Where Can We Find Answers to Life’s Big Questions?

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Where Can We Find Answers to Life’s Big Questions?

Are the answers in . . .

  • science?

  • philosophy?

  • the Bible?

 A BIBLE WRITER SAID TO GOD

“Give me understanding . . . Your word is truth.”—Psalm 119:144, 160New World Translation.

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The Bible is providing answers for millions of people.

Would you like to be one of them?

The jw.org Web site can help you.

 

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WHICH OF THESE BIG QUESTIONS CONCERNS YOU MOST?

Find the Bible’s answers to these questions at jw.org.

(Go to BIBLE TEACHINGS › BIBLE QUESTIONS ANSWERED)

LEARN MORE

What Can Be Found on Our Web Site?

 

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This article is taken from http://www.jw.org/en/publications/books/jworg-tract/the-big-questions/

Would you welcome more information? Please leave your message at the comment box below. Or would you welcome a visit and free home Bible study? Click Here to Request a FREE Bible Study

Why Study the Bible?

The Bible is providing answers to life’s big questions for millions of people around the world. Would you like to be one of them?

Why Study the Bible? Watch the video below:

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Click here to watch the video

What Is a Bible Study?

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Jehovah’s Witnesses offer a Bible study program that answers many questions, including:

  • Who is God?

  • Does God really care about me?

  • How can I improve my marriage?

  • How can I find happiness in life?

Below you will find answers to frequently asked questions about our Bible study program.

What is the format of the study course? We take such topics as “God” or “marriage” and examine different Bible verses that relate to the subject. By comparing them, we see what the Bible as a whole says about the topic, and in this way we let the Bible interpret itself.

To assist us in studying the Bible, we use the book What Does the Bible Really Teach? This book clearly presents, among other subjects, what the Bible really says about God, Jesus, and our future.

How much does a Bible study cost? The study is free, and there is no charge for the study material.

How long are the study sessions? Many people set aside an hour or so each week to study the Bible with us. But the length of the study is flexible. We’ll adapt it to your schedule.

What happens when I request a Bible study? When you request a Bible study, one of Jehovah’s Witnesses will visit you at a time and place convenient for you. He or she will take a few minutes to demonstrate our study program. If you like it, you can continue.

If I accept a Bible study, do I have to become one of Jehovah’s Witnesses? No. Jehovah’s Witnesses love teaching people about the Bible, but we never force anyone to become a member of our religion. Rather, we respectfully present what the Bible says, recognizing that each person has the right to choose what he or she will believe.—1 Peter 3:15.

Explore our site, http://jw.org. Learn more about us and our beliefs.

Read the Bible online. 

Would you welcome more information? Please leave your message at the comment box below. Or would you welcome a visit and free home Bible study? Click Here to Request a FREE Bible Study

Should You Pray?

If God already knows what we need, do we really need to pray? The Bible answers this question.

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Why Do People Pray?

Is prayer part of your life? It is for many people, even some atheists. But why do people pray? According to a poll in France, half of French citizens pray or meditate at times “simply to feel better.” Like many Europeans, they do not pray in a religious sense. Rather, they seek “the soothing effects of prayer.” On the other hand, some believers turn to God only when they are in need, expecting immediate answers to their requests.—Isaiah 26:16.

What about you personally? Do you think that prayer is just a way to sort out your thoughts? If you believe in God, do you see the effects of prayer in your life? Or does it seem to you that your prayers go unanswered? The Bible can help you to view prayer, not as a feel-good therapy, but as a precious means to draw close to God.

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‘If God knows everything, including my thoughts and needs, why should I pray?’ you might ask. That is a valid question. Did not Jesus say that God “knows what you need even before you ask him”? (Matthew 6:8) King David of ancient Israel realized this, and he wrote: “There is not a word on my tongue, but look! O Jehovah, you already know it well.” (Psalm 139:4) Why, then, should we turn to God in prayer? To answer that, let us consider what the Bible says about the prayers of God’s worshippers. *

“Draw close to God, and he will draw close to you.”James 4:8

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PRAYER DRAWS US CLOSE TO GOD

Although the Bible says that Jehovah * God knows everything, it also shows that he is not interested in merely collecting facts about his worshippers. (Psalm 139:6; Romans 11:33) His limitless memory is not like that of a computer that impersonally stores data about individuals. In fact, God is keenly interested in our innermost thoughts because he wants us to draw closer to him. (Psalm 139:23, 24; James 4:8) That is why Jesus encouraged his followers to pray, even though his Father well knows our basic needs. (Matthew 6:6-8) The more we share our thoughts with our Creator, the more we will draw close to him.

At times, we may find it difficult to know precisely what to ask for in prayer. In such cases, God can even look beyond our unexpressed feelings and use his perfect knowledge of our circumstances to respond to our needs. (Romans 8:26, 27; Ephesians 3:20) When we realize that God has intervened in our personal life, even in very subtle ways, we feel drawn to him.

DOES GOD ANSWER ALL PRAYERS?

The Bible assures us that Almighty God answers the prayers of his faithful servants, but it also gives reasons why he does not listen to some prayers. For example, at a time when violence was rampant in ancient Israel, God directed his prophet Isaiah to tell the people: “Although you offer many prayers, I am not listening; your hands are filled with blood.” (Isaiah 1:15) Clearly, those who show contempt for God’s laws or pray with improper motives cannot expect to be heard by God.—Proverbs 28:9; James 4:3.

On the other hand, the Bible states: “No matter what we ask according to his will, he hears us.” (1 John 5:14) Does that mean, though, that God will automatically grant his worshippers every request? Not necessarily. Consider the case of the apostle Paul, who begged God three times to remove “a thorn in the flesh.” (2 Corinthians 12:7, 8) It may be that Paul suffered from a chronic eye affliction. How frustrating that must have been for him! Paul had been given the gift of healing and had even performed a resurrection, yet he had to endure his own illness. (Acts 19:11, 12; 20:9, 10) Even though the answer to his petitions did not take the form he wanted, Paul accepted God’s response with gratitude.—2 Corinthians 12:9, 10.

“This is the confidence that we have toward him, that no matter what we ask according to his will, he hears us.”1 John 5:14

True, some Bible characters did receive miraculous answers to their prayers. (2 Kings 20:1-7) But such answers were hardly the norm, even in Bible times. Some believers were disturbed when it seemed that God had not responded to their prayers. King David asked: “How long, O Jehovah, will you forget me? Forever?” (Psalm 13:1) But when that faithful man realized how often Jehovah had come to his rescue, David reaffirmed his trust in God. In the same prayer, David added: “As for me, I trust in your loyal love.” (Psalm 13:5) Just like David, God’s worshippers today may have to persevere in prayer until they perceive God’s response to their petitions.—Romans 12:12.

HOW GOD ANSWERS PRAYERS

God responds to our genuine needs.

For good reason, caring parents do not always give their children whatthey ask for when they ask for it. In like manner, God may not respond to our requests in the way we think he should or at the moment we expect. But we can be confident that our Creator, like a loving father, will respond to our genuine needs at the right time and in the right way.—Luke 11:11-13.

God may answer in subtle ways.

God’s answer to a plea for help may come through the pages of the Bible

God’s answer to a plea for help may come through the pages of the Bible

What, though, if we pray to find relief from an ongoing problem? Should we conclude that because there is no miraculous answer, Jehovah has not answered at all? On the contrary, we would do well to consider whether God has supported us in more subtle ways. For example, perhaps a caring friend did what he could to help us at just the right time. (Proverbs 17:17) Is it possible that Jehovah moved that concerned friend to reach out to us? In addition, God’s answer to a plea for help may come through the pages of the Bible. In it we may find the insight needed to cope with a challenging situation.—2 Timothy 3:16, 17.

God may use caring friends to help us at just the right time

God may use caring friends to help us at just the right time

Instead of removing a personal problem, God often gives his people the strength needed to cope with it. (2 Corinthians 4:7) For example, when Jesus begged his Father to remove an ordeal, fearing that it would bring reproach on God’s name, Jehovah dispatched an angel to strengthen his Son. (Luke 22:42, 43) Similarly, God may use a close friend to give us a word of encouragement when we need it most. (Proverbs 12:25) Because this kind of answer is subtle, we may have to be more alert to the way God responds to our prayers.

Some answers must await God’s timetable.

The Bible says that Almighty God shows favor to humble individuals “in due time.” (1 Peter 5:6) So if there seems to be a delay in his answering our sincere requests, we need not see this as a lack of interest on Jehovah’s part. Rather, with his vastly superior perspective, our caring Creator no doubt evaluates our petitions in the light of what he knows is best for us.

“Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God, so that he may exalt you in due time.”1 Peter 5:6

To illustrate: Imagine that you have a young son who asks you for a bicycle. Will you automatically grant his request? If you feel that he is not yet responsible enough to ride a bicycle, you might decide to postpone the purchase. In time, however, you may grant his request when you know that doing so would be in his best interests. In like manner, God may grant the proper “desires of [our] heart” in due time if we keep praying.—Psalm 37:4.

BE CONFIDENT THAT JEHOVAH LISTENS

The Bible urges true Christians not to lose confidence in the value of prayer. ‘That is easier said than done,’ some might say. True, if we have been enduring a nagging problem or some sort of injustice, we may find it hard to wait for God’s answer. We do well, though, to remember what Jesus taught about persistence in prayer.

Jesus gave the illustration of a needy widow who kept going to an unfair judge to obtain justice.  (Luke 18:1-3) Although the judge at first refused to help her, he finally said to himself: “I will see that she gets justice so that she will not keep coming and wearing me out with her demand.” (Luke 18:4, 5) According to the text in the original language, the judge paid attention to the widow so that she would not “strike [him] under the eye,” or figuratively, “damage [his] reputation.” * If even an unjust judge, out of fear for his reputation, will help a poor widow, how much more so will our caring God grant justice to those “who cry out to him day and night”! As Jesus said, God “will cause justice to be done to them speedily.”—Luke 18:6-8.

“Keep on asking, and it will be given you.”Luke 11:9

Though we may at times get weary of asking for help or favor, we should not give up. By persevering in prayer, we show the genuineness of our desire to see God’s hand in our life. We also learn to recognize God’s answers to our petitions and, as a result, draw closer to him. Yes, we can be confident that Jehovah will answer our proper prayers if we keep asking in faith.—Luke 11:9.

Article taken from Watchtower April 2014

More articles can be read at www.jw.org

Would you welcome more information? Please leave your message at the comment box below. Or would you welcome a visit and free home Bible study? Click Here to Request a FREE Bible Study

Help From ‘the God of Comfort’

KING DAVID was a man who experienced much anguish and many “disquieting thoughts.” Yet, he never doubted that the Creator understands us in every way. “O Jehovah, you have searched through me, and you know me,” he wrote. “You yourself have come to know my sitting down and my rising up. You have considered my thought from far off. For there is not a word on my tongue, but, look! O Jehovah, you already know it all.”—Psalm 139:1, 2, 4, 23.

We too can be certain that our Creator understands us and the debilitating effect that depression can have on our imperfect minds and bodies. He knows what causes depression and how we can best cope under present circumstances. Furthermore, he has revealed how he will cure depression forever. We could wish for no one better to help us than our compassionate “God, Who comforts and encourages and refreshes and cheers the depressed.”—2 Corinthians 7:6, The Amplified Bible.

But depressed ones may wonder how God can help them when they experience distressing emotions.

Is God accessible to the depressed?

God is so close to his depressed servants that it is as if he resided with the “crushed and lowly in spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly ones and to revive the heart of the ones being crushed.” (Isaiah 57:15) How comforting to know that “Jehovah is near to those that are broken at heart; and those who are crushed in spirit he saves”!—Psalm 34:18.

How can the depressed get comfort from God?

At any time of the day, God’s worshipers have approach to the “Hearer of prayer,” who can help us to cope with distressing feelings and circumstances. (Psalm 65:2) The Bible urges us to pour out our hearts to him: “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.”—Philippians 4:6, 7.

What if feelings of unworthiness make us think that our prayers are not being heard?

Depression may cause us to conclude that our attempts to please God are not adequate. However, our heavenly Father is sensitive to our fragile emotions, “remembering that we are dust.” (Psalm 103:14) Even if “our hearts may condemn us,” we can “persuade our hearts” that “God is greater than our hearts and knows all things.” (1 John 3:19, 20, footnote) Therefore, you can use expressions in your prayers that you glean from such Bible passages as Psalm 9:9, 10; 10:12, 14, 17; and 25:17.

What if we are too distraught to put our feelings into words?

 When painful emotions are so overwhelming that rational speech is difficult, do not give up! Keep approaching “the Father of tender mercies and the God of all comfort,” knowing that he understands your feelings and needs. (2 Corinthians 1:3) Maria, mentioned earlier in this series, says: “At times, when I feel very confused, I do not know what to pray about. But I know that God understands and helps me.”

How does God answer our prayers?

The Bible does not suggest that God removes all our difficulties now. However, God does impart the strength to cope with “all  things”—including depression. (Philippians 4:13) “When I first suffered from depression,” admits Martina, “I prayed for Jehovah to heal me immediately because I thought I would not be able to bear it any longer. Now I am content to pray for strength each day.”

The Scriptures are a vital source of spiritual strength to help afflicted individuals to cope with depression. Sarah, who has battled depression for 35 years, personally experienced the practical value of daily Bible reading. She relates: “I truly appreciate what the medical profession has done for me. Above all, though, I realize the spiritual and practical value of reading God’s Word. I have made a habit of reading it.”

No More Depression—Ever!

When Jesus Christ was on earth, he demonstrated his God-given power to cure painful maladies. Jesus was eager to bring relief to people who suffered from grievous sicknesses. Moreover, he himself knows the agony of distraught emotions. On the night before he was to die a painful death, “Christ offered up supplications and also petitions to the One who was able to save him out of death, with strong outcries and tears.” (Hebrews 5:7) As distressing as that was to Jesus at the time, we benefit now because “he is able to come to the aid of those who are being put to the test.”—Hebrews 2:18; 1 John 2:1, 2.

The Bible reveals that God purposes to remove all the distressing conditions that contribute to depression. He promises: “I am creating new heavens and a new earth; and the former things will not be called to mind, neither will they come up into the heart. But exult, you people, and be joyful forever in what I am creating.” (Isaiah 65:17, 18) The “new heavens,” God’s Kingdom, will restore the “new earth,” a society of righteous people on earth, to perfect physical, emotional, and spiritual health. All sicknesses will be wiped out permanently.

“I have called out your name, O Jehovah, from a pit of the lowest sort. My voice you must hear. Do not hide your ear to my relief, to my cry for help. You have drawn near in the day that I kept calling you. You said: ‘Do not be afraid.’”—Lamentations 3:55-57

Consolation From the Scriptures

Lorraine is strengthened by Jehovah’s promise found at Isaiah 41:10: “Do not be afraid, for I am with you. Do not gaze about, for I am your God. I will fortify you. I will really help you. I will really keep fast hold of you with my right hand of righteousness.”

Álvaro says that the words of Psalm 34:4, 6 often console him: “I inquired of Jehovah, and he answered me, and out of all my frights he delivered me. This afflicted one called, and Jehovah himself heard. And out of all his distresses He saved him.”

Naoya says that reading Psalm 40:1, 2 always comforts him: “I earnestly hoped in Jehovah, and so he inclined his ear to me and heard my cry for help. . . . He firmly established my steps.”

Psalm 147:3 reassures Naoko that Jehovah “is healing the brokenhearted ones, and is binding up their painful spots.”

Jesus’ words recorded at Luke 12:6, 7 help Eliz trust in Jehovah’s care: “Five sparrows sell for two coins of small value, do they not? Yet not one of them goes forgotten before God. But even the hairs of your heads are all numbered. Have no fear; you are worth more than many sparrows.”

Other Bible verses:

  • Psalm 39:12: “Do hear my prayer, O Jehovah, and to my cry for help do give ear. At my tears do not keep silent.”
  • 2 Corinthians 7:6: God “comforts the depressed.”“New American Standard Bible.”
  • 1 Peter 5:7: “Throw all your anxiety upon [God], because he cares for you.”

Article taken from Awake 2009-07

More articles can be read at www.jw.org

Would you welcome more information? Please leave your message at the comment box below. Or would you welcome a visit and free home Bible study? Please send your request to Jehovah’s Witnesses, using one of the addresses below. For a complete list of addresses, see http://www.jw.org/en/jehovahs-witnesses/offices/

America, United States of: 25 Columbia Heights Brooklyn, NY 11201-2483

Australia: PO Box 280, Ingleburn, NSW 1890

Britain: The Ridgeway, London NW7 1RN

Canada: PO Box 4100, Georgetown, ON L7G 4Y4

Germany: 65617 Setlers

Guam: 143 Jehovah St., Barrigada, GU 96913

Jamaica: PO Box 103, Old Harbour, St. Catherine

Japan: 4-7-1 Nakashinden, Ebina City, Kanagawa-Pref, 243-0496

Philippines: PO Box 2044, 1060 Manila

Puerto Rico: PO Box 3980, Guaynabo, PR 00970

South Africa: Private Bag X2067, Krugersdorp, 1740

Trinidad and Tobago: Lower Rapsey Street & Laxmi Lane, Curepe

What if I’m Being Bullied?

Bullying is no trivial matter. A British study found that more than 40 percent of the youth suicides reported in the national media appeared to involve bullying as a contributing factor.

What is bullying?

Bullying includes more than physical assaults. It can also involve the following.

  • Verbal attacks. Girls can be brutal with their words,” says 20-year-old Celine. “I’ll never forget the names they called me or the things they said. They made me feel worthless, unwanted, and good-for-nothing. I’d rather have been given a black eye.

  •  Social isolation. My schoolmates started to avoid me,” says 18-year-old Haley. “They would make it seem that there was no room at the lunch table so I couldn’t sit with them. For the whole year, I cried and ate alone.

  •  Cyberbullying. With just a few keystrokes on a computer,” says 14-year-old Daniel, “you can ruin someone’s reputation—or even his life. It sounds like an overstatement, but it can happen!” Cyberbullying also includes sending harmful photos or text messages using a cell phone.

 Why do people bully others?

These are some common reasons.

  •  They themselves have been bullied. I was so sick and tired of being mistreated by my peers that I began to bully others just to fit in,” admits a young man named Antonio. “Later I looked back and realized how wrong it was to do that!

  •  They have poor role models. Many times young bullies treat other people . . . the way they see their parents, older brothers and sisters, or other family members treat others,” writes Jay McGraw in his book Life Strategies for Dealing With Bullies.

  •  They act as if they are superior—and yet they’re insecure. Kids who bully have an air of superiority that is often a mask to cover up deep hurt and a feeling of inadequacy,” notes Barbara Coloroso in her book The Bully, the Bullied, and the Bystander.

 Who is most likely to be a target?

  • Loners. Some young people who lack social skills isolate themselves from others and become easy marks for bullies.

  • Youths who are perceived as being different. Some youths are targeted by bullies because of their appearance, race, or religion or even because they have a disability—anything the bully can pick on.

  • Youths who lack self-confidence. Bullies can detect those who think negatively of themselves. These are often the easiest targets, since they’re not likely to fight back.

 What can you do if you’re bullied?

  • Don’t react. Bullies want to know that they’ve succeeded in making you feel bad about yourself,” says a young woman named Kylie. “If you don’t react, they lose interest.” The Bible says: “He that is wise keeps it calm to the last.”—Proverbs 29:11.

  •  Don’t retaliate. Revenge will add to the problem, not solve it. The Bible says: “Return evil for evil to no one.”—Romans 12:17; Proverbs 24:19.

  • Don’t walk into trouble. To the extent possible, avoid people and situations where bullying may occur.—Proverbs 22:3.

  • Try an unexpected response. The Bible says: “An answer, when mild, turns away rage.”—Proverbs 15:1.

  • Use humor. For example, if a bully asserts that you’re overweight, you could simply shrug your shoulders and say, “I guess I could lose a few pounds!

  • Walk away. Silence shows that you are mature and that you are stronger than the person harassing you,” says 19-year-old Nora. “It demonstrates self-control—something the bully doesn’t have.

  •  Work on your self-confidence. Bullies notice when you aren’t relaxed,” says a girl named Rita, “and they might use that to destroy whatever self-confidence you have.

  •  Tell someone. According to one survey, more than half of all victims who are bullied online don’t report what’s going on, possibly because of shame (especially for boys) or fear of retaliation. But remember, bullies thrive on secrecy. Speaking up can be the first step to ending the nightmare.

Tips from your peers

“Avoid places or situations that will make you an easy target for a bully. Remember, too, that bullies are going through their own issues. When you know that, it takes some of the sting out of their words.”—Antonio.

“Be confident in yourself. Don’t be afraid to stand up for what you believe. Many bullies back off when they see that you aren’t giving them any power over you and that you aren’t afraid.”—Jessica.

SHOULD YOU FEAR THE END OF THE WORLD?

The End of the World—Fear, Fascination, and Frustration

How do you feel about December 21, 2012, the date on the Mayan calendar that many have been saying would bring worldwide change? Depending on what you expected, you might be relieved, disappointed, or indifferent. Was it just another incorrect prediction for the end of the world?

What about “the end of the world” described in the Bible? (Matthew 24:3, King James Version) Some fear that the earth will be burned up. Others are fascinated by end-time scenarios. Many have simply grown tired of being told that the end is near. But could those be reactions to fiction rather than to fact?

You might be surprised to learn what the Bible really says about the end of the world. Not only does the Bible give reasons to look forward to the end but it also acknowledges the frustration that can set in if the end seems to be overdue. We invite you to consider the Bible’s answers to some common questions about the end of the world.

Will the earth be burned up?

THE BIBLE’S ANSWER: “[God] has founded the earth upon its established places; it will not be made to totter to time indefinite, or forever.”—PSALM 104:5.

The earth will not be destroyed, either by fire or by any other means. Instead, the Bible teaches that this planet is mankind’s eternal home. Psalm 37:29 says: “The righteous themselves will possess the earth, and they will reside forever upon it.”—Psalm 115:16; Isaiah 45:18.

After God created the earth, he said that it “was very good,” and he still feels that way. (Genesis 1:31) Far from planning to destroy it, he promises to “bring to ruin those ruining the earth”—and to protect it from permanent damage.—Revelation 11:18.

You may wonder, though, about 2 Peter 3:7. That Bible verse says: “The heavens and the earth that are now are stored up for fire.” Does this not show that the earth will be burned up? Actually, the Bible sometimes uses the terms “heavens,” “earth,” and “fire” figuratively, as symbols. For example, when Genesis 11:1 says: “All the earth continued to be of one language,” it uses “earth” to mean human society.

The context of 2 Peter 3:7 shows that the heavens, earth, and fire mentioned there are also symbols. Verses 5 and 6 draw a parallel with the Flood of Noah’s day. On that occasion, an ancient world was destroyed, yet our planet did not disappear. Instead, the Flood wiped out a violent society, or “earth.” It also destroyed a kind of “heavens”—the people who ruled over that earthly society. (Genesis 6:11) In the same way, 2 Peter 3:7 foretells the permanent destruction of wicked society and its corrupt governments as if by fire.

What happens at the end of the world?

THE BIBLE’S ANSWER: “The world is passing away and so is its desire, but he that does the will of God remains forever.”—1 JOHN 2:17.

“The world” that is to pass away is, not the earth, but the world of mankind whose lives are not in harmony with God’s will. Just as a surgeon might remove a cancerous tumor to save a patient’s life, God will “cut off” the wicked so that good people can truly enjoy life on earth. (Psalm 37:9) In that sense, “the end of the world” is a good thing.

Such a positive view of “the end of the world” is implied by the Bible translations that render this expression “the conclusion of the system of things” or “the end of the age.” (Matthew 24:3; New International Version) Since both humankind and the earth survive the end, does it not seem reasonable that a new age, a new system of things, would follow? The Bible answers yes, for it speaks of “the coming system of things.”—Luke 18:30.

Jesus called that future period “the renewal of all things.” At that time, he will restore humanity to the conditions that God originally intended. (Matthew 19:28, NIV) We will then enjoy

  • A paradise earth with security and prosperity for all.—Isaiah 35:1; Micah 4:4.
  • Work that is meaningful and satisfying.—Isaiah 65:21-23.
  • The curing of all disease.—Isaiah 33:24.
  • The reversal of aging.—Job 33:25.
  • The resurrection of the dead.—John 5:28, 29.
  • If we do “the will of God,” what he asks of us, we need not fear the end of the world. Instead, we can look forward to it.

Is the end of the world really near?

THE BIBLE’S ANSWER: “When you see these things occurring, know that the kingdom of God is near.”—LUKE 21:31.

In the book The Last Days Are Here Again, Professor Richard Kyle writes that “sudden change and social chaos create an atmosphere conducive to predictions of the end of the world.” That is especially the case when the change and chaos seem hard to explain.

However, the Bible prophets who spoke about the end were not trying to explain baffling events of their day. Instead, they were inspired by God to describe conditions that would indicate an imminent end of the world. Consider some of those prophecies and decide for yourself whether they are being fulfilled in our time.

As Jesus said, seeing “all these things” lets us know that the end of the world is near. (Matthew 24:33) Jehovah’s Witnesses believe that the evidence is convincing, and they share their faith with others by preaching in 236 lands.

Do mistaken expectations about the end mean that it will never come?
THE BIBLE’S ANSWER: “Whenever it is that they are saying: ‘Peace and security!’ then sudden destruction is to be instantly upon them just as the pang of distress upon a pregnant woman; and they will by no means escape.”—1 THESSALONIANS 5:3.

The Bible likens the world’s destruction to the onset of labor—the mother’s pain is inevitable and comes suddenly. The time leading up to the end is also like a pregnancy, for an expectant mother is aware of ever-increasing signs of the coming birth. Her doctor might estimate the birth date; yet, even if the event should delay, she would still be sure that her baby will soon be born. Similarly, any mistaken expectations about the end do not alter the unmistakable features identifying these as “the last days.”—2 Timothy 3:1.

‘If the sign that we are near the end is so obvious,’ you might ask, ‘why do so many people fail to recognize it?’ The Bible shows that when the end is near, many will belittle the evidence. Rather than acknowledge the fundamental changes during the last days, they would scoff: “From the day our forefathers fell asleep in death, all things are continuing exactly as from creation’s beginning.” (2 Peter 3:3, 4) In other words, the sign of the last days is clear, but many will ignore it.—Matthew 24:38, 39.

This article has considered just some of the Scriptural evidence that the end is near. * Would you like to learn more? If so, why not contact Jehovah’s Witnesses to accept their offer of a free Bible study? Study sessions can be held in your home, at another place convenient to you, or even over the phone or Internet. The only cost is your time, and the potential benefits are priceless.

HAVE JEHOVAH’S WITNESSES GIVEN INCORRECT DATES FOR THE END?

Jehovah’s Witnesses have had wrong expectations about when the end would come. Like Jesus’ first-century disciples, we have sometimes looked forward to the fulfillment of prophecy ahead of God’s timetable. (Luke 19:11; Acts 1:6; 2 Thessalonians 2:1, 2) We agree with the sentiment of longtime Witness A. H. Macmillan, who said: “I learned that we should admit our mistakes and continue searching God’s Word for more enlightenment.”

Why, then, do we continue to highlight the nearness of the end? Because we take seriously Jesus’ words: “Keep looking, keep awake.” The alternative, to be found “sleeping” by Jesus, would prevent us from gaining his favor. (Mark 13:33, 36) Why?

Consider this example: A lookout in a fire tower might see what he thinks is a wisp of smoke on the horizon and sound what proves to be a false alarm. Later, though, his alertness could save lives.

Likewise, we have had some wrong expectations about the end. But we are more concerned with obeying Jesus and saving lives than with avoiding criticism. Jesus’ command to “give a thorough witness” compels us to warn others about the end.—Acts 10:42.

We believe that even more important than focusing on when the end will come, we must be confident that it will come, and we must act accordingly. We take seriously the words of Habakkuk 2:3, which says: “Even if [the end] should delay [compared to what you thought], keep in expectation of it; for it will without fail come true. It will not be late.”

Article taken from The Watchtower January 2013

More articles can be read at www.jw.org

Would you welcome more information? Please leave your message at the comment box below. Or would you welcome a visit and free home Bible study? Please send your request to Jehovah’s Witnesses, using one of the addresses below. For a complete list of addresses, see http://www.jw.org/en/jehovahs-witnesses/offices/

America, United States of: 25 Columbia Heights Brooklyn, NY 11201-2483

Australia: PO Box 280, Ingleburn, NSW 1890

Britain: The Ridgeway, London NW7 1RN

Canada: PO Box 4100, Georgetown, ON L7G 4Y4

Germany: 65617 Setlers

Guam: 143 Jehovah St., Barrigada, GU 96913

Jamaica: PO Box 103, Old Harbour, St. Catherine

Japan: 4-7-1 Nakashinden, Ebina City, Kanagawa-Pref, 243-0496

Philippines: PO Box 2044, 1060 Manila

Puerto Rico: PO Box 3980, Guaynabo, PR 00970

South Africa: Private Bag X2067, Krugersdorp, 1740

Trinidad and Tobago: Lower Rapsey Street & Laxmi Lane, Curepe

Why Does God Allow Us to Suffer?

Why?

‘GOD, Why Did
You Allow This?’

RICARDO still remembers sitting with his wife, Maria, in the doctor’s waiting room. * Neither of them had the courage to read the results of Maria’s latest medical examinations. Then, Ricardo opened the envelope, and they hastily glanced over the medical language of the report. They spotted the word “cancer,” and both began to cry as they realized the full import of that word.

“The doctor was very kind,” recalls Ricardo, “but he obviously realized the gravity of the situation because he kept telling us that we had to trust in God.”

The doctor kept telling us that we had to
trust in God

Wife and husband

Before radiation treatment had begun, Maria’s doctor noticed involuntary movements in her right foot. Further tests revealed that the cancer had spread to her brain. After just one week of treatment, the radiation was suspended. Maria slipped into a coma and died two months later. “I was glad that her suffering had ended,” explains Ricardo, “but I missed her so much that I found myself wishing that my life would come to an end too. Often, I would cry out to God: ‘Why did you allow this to happen?'”

When Tragedy Strikes, Questions Abound

Like Ricardo, countless people throughout the world are forced to face up to the reality of suffering. Many times, it is the innocent who suffer. Think of the heartrending grief caused by the relentless armed conflicts that plague mankind. Or consider the pain felt by the numerous victims of rape, child abuse, domestic violence, and other evils committed by man. Throughout history there seems to have been no limit to the injustice and pain that men and women have been willing to inflict on one another. (Ecclesiastes 4:1-3) Then there is the anguish of victims of natural disasters or of emotional, mental, and physical illnesses. It is little wonder that many ask, “Why does God allow such suffering?”

Even for those with religious convictions, suffering is never easy to deal with. You too may wonder what reason a loving, all-powerful God could possibly have for permitting human suffering. Finding a satisfying and truthful answer to this puzzling question is vital for our peace of mind and our relationship with God. The Bible provides such an answer. Please consider what it has to say as presented in thefollowing article.

*  Names have been changed.

OVER the centuries, the question of why God allows suffering has challenged many philosophers and theologians. Some have asserted that since God is all-powerful, he must ultimately be responsible for suffering. The writer of The Clementine Homilies, an apocryphal second-century work, claimed that God rules the world with both hands. With his “left hand,” the Devil, he causes suffering and affliction, and with his “right hand,” Jesus, he saves and blesses.

Others, unable to accept that God could permit suffering even if he does not cause it, have chosen to deny that suffering exists. “Evil is but an illusion, and it has no real basis,” wrote Mary Baker Eddy. “If sin, sickness, and death were understood as nothingness, they would disappear.”—Science and Health With Key to the Scriptures.

In the wake of the tragic events of history, especially from the first world war until our day, many have reached the conclusion that God is simply unable to prevent suffering. “The Holocaust has, I think, dismissed any easy use of omnipotence as an attribute appropriate to God,” wrote Jewish scholar David Wolf Silverman. “If God is to be intelligible in some manner,” he added, “then His goodness must be compatible with the existence of evil, and this is only if He is not all-powerful.”

However, claims that God is somehow an accomplice to suffering, that he is unable to prevent it, or that suffering is a mere figment of our imagination offer scant comfort to those who suffer. And more important, such beliefs are utterly at odds with the just, dynamic, and caring God who is revealed in the pages of the Bible. (Job 34:1012;Jeremiah 32:171 John 4:8) What, then, does the Bible say about the reason why suffering has been permitted?

How Did Suffering Begin?

God did not create humans to suffer. On the contrary, he endowed the first human couple, Adam and Eve, with perfect minds and bodies, prepared a delightful garden to serve as their home, and assigned them meaningful, satisfying work. (Genesis 1:27, 28312:8) However, their continued happiness depended on their recognizing God’s rulership and his right to decide what was good and what was bad. That divine prerogative was represented by a tree called “the tree of the knowledge of good and bad.” (Genesis 2:17) Adam and Eve would demonstrate their subjection to God if they obeyed his command not to eat from that tree. *

Tragically, Adam and Eve failed to obey God. A rebellious spirit creature, later identified as Satan the Devil, convinced Eve that it was not in her best interests to obey God. In fact, God was supposedly depriving her of something highly desirable: independence, the right to choose for herself what was good and what was bad. Satan claimed that if she ate of the tree, ‘her eyes were bound to be opened and she was bound to be like God, knowing good and bad.’ (Genesis 3:1-6Revelation 12:9) Seduced by the prospect of independence, Eve partook of the forbidden fruit, and Adam soon did the same.

Adam and Eve rejected divine rulershipAdam and Eve

That same day, Adam and Eve began to experience the results of their rebellion. By rejecting divine rulership, they lost out on the protection and blessings that subjection to God had afforded them. God evicted them from Paradise and told Adam: “Cursed is the ground on your account. In pain you will eat its produce all the days of your life. In the sweat of your face you will eat bread until you return to the ground.” (Genesis 3:1719) Adam and Eve became subject to sickness, pain, aging, and death. Suffering had become a part of human experience.—Genesis 5:29.

Settling the Issue

Someone may ask, ‘Could God not have simply overlooked Adam and Eve’s sin?’ No, because that would have further undermined respect for his authority, perhaps encouraging future rebellions and resulting in even greater suffering. (Ecclesiastes 8:11) In addition, condoning such disobedience would have made God a party to wrongdoing. The Bible writer Moses reminds us: “God’s works are perfect, for all his ways are justice. A God of faithfulness, with whom there is no injustice; righteous and upright is he.” (Deuteronomy 32:4, footnote) To be true to himself, God had to allow Adam and Eve to suffer the consequences of their disobedience.

Why did God not immediately destroy the first human couple along with Satan, the invisible instigator of their rebellion? He had the power to do so. Adam and Eve would not have produced offspring subject to a legacy of suffering and death. However, such a demonstration of divine powerwould not have proved the rightfulness of God’s authority over his intelligent creatures. Furthermore, had Adam and Eve died childless, that would have signaled the failure of God’s purpose to fill the earth with their perfect descendants. (Genesis 1:28) And “God is not like men . . . Whatever he promises, he does; he speaks, and it is done.”—Numbers 23:19Today’s English Version.

In his perfect wisdom, Jehovah God decided to allow the rebellion to proceed for a limited time. The rebels would have ample opportunity to experience the effects of independence from God. History would demonstrate beyond doubt mankind’s need for divine guidance and the superiority of God’s rule over man’s or Satan’s. At the same time, God took steps to ensure that his original purpose for the earth would be fulfilled. He promised that a “seed,” or “offspring,” would come who would ‘bruise Satan in the head,’ eliminating once and for all his rebellion and its damaging effects.—Genesis 3:15, footnote.

Jesus Christ was that promised Seed. At 1 John 3:8, we read that “the Son of God was made manifest . . . to break up the works of the Devil.” This he did by laying down his perfect human life and paying the ransom price to redeem Adam’s children from inherited sin and death. (John 1:29;1 Timothy 2:5, 6) Those who truly exercise faith in Jesus’ sacrifice are promised permanent relief from suffering. (John 3:16Revelation 7:17) When will this happen?

An End to Suffering

The rejection of God’s authority has caused untold suffering. It is fitting, then, that God should use a special expression of his authority to end human suffering and accomplish his original purpose for the earth. Jesus mentioned this divine provision when he taught his followers to pray: “Our Father in the heavens, . . . let your kingdom come. Let your will take place, as in heaven, also upon earth.”—Matthew 6:9, 10.

The time that God has allowed for humans to experiment with self-government is about to end. In fulfillment of Bible prophecy, his Kingdom was established in the heavens in 1914 with Jesus Christ as its King. # Shortly, it will crush and put an end to all human governments.—Daniel 2:44.

During his brief earthly ministry, Jesus provided a foregleam of the blessings that the restoration of divine rule will bring to humanity. The Gospels provide evidence that Jesus showed compassion for members of human society who were poor and discriminated against. He healed the sick, fed the hungry, and resurrected the dead. Even the forces of nature obeyed his voice. (Matthew 11:5Mark 4:37-39Luke 9:11-16) Imagine what Jesus will accomplish when he uses the cleansing effect of his ransom sacrifice to benefit all obedient mankind! The Bible promises that by means of Christ’s rule, God “will wipe out every tear from [mankind's] eyes, and death will be no more, neither will mourning nor outcry nor pain be anymore.”—Revelation 21:4.

Comfort for Those Who Suffer

How heartening it is to know that our loving and all-powerful God, Jehovah, cares for us and that he will shortly bring relief to mankind! Usually, a seriously sick patient willingly accepts treatment that will cure him even if it is very painful. In the same way, if we know that God’s way of handling matters will bring eternal blessings, that knowledge can sustain us no matter what temporary difficulties we face.

Ricardo, mentioned in the preceding article, is one who has learned to draw comfort from the Bible’s promises. “After my wife’s death, I felt a strong desire to isolate myself,” he recalls, “but I soon realized that this would not bring my wife back and would only worsen my emotional state.” Instead, Ricardo stuck to his routine of attending Christian meetings and sharing the Bible’s message with others. “As I felt Jehovah’s loving support and noticed how he answered my prayers in seemingly small matters, I drew closer to him,” says Ricardo. “It was this awareness of God’s love that enabled me to endure what certainly was the worst trial I had ever faced.” He admits: “I still miss my wife very much, but I now firmly believe that nothing Jehovah allows to happen can cause us lasting harm.”

God promises
a world free
of suffering
A family in paradise

Do you, like Ricardo and millions of others, yearn for the time when mankind’s present sufferings “will not be called to mind, neither will they come up into the heart”? (Isaiah 65:17) Be assured that the blessings of God’s Kingdom are within your grasp if you follow the Bible’s advice: “Search for Jehovah . . . while he may be found. Call to him while he proves to be near.”—Isaiah 55:6.

To help you do this, make the reading and careful study of God’s Word a priority in your life. Get to know God and the one whom he sent forth, Jesus Christ. Strive to live in harmony with God’s standards and thus show that you are willing to submit to his sovereignty. Such a course will bring you greater happiness now despite the tests that you may have to face. And in the future, it will result in your enjoying life in a world free of suffering.—John 17:3.

*  In its footnote to Genesis 2:17The Jerusalem Bible explains “the knowledge of good and evil” as “the power of deciding . . . what is good and what is evil and of acting accordingly, a claim to complete moral independence by which man refuses to recognise his status as a created being.” It adds: “The first sin was an attack on God’s sovereignty.”

#  For a detailed discussion of Bible prophecy relating to 1914, see chapters 10 and 11 of the book Knowledge That Leads to Everlasting Life, published by Jehovah’s Witnesses.

HOW CAN WE COPE WITH SUFFERING?

“Throw all your anxiety upon [God].” (1 Peter 5:7) Feelings of confusion, anger, and abandonment are only natural when we endure suffering or see someone we love suffer. Still, be assured that Jehovah understands our feelings. (Exodus 3:7Isaiah 63:9) Like faithful men of old, we can open our heart to him and express our doubts and anxieties. (Exodus 5:22Job 10:1-3Jeremiah 14:19;Habakkuk 1:13) He may not miraculously remove our trials, but in response to our heartfelt prayers, he can grant us the wisdom and strength to deal with them.—James 1:5, 6.

“Do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you.” (1 Peter 4:12New International Version) Here Peter is speaking of persecution, but his words apply equally well to any suffering a believer may endure. Humans suffer privation, sickness, and loss. The Bible says that “time and unforeseen occurrence” befall everyone. (Ecclesiastes 9:11) Such things are part of the human condition at present. Realizing this will help us to deal with suffering and misfortune when it occurs. (1 Peter 5:9) Most of all, recalling the assurance that “the eyes of Jehovah are toward the righteous ones, and his ears are toward their cry for help” will especially be a source of comfort.—Psalm 34:15Proverbs 15:31 Peter 3:12.

“Rejoice in the hope.” (Romans 12:12) Instead of dwelling on lost happiness, we can meditate on God’s promise to end all suffering. (Ecclesiastes 7:10) This well-founded hope will protect us as a helmet protects the head. Hope cushions the blows in life and helps to ensure that they do not prove fatal to our mental, emotional, or spiritual health.—1 Thessalonians 5:8.

Appeared in The Watchtower  January 1, 2003

More articles can be read at www.jw.org

Would you welcome more information? Please leave your message at the comment box below. Or would you welcome a visit and free home Bible study? Please send your request to Jehovah’s Witnesses, using one of the addresses below. For a complete list of addresses, see http://www.jw.org/en/jehovahs-witnesses/offices/.

America, United States of: 25 Columbia Heights Brooklyn, NY 11201-2483

Australia: PO Box 280, Ingleburn, NSW 1890

Britain: The Ridgeway, London NW7 1RN

Canada: PO Box 4100, Georgetown, ON L7G 4Y4

Germany: 65617 Setlers

Guam: 143 Jehovah St., Barrigada, GU 96913

Jamaica: PO Box 103, Old Harbour, St. Catherine

Japan: 4-7-1 Nakashinden, Ebina City, Kanagawa-Pref, 243-0496

Philippines: PO Box 2044, 1060 Manila

Puerto Rico: PO Box 3980, Guaynabo, PR 00970

South Africa: Private Bag X2067, Krugersdorp, 1740

Trinidad and Tobago: Lower Rapsey Street & Laxmi Lane, Curepe