that Jehovah will be pleased with your sincere efforts to make peace with your brother, who is one of God’s friends.
WHEN WE FEEL GUILTY ABOUT OUR PAST
17. How does Jehovah help us repair our relationship with him when we sin, and why should we accept that help?
17 Some feel unworthy to serve Jehovah because they have committed a serious sin. Guilt can take away our peace, joy, and energy. King David struggled with feelings of guilt and said: “When I kept silent, my bones wasted away because of my groaning all day long. For day and night your hand was heavy upon me.” Happily, David had the courage to do what Jehovah wants his servants to do. “Finally I confessed my sin to you,” he wrote, “and you pardoned the error of my sins.” (Psalm 32:3-5) If you have sinned seriously, Jehovah is ready to forgive you. He wants to help you repair your relationship with him. But you have to accept the help he provides through the elders. (Proverbs 24:16; James 5:13-15) So do not wait! Your everlasting life depends on it. But suppose that you still feel guilty long after a sin was forgiven. What should you do?
18. How can Paul’s example help those who feel unworthy to serve Jehovah?
18 There were times when the apostle Paul was discouraged because of sins he committed in the past. He said: “I am the least of the apostles, and I am not worthy of being called an apostle, because I persecuted the congregation of God.” Even so, Paul added: “But by God’s undeserved kindness I am what I am.” (1 Corinthians 15:9, 10) Jehovah knew that Paul was imperfect. But he accepted Paul for who he was, and he wanted Paul to be sure of that. If you are truly sorry for what you have done and have talked to Jehovah about it, and to the elders if necessary, Jehovah will surely forgive you. Believe that Jehovah has forgiven you, and accept his forgiveness!—Isaiah 55:6, 7.
19. What is the yeartext for 2018, and why is it needed?
19 As we get closer to the end of this system, we can expect to have more problems. But we should remember that Jehovah, the one who “gives power to the tired one and full might to those lacking strength,” can give you whatever you need to keep serving him faithfully. (Isaiah 40:29; Psalm 55:22; 68:19) During 2018, we will be reminded of this important truth every time we attend a meeting at the Kingdom Hall and see the words of our yeartext: “Those hoping in Jehovah will regain power.”—Isaiah 40:31.