“Prove yourselves ready.”—MATT. 24:44.
SONG 150 Seek God for Your Deliverance
1. Why is it wise to prepare for disasters?
PREPARATION saves lives. For example, when a disaster strikes, people who have prepared for it are more likely to survive and to be able to help others. A humanitarian organization in Europe put it this way: “Good preparation can make all the difference.”
2. Why should we prepare for the great tribulation? (Matthew 24:44)
2 The “great tribulation” will strike suddenly. (Matt. 24:21) Unlike many other disasters, however, the great tribulation will not catch everyone off guard. About 2,000 years ago, Jesus warned his followers to get ready for that day. (Read Matthew 24:44.) If we are prepared, it will be easier for us to go through that difficult time and to help others to do the same.—Luke 21:36.
3. How will endurance, compassion, and love help us to be ready for the great tribulation?
3 Consider three qualities that can help us to be ready for the great tribulation. How will we respond if we are asked to preach a hard-hitting judgment message and unbelievers oppose us? (Rev. 16:21) We will need endurance to obey Jehovah, trusting that he will protect us. What will we do if our brothers lose some or all of their material things? (Hab. 3:17, 18) We will need compassion to move us to provide them with relief. How will we react if, as a result of the attack by a coalition of nations, we have to live in close quarters with our brothers and sisters for a while? (Ezek. 38:10-12) We will need strong love for them to help us get through that difficult time.
4. How does the Bible indicate that we must keep cultivating endurance, compassion, and love?
4 God’s Word encourages us to keep cultivating endurance, compassion, and love. Luke 21:19 says: “By your endurance you will preserve your lives.” Colossians 3:12 states: “Clothe yourselves with . . . compassion.” And 1 Thessalonians 4:9, 10 says: “You yourselves are taught by God to love one another. . . . But we urge you, brothers, to go on doing so in fuller measure.” All these verses were addressed to disciples who had already shown endurance, compassion, and love. Yet, they had to continue developing these qualities. We must do the same. To help us, we will consider how the early Christians demonstrated each quality. Then we will see how we can imitate those disciples and, as a result, prove ourselves ready for the great tribulation.
STRENGTHEN YOUR ENDURANCE
5. How did the early Christians endure their trials?
5 The early Christians needed to endure. (Heb. 10:36) Besides dealing with problems common to all people, they faced additional trials. Many of them were persecuted, not only by Jewish religious leaders and the Roman authorities but also by their own families. (Matt. 10:21) And within the congregation, sometimes they had to fight the influence of the apostates and their divisive teachings. (Acts 20:29, 30) Yet, those Christians endured. (Rev. 2:3) How? They reflected on Scriptural examples of endurance, such as Job. (Jas. 5:10, 11) They prayed for strength. (Acts 4:29-31) And they focused on the good results of their endurance.—Acts 5:41.
6. What do you learn from what Merita did to endure opposition?
6 We too can endure if we regularly study examples of endurance in God’s Word and in our publications and meditate on them. By doing that, Merita, a sister in Albania, was able to face violent family opposition. She says: “I was deeply moved when I studied the Bible account of Job. He suffered so much—not knowing who was causing his tests—and yet he said: ‘Until I die, I will not renounce my integrity!’ (Job 27:5) I thought about how my tests paled in comparison with Job’s. Unlike him, I knew who was behind these trials.”
7. Even if we are not currently facing a severe trial, what should we learn to do now?
7 We can also build up our endurance by frequently and earnestly sharing our concerns with Jehovah. (Phil. 4:6; 1 Thess. 5:17) Perhaps you are not facing a severe trial right now. Even so, do you seek Jehovah’s guidance whenever you feel upset, confused, or overwhelmed? If you regularly turn to our God for help with your day-to-day challenges now, you will not hesitate to do so when you face bigger challenges in the future. You will then be confident that he knows precisely when and how to act in your behalf.—Ps. 27:1, 3.
8. How does Mira’s example show that enduring trials today can help us with future trials? (James 1:2-4) (See also picture.)
8 We are more likely to endure the future great tribulation if we endure trials today. (Rom. 5:3) Why can we say that? Many brothers have found that each test of faith that they endured helped them withstand the next challenge. Endurance refined them, strengthening their faith that Jehovah is ready and willing to help. Faith, in turn, helped them endure the next trial. (Read James 1:2-4.) Mira, a pioneer in Albania, has found that her past endurance has helped her to continue enduring. She admits that sometimes she feels that she is the only one who has so many problems. But then she recalls how much Jehovah has done in the last 20 years to support her, and she tells herself: ‘Stay faithful. Don’t let all those years and all those battles that you have won with Jehovah’s help go to waste.’ You too can reflect on how Jehovah has already helped you to endure. Be confident that he notices each time you endure a trial and that he will reward you. (Matt. 5:10-12) Then when the great tribulation begins, you will have learned how to endure and you will be determined to continue to endure.
9. How did the congregation in Antioch of Syria show compassion?
9 Consider what happened when Christians in Judea experienced a great famine. After the congregation in Antioch of Syria heard about the famine, they doubtless felt compassion for their brothers in Judea. But then they put their compassion into action. They “determined, each according to what he could afford, to send relief to the brothers living in Judea.” (Acts 11:27-30) Although the brothers affected by the famine lived some distance away, Christians in Antioch were determined to help them.—1 John 3:17, 18.
10. In what ways can we show compassion when fellow worshippers are affected by a disaster? (See also picture.)
10 We too can show compassion today when we learn that fellow worshippers have been affected by a disaster. We readily respond—perhaps by asking the elders if we can assist on a project, by donating to the worldwide work, or by praying for those affected by the disaster. b (Prov. 17:17) For example, in 2020, over 950 Disaster Relief Committees were appointed worldwide to care for those affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Those who serve with relief committees deserve our warm commendation. Motivated by compassion for their brothers and sisters, they have distributed material relief, provided spiritual care and, in some cases, repaired or rebuilt homes and places of worship.—Compare 2 Corinthians 8:1-4.
11. How do acts of compassion honor our heavenly Father?
11 When we show compassion after a disaster, others notice the sacrifices that we make. For instance, in 2019, Hurricane Dorian destroyed a Kingdom Hall in the Bahamas. While our brothers were rebuilding the hall, they asked a non-Witness contractor to provide a quote for some needed work. He told them: “I’d like to donate . . . the equipment, the labor and the materials. . . . I just want to do this for your organization. I’m moved by how [you] feel about your friends.” Most people in the world do not know Jehovah. But many of them do observe Jehovah’s Witnesses. What a privilege to know that our acts of compassion can draw people to the One who is “rich in mercy”!—Eph. 2:4.
12. How does cultivating compassion today prepare us for the great tribulation? (Revelation 13:16, 17)
12 Why will we need to show compassion during the great tribulation? The Bible indicates that those who will not give their allegiance to the political system will face challenges—both now and during the great tribulation. (Read Revelation 13:16, 17.) Our brothers and sisters may need help to meet their basic needs. When our King, Christ Jesus, comes to execute judgment, may he find us showing compassion and invite us to “inherit the Kingdom.”—Matt. 25:34-40.
STRENGTHEN YOUR LOVE
13. As indicated at Romans 15:7, how did the early Christians strengthen their bonds of love?
13 Love was the identifying mark of the early Christians. But did they find it easy to show love? Consider the diversity of the congregation in Rome. Among them were not only Jews, who were raised to obey the Mosaic Law, but also Gentiles, whose background was totally different. Some Christians were likely slaves while others were freemen—perhaps some were even slave owners. How could those Christians overcome such differences and strengthen their love? The apostle Paul urged them to “welcome one another.” (Read Romans 15:7.) What did he mean? The word translated “welcome” means to receive someone kindly or hospitably, such as into one’s home or circle of friends. For example, Paul told Philemon how to welcome the runaway slave Onesimus: “Receive him kindly.” (Philem. 17) And Priscilla and Aquila welcomed Apollos, who knew less about Christianity than they did, by taking “him into their company.” (Acts 18:26) Rather than allow their diversity to divide them, those Christians overcame their differences and welcomed one another.
14. How did Anna and her husband demonstrate love?
14 We too can show love to our brothers and sisters by welcoming them into our circle of friends. They, in turn, will often respond by showing love to us. (2 Cor. 6:11-13) Consider the experience of Anna and her husband. Shortly after they moved to a new missionary assignment in West Africa, the COVID-19 pandemic struck. As new arrivals, they could not meet in person with their congregation. How could the couple show their love? They used videoconferencing to get in touch with the brothers and sisters there and tell them how much they wanted to get to know them better. The families were touched and responded with frequent calls and messages. Why did the couple reach out? Anna says, “The acts of love shown to me and my family in good times and in bad times are embedded in my heart and mind and have motivated me to show love.”
15. What do you learn from Vanessa’s example about loving all our brothers and sisters? (See also picture.)
15 Many of us belong to congregations made up of brothers and sisters who are from different backgrounds and who have a variety of personalities. We can strengthen our love for all of them by focusing on their good qualities. A sister named Vanessa, who serves in New Zealand, used to find it difficult to get along with some in her congregation. But then she decided that instead of pulling away from those whose personalities irritated her, she would spend more time with them. Doing so helped her to see what Jehovah loves about them. She says: “Since my husband became a circuit overseer, we are in the company of many more brothers and sisters who have different personalities, and I find it easier to get along with them. I now love the variety. Jehovah obviously loves it too because he has drawn us into such a diverse group.” When we learn to see others as Jehovah sees them, we prove that we love them.—2 Cor. 8:24.
16. Why will love be essential during the great tribulation? (See also picture.)
16 Love will be vital during the great tribulation. When that tribulation begins, where will we find protection? Consider what Jehovah instructed his people to do when ancient Babylon was attacked: “Go, my people, enter your inner rooms, and shut your doors behind you. Hide yourself for a brief moment until the wrath has passed by.” (Isa. 26:20) It seems that those words also apply to us who will face the great tribulation. The “inner rooms” may refer to our congregations. During the great tribulation, we will find the protection that Jehovah promises as we remain united with fellow believers. Therefore, we must work hard now not just to tolerate our brothers and sisters but also to love them. Our survival may depend on it!
17. If we prepare now, what will we be able to do during the great tribulation?
17 “The great day of Jehovah” will bring distress on humankind. (Zeph. 1:14, 15) Jehovah’s people will face hardships too. But if we prepare now, we will be able to stay calm and help others. We will endure any challenges that come our way. When our fellow believers suffer, we will do our best to give them relief by showing compassion and providing for their needs. And we will stick close to our brothers and sisters, whom we have already grown to love. Jehovah will then reward us with eternal life in a world where all disasters and tribulations will be forgotten.—Isa. 65:17.
SONG 144 Keep Your Eyes on the Prize!
a The great tribulation will soon begin. The qualities of endurance, compassion, and love will help us to be ready for the unprecedented events that will then occur. Note how the early Christians developed those qualities, how we can do the same today, and how those qualities will prepare us for the great tribulation.
b Those who want to assist with a disaster relief project should first complete a Local Design/Construction Volunteer Application (DC-50) or an Application for Volunteer Program (A-19) and then wait to be invited to assist with the project.