Gaining Comfort In Your Tribulation

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Gaining Comfort in Your Tribulation

Phil Hayworth (Available on CD)

A little while ago, brothers, I was talking to a might know her, you might not...but she’d been married for over 50 years and her husband died. She was saying that she’d come home from a meeting at night and she’d been about halfway through a sentence talking to him when she realized that he wasn’t there anymore, he was dead. She’d have nightmares at night. She would wake up and she’d go to reach for him for comfort and the bed was empty, he was gone. I just mention that because, what do you call that, what she was going through? The Bible calls it tribulation, distress, acute distress.

I’m thinking of another sister, again you might know her, but she is a very bubbling, outgoing type of sister and she suffers from very deep depression and she was saying to me, she said, “I don’t talk about it anymore to anybody because,” she said, “I mention it to brothers and they’ll say, oh, you’ll get over it, you’ll snap out of it in a few weeks and she said there are some mornings when I just don’t want to get out of bed. I just don’t want to get out of bed. And she said and there are some mornings when I just want to die. She said I want to die. And the brothers will say to me...but you’ve got the truth, you shouldn’t feel that way. And you’ve got a lovely family, you’ve got everything to live for.” What’s she going through? Tribulation. And what does she need, like that first sister that we mentioned? She needs comfort and help, doesn’t she? Real comfort.

I’m thinking of another brother, you don’t know this one. But this brother was a pioneer and he committed immorality a number of times, did the wrong thing. And when I was talking to him, he said, “I have just blown it, the whole lot. I’ve blown it with Jehovah. I’ve blown it with the congregation. And I’ve blown it with my family, everything. I just feel useless.” Well, what’s he going through? Tribulation, same thing you see. And what’s he needing? He needs comfort. Well, is there any comfort for somebody like that that’s done the wrong thing deliberately?

Well, your distress or tribulation, brothers, or mine might not be as great as that or it might be even greater. I might not even be able to begin to understand the depth of your private secret distress or tribulation, and you’re really suffering. Well, what do you need? You need comfort. And it might be that you just plain feel downright worthless and you don’t know why. You’ve always felt that way, even with the truth....well, that’s tribulation. Or it may be that you’re battling with some secret bad habit and you’ve been wrestling with it for years and it keeps coming back and you think, well, what good am I in the truth. It’s tribulation. It worries you, gets at you. Or maybe you’ve got the sort of personality that just grates on others, it rubs on others, and you find it hard to make friends even in the truth. Well, that’s tribulation too, isn’t it?

But whatever it is, whatever form the tribulation takes, we all need comfort, don’t we? Where can we turn? Is there somewhere where we can turn? There is, brothers, and this scripture at 2 Corinthians chapter 1...please look at it carefully...on the surface it looks very, very sinful but it is so profound, it is so deep, and it is so very, very comforting when we understand it properly. It’s 2 Cor. 1:3, 4 “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of tender mercies and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation.” There’s the scripture. Now, in the midst of tribulation, who does it say to turn to? It says turn to God. Why? Because it says he’s the father. You might say that when I used to turn to my father when I had tribulation when I was little, he’d just give me a clip across the ear and say, “Pick yourself up and get on with it and stop moaning and whinging.*” But not this father. This father is different. This father is the Father of tender mercies. In other words, this father is not just God, he’s not just the creator of the universe, he’s somebody deeply interested in you, personally, your feelings, your tribulation, your distress that you’re going through.

And what will he do about it? There is no two ways about it that he will do something, but what will he do? Notice in verse 4 it says he “will comfort us in all our tribulation.” You will get comfort if you turn to him. There is no doubt. The Bible assures that. But notice where it says he will give us comfort. It says he will give it to us “in all our tribulation.” It doesn’t say he will take the tribulation away. No, he won’t do that. As a matter of fact, when you turn to him the tribulation might even get worse, often it does...things just go from bad to worse when you turn to him. But he says in the midst of all that mess that you’re in, he will give you comfort while you’re in it. He won’t take the tribulation away for one reason, because his time for doing that is very, very close. During the thousand-year reign of Jesus, he’ll take away every single reason for distress or tribulation. Depression, death, sickness...whatever it is that is causing your tribulation now...that is going to be gone very soon. So don’t worry about that, that’s going. What we’ve got to worry about is getting comfort in the midst of all this mess that we’re in. And while we’re in it, while it’s going on, this Father of tender mercies will give comfort. You might say, “Well, I don’t know, I don’t think you’ve touched on my tribulation, I think mine is too deep.” Well, you’re wrong, I’m happy to say because it says he comforts us in...what’s that word....ALL our tribulation. Nobody escapes. If you want comfort, he’ll get you and he’ll comfort you. He really will. So that’s the situation. brothers, there is a God out there, he’s a father, he loves you and he wants to comfort you and that’s where we turn.

But you might say, “Well, yes, but on occasions I have turned to God in times of distress, and I’ve looked for comfort, but I haven’t got it.” Me, too. I’ve done that and I’ve felt the same way. No, Jehovah is not there or he’s not listening and he’s not comforting me. That’s exactly how I felt. So if you’ve felt that way, it makes two of us or more, okay? But do you know what my problem was? When I turned to Jehovah in prayer and I said, “Jehovah, I can’t stand this anymore, I need comfort.” Do you know what my problem was? I was looking in the wrong direction for comfort. Either I was expecting him to take the tribulation or the distress away...he doesn’t say he will do that...or I was looking for the wrong means of his giving comfort. Like, I was just thinking of an illustration. I’m walking through the bush and here’s the track. I’m following the track and the track all of a sudden stops and there’s a river. And on the other side of the river the track continues. So I say to you, “Goodness me, we need a bridge here. To get across this river we need a bridge, there’s no other way across. There’s no doubt about it, we need a bridge.” But you say to me, “Well, Phil, just look down there, just a little way down. There’s a little rowboat with oars. We could use that to get across.” And I say to you, “Oh, no, no. This is where the track finishes and it begins again on the other side exactly here. This is where we’re going across. I need a bridge right here.” “But there’s a rowboat down here, you say, and it might take a bit of effort but it’ll get us across just the same.” “No! We need a bridge to get across this river.”

Now, what’s the problem? Is the problem that there is no way across the river? No, the problem’s with me. I’m looking for my way my way across the river. There is no other way, it’s gotta be this way, you see? That’s the way I can be sometimes and you can be that way, instead of looking for what Jehovah might be using, Jehovah will always give us comfort. There we are, there’s the river, there’s the tribulation, how am I going to get through it? Well, yes, we’ll get through, but it won’t be our way. Jehovah will always provide a rowboat. There’ll always be a way across, but it won’t necessarily be your way. Maybe there won’t be a bridge there, you see?

But what way will Jehovah use? What form will his comfort take in the midst of that tribulation? Well, the outline to this talk, it says to receive comfort we must accept and apply the help that Jehovah extends to us through his spirit, his Word, and his congregation. Now he can use any one of those things or a combination of them to give you or me comfort in the midst of that tribulation....his spirit, his Word, his congregation. You might say, “Well, how would he use his spirit to give me comfort?” I don’t know. His spirit was used to form the universe, it’s not limited, is it? So whatever your tribulation is, the spirit is not limited. It can bring scriptures to your mind, it can cause people to call at your door, it can cause any number of circumstances to be maneuvered so that you receive comfort in the midst of your tribulation. Or, he can use his Word. In the midst of a! A scripture comes to your mind, there it is, this dynamic text that you need right at that time or a series of them. Or he may use the congregation, where a brother or a sister knocks at your door and they don’t even realize that they are being used by the holy spirit and by Jehovah to give you comfort. But Jehovah can use all of these things or a combination of them to give comfort in the midst of tribulation.

Like, I’m thinking of a sister, and I’ll call her Janice. It’s not Janice, but I’ll call her that. And she was suffering from very, very bad depression, not just ordinary...a few tears every now and again...but really deep depression. She prayed to Jehovah and said, “Jehovah, I really need help. This is really getting me down.” It was starting to affect everything in the truth. And this particular day, there was, I’ll put the story together later, but there was this young couple, pioneer couple, a husband and his wife, and they were witnessing in another part of the territory and the previous day they had been to the Watchtower study and the Watchtower study was all about comforting depressed souls. Now, it was based on this scripture, I think it’s 1 Thessalonians...just have a look at it please, brothers. 1 Th. 5:14. This whole Watchtower study that they’d been to the day before was based on 1 Th. 5:14. And right in the middle of it, notice what it says: “Speak consolingly to the depressed souls.” And the whole Watchtower study was about doing this and how to do it and this husband turned to his wife and he said, “Janice. She wasn’t at the meeting yesterday, was she? And she wasn’t at the service meeting either. And the Watchtower study the day before all about comforting depressed souls...let’s go and see her.” And so they went right across the territory, knocked at Janice’s door, took some oranges, and had a great talk about the scriptures and by the time they finished Janice was over the moon! She was really feeling great.

But just interrupting the story there, who was it that arranged for that scripture to be in the Bible...that said whenever you see any of the brothers depressed, speak consolingly to them? I want them comforted. Who put that there? Jehovah. Who was it that arranged for that Watchtower study in every country of the earth so that every depressed person in every congregation could be comforted? Jehovah. He arranged for that Watchtower study. And who was it that heard Janice when she said, “Jehovah, please, please help me. I need help.” And who was it that maneuvered that couple to go and give her comfort in the midst of her tribulation? It was Jehovah. Why? Because 2 Corinthians said “he is the Father of tender mercies.” He cared about Janice. He listened to her. He maneuvered things, arranged things for her comfort in the midst of the tribulation. Do you think Janice appreciated that? Not on your life! As soon as the couple went, she went back to Jehovah and said, “Jehovah, that was nice but I’m still depressed now and what are you going to do about this depression and how am I going to get through this?” (laughs) She couldn’t see the rowboat you see. She was looking for the bridge. And constantly time after time Jehovah would give her comfort through the brothers, through the scriptures, through all kinds of means. It doesn’t say he’ll take the depression away, does it. But he’ll comfort us in the midst of that tribulation and he did that with Janice. pulled out all the stops and used his Word, his spirit, his congregation, the whole lot.

But, brothers, the main means that Jehovah will use to comfort us in the midst of that tribulation is Romans chapter 15. Would you please look at this with me? It’s very important that we understand this, Romans 15:4, because this is Jehovah’s chief means of giving comfort. And it says in Romans 15:4 “For all the things that were written aforetime (in the Bible) were written for our instruction, that through our endurance and through the comfort (there it is) through the comfort from the (where does it say it comes from) from the scriptures we might have hope.” So what’s Jehovah’s chief means of giving us comfort in the midst of our distress? The scriptures. What will the scriptures do? They’ll reawaken our hope, something dynamic within us, that’ll make us want to go on, to keep going. That’s what the scriptures will do.

But you might say, “But when I’ve felt really bad or I’ve been in the midst of tribulation, I’ve read the Bible and it hasn’t comforted me.” You, too? I’ve felt that way as well. In the midst of tribulation, I’ve read the Bible and I haven’t been comforted one bit. You know why? I was doing it the wrong way. There’s a technique. There’s a way of doing it to receive comfort. Like if you get in that rowboat with me, you’d wonder why you weren’t moving. Because, the way I would row, I skim...the oars skim across the surface of the water and I don’t dig in and so you say why isn’t the boat moving. Because you need...there’s a special technique for rowing, isn’t there. And the same with using the Bible to be of comfort in the midst of tribulation, there’s a special way of using it. There’s a special technique. It will always comfort if it’s used properly. And you know what the technique is? Psalm must look at it...Psalm 1 and verse 2...because this is so, so important, brothers, Psalm 1:2. This won’t work if you don’t do this. I guarantee it because I fell into that trap myself. ______you could just pick up the Bible and read it and you’d feel don’t. There’s a special way and this is what it is. Psalm 1:2. It’s talking about you and me. It says, “Our delight is in the law of Jehovah (we do, it makes us happy, doesn’t it...but it says) in his law, in Jehovah’s law, his Word, the scriptures....”he reads in an undertone day and night.”

So first of all, what does it say you have to do with the Bible to get comfort? It says first of all you have to read it. You can’t get past that, you’ve got to read it. Pick it up, open it, read it. Okay. Now when, when do you read it? When the tribulation begins? That’s a very bad time because at the time when you’re in the midst of the tribulation, your heart and mind are in a mess, aren’t they. You don’t know where to turn. Nothing’s of comfort then. It says read it day and night, it day and night while everything’s okay. Read it day and night. What does it mean read it day and night? Well, it doesn’t mean every single minute of every single day and all night and so forth. It means regularly, do it regularly every day. Pick up the Bible and read something from it. You have to do that. You know why? Because our mind and heart are like a reservoir and when you read something from the Bible it goes “click” into that library or reservoir. And then, when you’re in the midst of tribulation and you don’t feel like reading the know what happens then? You call out to Jehovah. His holy spirit then can bring up from the reservoir the book that you’ve popped into the library, you see? That’s scripture, or that thought, or whatever it is. But we must read the Bible comprehensively day and night, regularly, even if it’s only 10 minutes a day, but every day, for our mind and heart to become a reservoir for the things we need. Okay?

Well, I’ve left out the most important point. You have to read it; you have to read it every day; but what else does it say? It says read it in an undertone. Do you know what that means? Other Bible translations don’t say that. They say when you’re reading, meditate. Meditate on it. Well, you might say I hate the thought of that word, meditation. Why do I have to that? Why can’t I just read it? Because the outline to this talk says this about meditation. It says meditation anchors truths deep in your mind and heart. Then, listen to this, then when you’re faced with sudden tribulation, you can draw on those things you’ve already learned and stored away. So, meditation anchors the truth deep in our mind and heart.

So, what is meditation? You might think it sounds complicated but it’s not. You know what meditation is according to the Hebrew word? The Hebrew word means whispering to yourself, talking to yourself. While you’re reading the Bible, you just expand on what you’re reading. You talk to yourself about it. You’re reading through the Psalms and you say, now, I wonder what that means, “everything he does will succeed.” It means that if I keep on reading the Bible, I’m going to be successful. Just talk to yourself like that. What does this mean to me? What is Jehovah trying to tell me through this? What is this teaching me about Jehovah’s personality? Just talk to yourself like that, expand on what you’re reading. Now you might think that’s very simplistic, but you know what? That’s one of the most powerful influences on your heart and your mind that you’ll ever do....talking to yourself as you’re reading the Bible, talking about what you’re reading, and putting yourself in the picture. Or if you’re reading a Bible account like Jesus’ miracles or Joshua doing something, put yourself into it. See it and feel it and touch it and smell it and hear it and then it becomes real, the whole thing becomes real and it affects your heart, you see.

Well how do we do that? Let’s put it into something that we can really do ourselves. Let’s take an example of somebody who loses a loved one. Probably that’s the greatest form of tribulation that anybody would ever go through because a part of yourself is ripped away, isn’t it. Your loved one dies and that person’s gone and you’re left with only a part of yourself. Well, now, will knowing the scripture in Acts 24:15 help you at that time? Do you know what Acts 24:15 says? There’s going to be a resurrection of the righteous and the unrighteousness. I can quote it off by heart and so can you. You do it probably every weekend going from house to house, the resurrection of the righteous and the unrighteous. My loved one’s just died. I just had my heart ripped out. I’ve just been hit by a sledge hammer. My feelings are in a mess. Quoting Acts 24:15 to that going to help me, there’s going to be a resurrection? You’re going to see your loved one again. My feelings are in a mess. It’s not the mind, it’s the feelings, isn’t it. They’re in a mess. So we’ve got to fight feelings with feelings. We have to, or rather I should say, we have to comfort feelings with feelings. In other words, the resurrection hope has to be a part of my feelings. It has to be real to me so that when that happens then Jehovah can bring it back, the whole _____________________, emotions, thinking, everything to give me comfort at that time.

For example, when I’m reading the example in the Bible of the resurrection of Jairus’ daughter, that little 12-year-old girl. I’ll read it, I’ll read the words, but then what have I got to do? I’ve got to read it in an undertone. I’ve got to translate that into the language of the heart, the feelings. How do I do that? Well, I’ve got to go there. I’ve got to use all my senses. My heart reacts to smell. I’ve got to smell it. I’ve got to hear it. I’ve got to see it. I’ve got to touch it. You see? All my senses and then my heart starts to react. That’s what the Bible calls reading in an undertone, you see? So it becomes part of the heart. For example, you’re reading the account of the resurrection of Jairus’ daughter....but you have to be there, brothers, in the street, in the main street of Capernaum. Can you feel yourself being jostled by the crowds? What can you smell? Do you smell the little sparrows on the sticks, the shish-kabob sparrows being barbecued in the street, in the market? Can you smell it? You feel the crowds knocking you around? You feel the strong presence of the Master next to you? You always feel his strength, his presence next to you. You feel that? And through the crowd you see this man pushing and he’s beautifully dressed, ornately dressed, but his face is so strained and his eyes are so red and you see him fall at the Master’s feet. And you hear people whispering, “It’s Jairus. Jairus. The presiding officer of the synagogue.” And you hear Jairus, you see him looking up into the face of the Master, you’re standing there, you can see his face, you’re standing right to Jesus. And you see him look up and he says, “Teacher, I’m sorry to bother you, but my little girl...she’s dying and if you could just come quickly, if you could just touch her, she’ll be better again.” You hear the words and straight away you hear the Master say, “Come.” And he’s on his way and you’re with him. But you notice a woman just dart like a bee out of the crowd and she touches Jesus’ garment and he stops and, typically of him, you see him give his full attention to this woman. But he can’t afford the time. This little girl is dying, she’s dying. And you think, “Master, why are you doing this? This woman is not dying. The little girl is. You can come back and fix this woman up but this little girl is dying.” And sure enough, just a few moments later you see two men pushing their way through the crowd. They go up to Jairus and they say, “We’re sorry Master. Don’t bother the teacher any longer. Your little girl has died.”

Do you have children? You’ve got children? All right. Now your child, substitute your child now for Jairus’ daughter. It might be a bit rough, but you’ve got to bring your feelings into it now. What’s it like to have a dead child? I don’t mean to be rough with this, brothers, but we’re reading in an undertone. What’s it like to have a dead child? You are Jairus now. Your child has died. All hope is gone, the child is dead, she’s finished. It’s too late. And now you feel the strong hand of the Master on your arm and you hear the words, “Don’t worry. Just exercise faith. Don’t be afraid.” You feel the power of the words. You feel him escort you through the crowd. You hear the wailing of the flutes. Can you hear it, can you hear all the wailing of the flutes in your courtyard? You know she’s dead. The women wailing and screaming because the child is no more? But the teacher just propels your through the crowd up to your big door, pushes it open, inside your house....boom...the door closes. The heat and the dust is outside, the noise, the flutes, everything outside. And now the silence, silence of the big room. ???

What can you say? Across the other side of the marble floor a little bed, little bed. And on it your little girl. Nothing moving. The pallor of death is on her, her chest is not rising and falling. Just a few days you were laughing and cuddling, kissing, jumping around. She’s gone. You’ve lost her and that’s her, over there. Do you see her? You must use your eyes, see her lying on that bed. You hear the slapping of the Master’s sandals as he walks across to her. And you watch watch him. Watch him as he looks down and kneels. Now watch him take the little cold hand in his. See, this is your daughter. You watch him take the little cold hand in his big, rough, carpenter’s hand. And now you listen to him, you hear him whisper to the little girl, “Tal´i·tha cu´mi,” little girl wake up, wake up. Well, you’re not breathing, your eyes are just riveted to your little girl’s eyelids and you notice them, almost imperceptibly at first, but you notice them start to move, to twitch, to flitter. And you notice her chest begin to rise and fall and then you notice the eyelids pop open and the big brown eyes are looking straight up into the Master’s face and you see the Master raise your little girl up and put his big arms around her and she puts her arms around him and he smiles and brings her to her feet. You can just hear your wife gasping and she can’t get her breath and your heart’s stopped. And the Master is leading your little girl back towards you and she is a bit unsteady and she’s smiling and the Master is smiling too and he says to you, “Give her something to eat now. She’s hungry. She’s been dead.” In other words, what’s all the worry about, what’s all the fuss about? She was only dead. She was only dead. Just believe and you’ll see the power of God, you see. Don’t be anxious. I’ll fix it all up for you.

What have you just done, brothers? You’ve been reading in an undertone, you see. You’ve smelt it, you’ve touched it, you’ve seen it, you’ve heard it, you’ve been there, you’ve seen the Son of God resurrect a child. All of your faculties have been used to do it. It’s a part of your heart, a part of your feelings now, you see. And now you reinforce that with the logic of the mind and you say to yourself, “Now how many people saw that?” More people saw that event than is needed to prove a thing in a court of law, more than two people. And when Matthew and Mark wrote that account, those people, as many people as saw it, were still alive and could be questioned, could be cross-examined. So you’ve read in an undertone, you’ve talked to yourself about this and it’s part of you, you see....a part of you. You have seen a resurrection, you’ve been there. And now you, yourself, lose a loved one and you cry out to Jehovah. This is no time for reading the Bible. You don’t feel like picking it up. Now? But you cry out to Jehovah and his holy spirit brings back what? All those feelings, that whole event, your witnessing that resurrection and so those feelings of yours that are in a mess now come to be comforted by that set of feelings you put within you by reading in the Bible in an undertone, you see, meditating on it. You see what it means, brothers, to meditate, to read in an undertone. But, of course, that won’t take away the pain but it will give comfort in the midst of the tribulation.

But there is something else, Brothers, that is necessary in the midst of tribulation when problems arise and that’s mentioned in Psalm 18. We read the Bible first of all in an undertone, make sure we do it every day, put something in the reservoir. But this is something we need to do too when distress comes. Did I say Psalm 18? It’s Psalm 18 and verse 6. You might think this is fairly obvious but this is very important too. It says, “In my distress, in the middle of my tribulation (David says) I kept calling upon Jehovah.” So what do you do? The trouble comes, the distress, the depression, the loss of a loved one, the brutality in the house, the memories of child abuse, whatever it might be, whatever the tribulation might out to Jehovah. Pray to him. Tell him specifically what’s bothering you. As much as you can, describe your feelings. Put it all before him. You might say, “Well, I’ve done that.” But, brothers, notice it says don’t just call upon Jehovah. It says I kept calling on him. Convince Jehovah you really want to be comforted. Keep on talking to him about it and then something will happen. Notice the rest of that verse says, “Out of his temple he (Jehovah) proceeded to hear my voice.” Jehovah will hear every time, he will hear every time. Now, what will he do then? Verse 18 says he will not take the tribulation away, it could get worse. Verse 18 says, “They (that’s David’s enemies, this is after he prayed) “They kept confronting me in the day of my disaster” (nothing changed, his enemies kept coming after him. Jehovah didn’t stop them. But what was the difference?) “But Jehovah came to be as a support for me.” Right in the midst of the tribulation, whatever it was, David felt as though he was standing there and there was Jehovah right next to him.

Probably the best way of describing it...I remember a sister years ago. I can’t even begin to describe what she was going through, it was so terrible. But she prayed to Jehovah and this tribulation just went on and on and she said it just got worse. She said the more I prayed the worse it got. It was just so shocking. But she said after a while, after a few days, she said I started to wonder why isn’t this affecting me like it was a few days ago? Why aren’t I going to pieces anymore? Why do I feel as though I’m in a bubble with all this mess going on around me? But I’m in the bubble and I’m looking out and it’s still all the same but I feel comforted. It’s because of that, see, it works, brothers, it works. You just talk to Jehovah, tell him what the problem is and the comfort will come in the midst of distress. Jehovah will bring us through. The boat will be there to get us across the water.

So, reading the Bible, praying, but then just another thing, brothers, and this is where we might touch a cord that maybe you don’t want to be touched. You might say, “Well, I can understand, I can understand Jehovah giving comfort to somebody who’s got a personality problem or comfort to somebody who’s lost a loved one or who’s depressed...I can understand that. But, with me, it’s different because I brought the tribulation upon myself.” You see, I don’t understand what your situation is, brothers, but I’m just talking about how some brothers and sisters have felt. They say, well, I left the truth. A sister just a little while ago was talking to me about this. She said, “I left the truth and she said I went into the world. I committed fornication night after night after night.” And she said, “I ended up having an abortion, knowing the truth and then having an abortion. And she said this has been on my mind for so long and what comfort is there for me? Why should I be comforted? Why should God be interested in me when I’ve done that and I’ve taken a child’s life?” You see? You can understand her thinking that way, can’t you?

Or you might say, I went into the world and I committed homosexual acts. Or there is nothing I didn’t do, it was just so bad. Or I was on drugs, heavy drugs. Or I haven’t gone into the world but in the secrecy of my room at night, I do degrading things to my body. I, maybe as well, watch videos that I shouldn’t be watching. I’m bringing the tribulation on myself. I just feel I shouldn’t be here today. All these clean people and me so filthy in my spirit after what I’ve done. Really, I don’t deserve comfort. Is that the way you feel?

Well, I’m happy to say you’re wrong. You’re wrong because there’s a story in the Bible that says you’re wrong. And this story is not an ordinary story because it was told by Jesus, the Son of God himself. And Jesus told this story because there were people like...if you’re feeling this way...there were people like you in his day who felt that they’d gone too far. They felt that they’d sort of committed the unforgivable sin. Have you ever felt that way? I can’t get God’s spirit any more. I’ve been so bad. I’ve gone too far, there’s no coming back, There’s no comfort for me because I don’t deserve it any more. Well, Jesus told this story for those people and it was the story of a boy and he was brought up in the truth, taught to love Jehovah, and love his father and so forth. But he looked at the world and he said I want that, I want what the world has got and he said to his father, he said, “Dad, can you give me what’s coming to me, my inheritance? I want it now and I want to go and live in the world.”

Well, the story doesn’t say but you can only imagine the dad saying, “Son, don’t do it, don’t hurt yourself. Stay here with me. There’s everything here. I love you. We all love you. Stay here in the house.” “No, Dad.” He didn’t want it. He turned his back on his father, turned his back on everything that was good and proper and right and went off and did his own thing. Well, what was the father’s reaction? What does the story say? Does it say the father said, “Right, Son. Good riddance. Don’t bother coming back over this doorstep any more. You’ve made your bed, lie in it. I don’t want to hear from you anymore.” Was that the father’s reaction? To the contrary, the story seems to indicate that the father many times through the day went to that window, the window of his house, and he’d look out at the road and wonder is my boy coming home. Is he coming home? He was watching, see. And then he heard about a famine in the land where his boy had gone and what was the father’s reaction then? Did the father say, “Right. Good. Good. Let him rub his nose in it. That’s the life he’s picked, let him have it. Let him reap what he’s sown.” There’s no record that the father said that or felt that way. But all the indications are that he just kept going to that window and saying to himself, “I wonder will my boy come home today? Will he come home?” But meanwhile in the distant land, the boy just blew everything. He blew the money, he blew everything on harlots, loose living, there’s nothing he didn’t do. He went to the bottom of the barrel until the money ran out, everything ran out, his friends ran out, everything. Nobody wanted to know him anymore. And there he was way off in a distant land. What was he going to do? Well, he probably thought many times, I could go back. No, I can’t go back. I’ve burned that bridge. How can I go back after what I’ve done? And then the famine came and he had no money and he had to get work. He had to get work and so he hired himself out to a pig farmer...a Jew working for a pig farmer...the humiliation of it, in the mud and slops and having to fill himself off pig food to keep himself alive.

And that could have been the end of the story. That could have been it. Jesus could just have said, ‘Right. So there it is, you reap what you sow. That’s it. You leave the truth and that’s what happens. You burned your bridges. Good riddance to you.” There’s the moral of the story. Couldn’t Jesus have said that? That wasn’t the point of his story. He’s hardly halfway through yet because this boy while he’s in amongst the slop and the says he came to his senses. He started thinking to himself, “Well, my dad, I’ve turned my back on him and I don’t expect him to forgive me or anything like that but there are people working for my dad in the fields who are better off than I am. They’re far better off than I am. Maybe if I went back, maybe if I just, through one of the servants, if I just ask him, well, can I just have a job? Can I just work in the fields? Can I just be a slave? I’d be better off than I am now. I don’t like my chances but I’ll try it.”

And so he picked himself up and he went. He started on that journey and, just think, read in an undertone and, brothers, many times through that journey what are you thinking? You’re him. What are you thinking? You see your father’s face. You see a supercilious look on it. “Come home, have you? Ah, come home at last. What’s this you’re dressed in? Well, yes, yes. Have you learned anything?” Maybe many times this conversation went through his mind. Many times you feel like turning back but, by this time, you are at the top of the rise that leading down the long road towards your father’s beautiful house in the distance. It’s too late to turn back now but this is the hard bit. This is the home stretch. And you can feel everything within you tensing up, you feel your muscles steeling, ready for the humiliation, ready for the tongue lashing, ready for the rejection. And so you start down the road in this state, but you notice the door open. You notice somebody coming out of the door and from this distance you can’t tell who it is. It might be one of the handmaidens. It might be one of the slaves. It might be your brother. But as he gets closer you know it’s not your brother and you know it’s not one of the handmaidens and you know it’s not one of the slaves. It’s the one you turned your back on. It’s the one you spat on. It’s the one you denied and he’s running along the road to meet you now. It’s your father and you just, in the middle of that road, with all your smelly clothes from all the pig slop stained into it...this is what you’ve come back with. You went away with all that money with your head in the air. And now you’re standing in the middle of that road with the pig slop all over you.

This is the way you’ve come home. And you can’t bear to look up. You just bow your head and wait for it, wait for it. You’ve got it coming, haven’t you? But all you feel are two arms around you and all you hear is your father crying, no words. Then you think he’s not understanding me and he’s not understanding the situation and you try to push him away. And you say, “Father, you don’t realize what I’ve done. I’ve been to the bottom of the barrel. Look at me. There’s nothing I haven’t done. I’ve sinned against heaven and I’ve sinned against you. I’m not worthy to be your son anymore. Just make me one of your slaves, just give me a job.” And your father backs away a bit and he says, “Slave? Slave? You’re not a slave. You’re my son. You’re my son.” And by this time the servants are all standing around gawking at you and he says, “Quick. Bring a robe, the best one and put it on him. Bring a ring and put it on his hand. Bring sandals and put them on his feet.” And the servants might just be standing there gawking and thinking, “What, him? Him? After what he’s done?” And the father says, “Do it, because this my son is dead and he’s come to life again. And this my son was lost, but he’s been found.”

Well, that’s the end of the story, brothers, for what we want anyway. But the most powerful truth in that story, brothers, is that father is Jehovah. The father IS Jehovah. Not Jehovah is like that father. That father is God himself. And there’s nothing that boy didn’t do. He did everything, whether it was homosexuality, harlots, the whole lot. And then he came back with the pig clothes on and the father took him back, as he was, because he came to his senses.

And that’s what we want to say, brothers, through this talk. The outline to this talk is saying this. That you, you might say, “But I have done so many bad things.” But the story is to tell you that you have a father waiting for you. You have a father who hasn’t given up on you. You have a father who wants you to come home. You’ve got a father who wants to put his arms around you and to say, “Welcome back, Son.” or “Welcome back, my little girl.” And that’s the whole point of the story.

And you might say, “But what if I’ve done things so bad that I have to see the elders about it? Well, wouldn’t that change things having to see men and tell them what I’ve been through and what I’ve done?” _______________ just a little while ago I was on a Judicial Committee. The person had committed sins time after time after time...very bad things. And we were sitting in the library of the Kingdom Hall and he came in this night. There were three of us there and his face was like chalk and he walked through the door and you could tell he’d give up on himself. And he said, “brothers, just disfellowship me. Just get rid of me.” He said, “I’ve just done so much that’s bad I don’t deserve to be here. Just get rid of me.” And the elder brother who was sitting next to me...I’ll never forget what he said. He said, “Sit down, Son.” He said, “Why would Jehovah want to do that to you when you feel so bad about what you’ve done? Why would he want to get rid of you? Why would he want to do that when he says in the book of Isaiah though your sins be as scarlet, he will make them as white as snow? Sit down, Son. Let’s talk.” And it was just lovely to be there. And this boy came right around and came to his senses and fully repented. So if you have to see the elders, so what? They’re Jehovah’s representatives, you see. But the point is, you’ve got a father there waiting to comfort you in the midst of that tribulation that you brought upon yourself. There’s still a God there because the outline to this talk says says you may feel unworthy of God’s goodness because of a bad conscience or because of a previous bad way of life. And you know what the outline says? It says ALL, no matter what I’ve done, ALL should find comfort in the story of the prodigal son. ALL

So, brothers, there it is. You’ve got tribulation. I’ve got it. It doesn’t end. It won’t end until after Armageddon, will it? But in the midst of that tribulation, what can we receive? We can receive comfort. By doing what? By going to Jehovah. And why do we go to him, call out to him, pray to him, specifically put everything before him? Because the Bible says he’s our father and, not only our father, but he’s the Father of tender mercies and truly he loves us.

* Definition


verb [I] whingeing or whinging UK INFORMAL DISAPPROVING

to complain, especially about something which does not seem important:

Oh stop whinging, for heaven's sake!

She's always whingeing (on) about something.

a person who complains continually, whine, moan, complain fretfully

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