“I have calmed and quieted my soul.”—PSALM 131:2.
1, 2. (a) How can sudden changes in life affect us? (See opening picture.) (b) According to Psalm 131, what can help us to have peace of mind?
AFTER Lloyd and Alexandra had served at Bethel for more than 25 years, they were reassigned to the field. At first, they were sad. Lloyd says: “I felt as if Bethel and my work assignment had become my identity. I mentally appreciated the reasons for the change, but in the weeks and months that followed, I often experienced feelings of rejection.” One moment Lloyd felt positive about the change, and the next moment he felt depressed.
2 From time to time, there will be changes in life that we did not expect, and they may make us feel a lot of anxiety and stress. (Proverbs 12:25) When changes are difficult to accept or adjust to, what can we do to stay calm? (Read Psalm 131:1-3.) Let us see how some servants of Jehovah, both in the past and in our day, were able to have peace of mind even when their life changed suddenly.
HOW “THE PEACE OF GOD” HELPS US
3. How did Joseph’s life change suddenly?
3 Think, for example, about Joseph. Of all of Jacob’s sons, Joseph was his favorite. This made his brothers very jealous. When Joseph was 17, they sold him as a slave. (Genesis 37:2-4, 23-28) For about 13 years, he suffered in Egypt, first as a slave and later as a prisoner. Joseph was far away from his father, whom he loved very much. His situation could have made him feel hopeless and angry, but it did not. What helped him?
4. (a) What did Joseph do when he was in prison? (b) How did Jehovah answer Joseph’s prayers?
4 While Joseph was suffering in prison, he must have focused on how Jehovah was helping him. (Genesis 39:21; Psalm 105:17-19) Maybe he also thought about the prophetic dreams he had when he was younger and felt reassured that Jehovah was with him. (Genesis 37:5-11) He probably prayed often and told Jehovah everything that was in his heart. (Psalm 145:18) And Jehovah answered Joseph’s prayers by giving him confidence that He would be “with him” no matter what happened.—Acts 7:9, 10.* (See footnote.)
5. How can “the peace of God” make us more determined to serve Jehovah?
5 No matter how difficult our situation is, we can have “the peace of God” that protects our “mental powers” and makes us feel calm. (Read Philippians 4:6, 7.) When we feel anxiety and stress, “the peace of God” can strengthen us to keep serving Jehovah and not give up. Let us learn about some modern-day examples of brothers and sisters who have experienced this.
ASK JEHOVAH TO HELP YOU HAVE PEACE AGAIN
6, 7. How can our prayers help us to have peace of mind again? Give an example.
6 When Ryan and Juliette heard that their assignment as temporary special pioneers had ended, they felt discouraged. Ryan says: “We took this straight to Jehovah in prayer. We knew that we had a special opportunity here to display trust in him. Many in our congregation were new in the truth, so we prayed that Jehovah would help us to set an excellent example of faith.”
7 How did Jehovah answer their prayer? Ryan says: “Immediately after the prayer, the negative feelings and worries that we initially experienced disappeared. The peace of God was guarding our hearts and mental powers. We realized that we could continue to be useful to Jehovah if we maintained the right attitude.”
8-10. (a) How can God’s spirit help us when we are anxious? (b) How may Jehovah help us when we focus on serving him?
8 God’s spirit can make us feel calm, and it can also direct us to verses in the Bible that will help us to understand what is really important in life. (Read John 14:26, 27.) Consider what happened to Philip and Mary, a married couple who had been at Bethel for nearly 25 years. Within four months, both of their mothers and another relative died, and they had to care for Mary’s father, who has dementia.
9 Philip says: “I thought I was coping well to a certain point, but something was missing. I came across Colossians 1:11 in a Watchtower study article. I was enduring, true, but not in the fullest sense. I needed to ‘endure fully with patience and joy.’ This verse reminded me that my joy in life is dependent, not on my circumstances, but on the effect that God’s spirit has in my life.”
10 Because Philip and Mary stayed focused on serving Jehovah, he blessed them in many ways. Soon after they left Bethel, they both found Bible students who made good progress and who wanted to study more than once a week. Mary says: “They were our joy and Jehovah’s way of telling us that everything was going to be fine.”
DO SOMETHING THAT JEHOVAH CAN BLESS
11, 12. (a) How did Joseph do something that Jehovah could bless? (b) How did Jehovah reward Joseph?
11 When life changes suddenly, we may become so anxious that all we can think about are our problems. That could have happened to Joseph. Instead, he chose to do the best that he could in his situation. Just as Joseph had worked hard for Potiphar, he worked hard in prison at anything that the chief officer assigned him to do.—Genesis 39:21-23.
12 One day, Joseph was assigned to care for two prisoners who had served in Pharaoh’s court. Joseph was kind to them, and the men felt comfortable enough to tell him about their worries and the disturbing dreams they had the night before. (Genesis 40:5-8) Joseph did not know it then, but that conversation would eventually lead to his freedom. Two years later, he was released from jail and became a powerful ruler in Egypt. Only Pharaoh had more power than Joseph!—Genesis 41:1, 14-16, 39-41.
13. How can we act in a way that Jehovah will bless, no matter what our situation is?
13 Like Joseph, we may find ourselves in a situation that we cannot really control. But if we are patient and do the best we can, Jehovah will bless us. (Psalm 37:5) Even when we feel confused and anxious, we will not be “left in despair,” or feel hopeless. (2 Corinthians 4:8; footnote) Jehovah will be with us, especially if we stay focused on our ministry.
STAY FOCUSED ON YOUR MINISTRY
14-16. How did Philip the evangelizer stay focused on his ministry even though his life changed?
14 Philip the evangelizer was an excellent example of someone who stayed focused on his ministry no matter how his life changed. At one time, he was enjoying a new assignment in Jerusalem. (Acts 6:1-6) Then everything changed. After Stephen was murdered, there was fierce persecution against the Christians and they fled from Jerusalem. Because Philip wanted to stay busy serving Jehovah, he went to the city of Samaria, where people needed to hear the good news.—Matthew 10:5; Acts 8:1, 5.
15 Philip was willing to go wherever God’s spirit directed him. So Jehovah used him to preach in places where people had not heard the good news yet. Many Jews looked down on Samaritans and treated them badly. But Philip was not prejudiced, and he eagerly shared the good news with them. And the Samaritans listened to him “with one accord”!—Acts 8:6-8.
16 Next, God’s spirit directed Philip to preach in the cities of Ashdod and Caesarea, where there were many Gentiles. (Acts 8:39, 40) Then Philip’s life changed again. He settled down and had a family. But no matter how Philip’s life changed, he stayed busy with his ministry, and Jehovah continued to bless him and his family.—Acts 21:8, 9.
17, 18. When our life changes in some way, how will being focused on the ministry help us?
17 Many in full-time service say that focusing on their ministry helps them to stay happy and positive even when their circumstances change. For example, when a South African couple named Osborne and Polite left Bethel, they thought that it would be easy to find part-time work and a place to live. But Osborne says: “Unfortunately, secular work did not come as soon as we had hoped.” Polite says: “We did not find work for three months, and we had no savings. It was a real challenge.”
18 What helped Osborne and Polite in this stressful situation? Osborne says: “Preaching along with the congregation helped us a lot to keep our minds focused and positive.” Instead of just sitting at home worrying, they decided to stay busy in the ministry. Doing this brought them great joy! And Osborne adds: “We searched all over for jobs, and eventually we found work.”
TRUST IN JEHOVAH COMPLETELY
19-21. (a) What will help us to keep our peace of mind? (b) How can we benefit when we adjust to an unexpected change?
The way we adjust to a change may actually strengthen our friendship with Jehovah
19 As we have seen, if we make the best of our circumstances and trust in Jehovah completely, we will be able to keep our peace of mind no matter what happens. (Read Micah 7:7.) In time, we may realize that the way we adjusted to a change actually strengthened our friendship with Jehovah. Polite explains that being reassigned from Bethel has taught her what it really means to depend on Jehovah even when life seems very difficult. She says: “My relationship with him has deepened.”
20 Mary, who was quoted earlier, is still taking care of her elderly father and pioneering. She says: “I have learned that when I feel anxious, I need to stop, pray, and then relax. To leave things in Jehovah’s hands has probably been the biggest lesson that I have learned, and it will be ever so needed in the future.”
21 Lloyd and Alexandra admit that the changes in their life tested their faith in ways they did not expect. But they can see how these tests have actually helped them. Now they know that their faith is strong enough to bring them comfort when they have problems, and they feel that they have become better people.
22. If we do the best we can with our circumstances, what can we be sure of?
22 In this system, our lives can change suddenly. We may receive a different assignment in Jehovah’s service, develop health problems, or need to care for our family in a new way. But no matter what may happen, be confident that Jehovah cares about you and will help you at the right time. (Hebrews 4:16; 1 Peter 5:6, 7) And for now, do the best you can in your situation. Pray to your Father, Jehovah, and learn to rely on him completely. In this way, no matter how your circumstances change, you will always have the peace of mind that comes from Jehovah.
Years later, Joseph named his firstborn son Manasseh because, as he said: “God has made me forget all my trouble.” He understood that his son was a gift from Jehovah to comfort him.—Genesis 41:51, footnote.