“I am … under great stress.” – 1 Samuel 1:15
[From ws 6/19 p.8 Study Article 25: Aug 19-25, 2019]
“Jehovah, understands how stress affects us. And he wants to help us deal with the challenges we face. (Read Philippians 4:6, 7)”
So states paragraph 3. This is probably the most helpful and important Scripture mentioned in the WT article, yet, sadly, they do not expand upon it. Is the WT study article writer unfamiliar with “the peace of God that excels all thought”. This “peace of God” is very important as it is practical and does work.
Philippians says “Do not be anxious over anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication along with thanksgiving let YOUR petitions be made known to God; and the peace of God that excels all thought will guard YOUR hearts and YOUR mental powers by means of Christ Jesus.”
Supplication means “to ask or beg for something earnestly or humbly”. We supplicate God, and he uses Christ Jesus to effectively administer that peace of mind. This is not an empty promise. While God and Jesus may not intervene on a person’s behalf and make the problem disappear, they do give a peace of mind unlike anything else. This peace enables one to cope with whatever stress or problem he or she might be undergoing.
Until one experiences this peace of God, it is difficult to fully appreciate the refuge that it is. Speaking for myself, these were just nice sounding, encouraging words until I came to experience firsthand a time of great stress. Then this promise was put to the test. The result was an experience which is difficult to describe. It certainly has no explanation in human terms.
Paragraphs 4-6 discuss the example of Elijah, a man with feelings like ours. I am not sure of the point of this section. Yes, it is true that Elijah has feelings like ours, but he was also appointed with Holy Spirit to be a prophet. He had clear evidence of Jehovah’s blessing and protection in his life. On one occasion, he even had an angel help him regain strength. But none of that will happen to us today. None of us have been appointed as prophets to his people. None of us will get angelic help in the way Elijah did. Jehovah specifically assisted Elijah as God had chosen him to accomplish a certain purpose. He has not done that with anyone living on earth today.
The reason for including this seems to be to build up ones hope that God will intervene on our behalf today. However as paragraph 8 says. “He invites you to share your concerns with him and he will answer your cries for help….He [Jehovah] will not speak directly to you as he did to Elijah, but he will speak to you through his word The Bible, and through his Organization.”
As discussed many times, there is ample evidence the Organization is not Jehovah’s Organization but a man-made one. Therefore, he will not speak to us through that Organization, although many Witnesses will claim he does, because of coincidences. If one regularly attends meetings and reads all the literature, the mathematical probability that the literature will cover some problem someone is facing is high. But Jehovah is not specifically targeting help to that one, despite what they might feel. The main way God can help us is that when we ask for help in prayer thereby indicating our willingness to accept guidance he could use Holy Spirit to bring to our minds what we have previously learnt in his word. As for being encouraged by brothers and sisters, they would have to be willing to work along with Holy Spirit as it does not force anyone to do something against their will.
Paragraphs 11-15 discuss briefly the examples of Hannah, David and an unknown psalmist. Paragraph 14 states: “The three true worshippers just mentioned all relied on Jehovah for help. They shared their anxiety with him through fervent prayer. They spoke freely to him about the reasons why they were so stressed. And they continued to go to Jehovah’s place of worship.—1 Sam. 1:9, 10; Ps. 55:22; 73:17; 122:1.”
However, none of them went twice a week to a meeting with a prescribed format. Hannah went once a year to Shiloh, while for David and the psalmist the frequency is not mentioned. There was also clear evidence Jehovah had chosen the Israelites as his special people unlike today where there is no evidence that Jehovah and Jesus have chosen any particular religious Organization. Indeed, Jesus have a parable that indicates true Christians would be like individual stalks of wheat among weeds (Matthew 13:24-31).
Paragraph 16 highlights that “things changed when Nancy looked for ways to help others who were experiencing problems”. It is a well known fact that if we avoid being too introspective and put ourselves out to help others, physiologically our negative view of our own problems lessens. In part, this is because we often come into contact with others worse off than ourselves, which then helps put our own stress and problems in perspective. As Nancy said “I listened as others explained their struggles. I noticed that when I felt more empathy for them, I felt less pity for myself”.
Paragraph 17 gives Sophia’s view, which is the view the Organization wants us to follow.
“I have found that the more involved I am in the ministry and my congregation, the better I am able to deal with stress and worry.”
This is just a personal point of view the Organization is promoting because it suits them.
However, my personal experience is that it is often exactly this which causes stress and problems for many Witnesses as they try to bury their stress and problems under more and more ministry in the belief that by doing this, Jehovah will solve all their problems for them, which actually increases the stress rather than reducing it. This promoted view of Sophia’s is dangerous as it has become the stock answer given by elders to Witnesses with all sorts of problems. Whether marriage problems, loss of loved ones, financial difficulties, the answer given is the same: Do more in Jehovah’s service—by which they mean serve the Organization—and no attempt is made to tackle the cause of the problems.
The concluding paragraph (19) gives Romans 8:37-39 as the read scripture, but does not discuss it. It reads “On the contrary, in all these things we are coming off completely victorious through the one who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life nor angels nor governments nor things now here nor things to come nor powers nor height nor depth nor any other creation will be able to separate us from God’s love that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
The verses immediately prior to this state: “Who will separate us from the love of the Christ? Will tribulation or distress or persecution or hunger or nakedness or danger or sword? Just as it is written: “For your sake we are being put to death all day long, we have been accounted as sheep for slaughtering.”
As the context shows, these verses were written specifically about and for the early Christians undergoing vicious persecution because of their acceptance of Jesus as the Messiah. It was not talking about everyday stress and trials of life, although of course the principle can be extended to that. These verses reassure us that nothing has the power to stop us as Christians ultimately receiving Christ’s love, except ourselves. Yet, bear in mind that these verses are addressing spirit anointed Christians.
This scripture can actually reassure us that the fear, obligation and guilt that the Organization tries to instill in all Witnesses will fail, as compliance with it is not what will determine our future under Christ’s Kingdom. Rather it will be Christ’s merciful, unconditional love, and on our part simply doing our best to be true Christians.