Proof in the Lives of People
IN THIS mixed-up world it is difficult for a person to simplify his life and to find peace of mind and happiness. Do the Bible’s principles and counsel, if put into practice, actually accomplish these things? Certainly if a good thing is really practiced it should produce concrete results that are satisfying. Does proof exist that the Bible can move people to make the changes necessary for a happy life? Can it help people no matter what their position in life and their circumstances may be?
Yes, it can. There are now at least two million people in the world who really study the Bible and who do their best to apply its counsel in every phase of their lives. They have found that making the Bible their sole guide has led them into useful, productive lives. These people are known as Jehovah’s witnesses. The majority among them are people who have lived normal, law-abiding lives, though some in the past lived lawlessly and immorally. There are former churchgoers and those who were not religious, people from families both united and broken. But they all had one thing in common: They felt the need of emotional security and desired to accomplish something worth while and permanent in their lives. God has regard for any who long for a happy life, want to do what is right, to learn of him and serve him. This is proved by the following experiences.
Psychologist Sees Bible Help a Family
The Bible can accomplish much to help people, even whole families. Observing this truth in action surprised and convinced a man in the psychology field. He says:
“Encouraged by my father, I pursued a college career. Upon completing my education as a psychology major, I began working in the correctional field. This brought me a sense of fulfillment, as I felt that I was really helping people.
“After a number of years, however, I began to see that the methods used did not change youths very much. True, there were surface changes. But there was little lasting personal or social change. This disturbed me greatly. The application of what I had spent years in learning did not really have much of an impact for good.”
In his capacity as supervisor of juvenile delinquents on parole, he handled one case that really caused him to think. This involved a family with three children, all of whom were in difficulty. There was a nine-month break in his caring for the case, which he considered to be hopeless. But when he again saw this family, he noted a remarkable change. The home that had been very dirty and disorderly was now neat and clean. The children were dressed presentably and seemed more secure. What had been responsible for this amazing change? The mother had begun studying the Bible with Jehovah’s witnesses and was applying its principles to family life. Seeing this remarkable transformation caused him to wonder whether there was not something that could bring better results than he could with his training.
Another factor that became of great concern to him was the deterioration in world conditions and the inability of the agency with which he was working to cope with social problems. He notes:
“The agency tried various means to bring about good results. Case loads were reduced, new methods were tried. Past techniques were revived and given new labels. But all these efforts seemed fruitless.”
As a consequence, this man began to look for something better. He tried reading the Bible but did not gain much understanding. His mother, who had become one of Jehovah’s witnesses when he started his college training, had tried to explain things to him previously, but he did not take a real interest in what she said. Finally, though, he went to a Kingdom Hall of Jehovah’s Witnesses and then began a serious study of the Bible. He also noted young people, among them some former drug users and delinquents who had changed their outlook and personality and had become responsible, moral individuals. Since that time he has come to appreciate, even in his own case, that application of Bible principles can produce real personality changes, not just surface changes.
Prisoner Changes from Violent Life
A similar case was reported in the South Middlesex (Massachusetts) News of May 11, 1975. Under the heading “Inmate Pays Religious Debt” the report is given of a middle-aged prisoner.
This man was placed in a cell with a prisoner who had become one of Jehovah’s witnesses. As a Catholic, the man relates: ‘Everything that the Witness was saying was against whatever I’d been taught, but eventually I began to recognize that Jehovah’s witnesses answer all the contradictions.’ Now this former criminal says that he has been given a solid foundation and goals, “which I never had before in my life.” Out on a work-release program, he has been helping the Witnesses to build a Kingdom Hall in Framingham, Massachusetts. His Bible knowledge, he says, has helped him to reverse “a whole trend of violence” in his family.
His psychologist backs him up, saying that his patient has shifted from an “amoral, destructive person, to one with a conscience.” “I attribute this solely to his experience with the Witnesses, that he’s made these changes. They’ve been responsible for a social re-education of tremendous power and impact, over the last two and a half years. There’s absolutely no way this guy could have carried himself this far through therapy. I’ve seen him shift away from an amoral, destructive attitude to a solid sense of responsibility, which is pretty difficult.”
The psychologist remarked that though people “may very well wonder if this will last,” especially with a person of this man’s background for whom “this is a tremendously potent type thing,” he is quite sure this is a permanent change. He added: ‘Of course, there is no document on this, and no guarantee, but I believe he has found a whole social reference group that has altered his life.’
Truly the Bible’s admonition, when applied, can have a wholesome impact on the life of an individual regardless of his background. Even persons who have lived a good moral life and who get a measure of satisfaction from their work find that only the Bible with its better hope and high principles can give a full, happy life.
Bible Education Even Better than Public Health Education
Consider the experience of a woman in New York city. She had pursued a life of devotion to public health education, with a view to helping her fellowman. This was a commendable pursuit, and she still follows the nursing profession. Eventually, however, the time came when she began to recognize that more than her career was needed to enjoy full happiness and real satisfaction. But there were some obstacles standing in the way of her accepting the Bible as the key to finding what was missing in her life. She relates the following:
“I was not a religious person. In fact, I had serious questions about the existence of God. I just could not understand why babies died, whereas old people suffering from crippling diseases, and helpless paralytics, continued living. Still, my profession, public health nursing and education, brought me some satisfaction.
“My work required some activity in community affairs. I recall that on one occasion I visited a public school and noted the dangerous, rickety condition of the wooden steps. I represented the Public Health Nursing Service on a committee composed of business people, doctors, lawyers and teachers, organized to help the community deal with its problems. This committee drew up a letter to the Board of Education recommending that something be done to remedy this dangerous condition of the dilapidated school. Three years passed, but nothing was done. Our committee wrote three letters during this time, in each instance receiving acknowledgment and commendation for our interest in the community. Nevertheless, the dangerous situation remained.
“I was also disgusted with the status system, based on cultural biases. When I mentioned these matters to my brother, who was one of Jehovah’s witnesses, he pointed out that even the hands of officials are tied. ‘The system,’ he said, ‘keeps them from following through on their better motives.’ This got me to thinking.
“My brother gave me some Bible literature. Though I had no real interest, I began to look into it, only to find fault. At times I became upset about what I read. Then I would check the statements with my Bible and would find them to be true. So I decided that it would be better to read the Bible first before arguing.
“In time I came to appreciate that the Bible is dependable and is inspired of God. What impressed me particularly was Bible prophecy. It amazed me to see that what God had said even centuries in advance was fulfilled. Also, the meaning of the word ‘sin’ helped me to see just where I stood. I never thought of myself as a wicked person. I wasn’t a liar, a thief or an adulteress. The label ‘sinner’ seemed fanatical to me. But when I learned that ‘sin’ in the original languages of the Bible means ‘to miss the mark,’ I could understand. Because, like everyone else, I knew that I had shortcomings.
“Then when I learned that we are living in the last days of this old system and that our heavenly Father purposes to restore the human family to perfect health on a cleansed earth, beginning in the near future—my, this would be the best welfare program ever! Now, while still helping others physically, I can also help them spiritually.”
Happiness in Marriage
The contrast between life with and without Biblical guidance and the corresponding effect on family life are well illustrated in the case of a young man who served in the United States Air Force.
While in the Air Force this man began living a life of immorality and in time felt forced to get married to a girl who was pregnant with his child. Even then he did not accept his responsibility as husband and father but sent his wife back home to her mother and did not remain faithful to her. Eventually the first marriage ended in divorce and his former wife remarried.
Upon his discharge from the military, this man returned home to live with his father, mother and brother. At the time they were studying the Bible with Jehovah’s witnesses. So he, too, began to study and to progress in living by the Bible. Eventually he remarried, as he was Scripturally free to do. Contrasting the present with the past, he relates:
“In the past I lacked respect for women. By the way I lived, I brought much unhappiness to myself and others, especially to my first wife. After starting to live by the Bible, I could see that applying its principles was the best way to live. By treating my second wife in a Christian way, loving her as I do myself, I have found real happiness in marriage. Our marriage of ten years has been comparatively without problems. When consulted by others about marital problems, I direct them to what the Bible says. I know from personal experience that applying its counsel really works. On the other hand, those who disregard it, knowingly or unknowingly, experience much unhappiness and heartache.”
Saved from Suicide
The guidance provided by the Bible can even save a person from a state of utter despair and give him a life of purpose. This was the experience of a youth in the western part of the United States.
At the age of twelve this boy lost his father in death. His mother was an alcoholic and therefore unable to give him much parental guidance. This left him feeling very insecure. His association with other teen-agers led to his starting to drink heavily, to smoke marijuana and eventually to take barbiturates. All of this contributed to increased depression. He developed an inferiority complex and found life very difficult.
Then, at the age of seventeen, he began seeking help through religion. During the vacation period he would go to the Catholic church morning, noon and night, spending several hours there each day. He prayed extensively and started reading the Bible. He found the Psalms and the book of Proverbs very helpful and refreshing. Nevertheless, despite his earnest efforts and prayer, he felt that he was making little headway.
One night when he was walking home from church, he was extremely depressed. He prayed and then, at about 11:30 p.m., called his sister-in-law, telling her that he was so depressed that he was ready to take his life. Not knowing just what to say, his sister-in-law told him to wait and she would call back. She quickly phoned a fellow worker, one of Jehovah’s witnesses, who had been very helpful to her in coping with problems.
This Witness then called him up and arrangements were made that very night to get together with him at the home of his sister-in-law. About 11:45 p.m. the Witness and her teen-age son arrived to pick him up by car. The apparent closeness of the mother and son as well as their conduct impressed him very much. For three hours thereafter they discussed such questions as, Where are the dead? and, Why has God permitted wickedness? The youth was encouraged to learn that, according to Bible prophecy, the present system is in its “last days” and will soon be replaced by a righteous new system. He was thrilled to know that there was a possibility of his not having to wait to grow old and die before being reunited with his father. He might actually have the opportunity of surviving the end of this system and being able to welcome back his father from the dead.
Asked whether he would like to study the Bible, he thought for a moment. What he had heard had really helped him. So he agreed, feeling that even greater good would result from a regular Bible study. That indeed proved to be the case. Study of the Scriptures and applying them gave him a goal in life and a solid hope for the future. He was able to change his whole way of thinking. His spirit changed from that of sadness and depression to deep-seated joy. Today he uses his time wisely in aiding others to learn about the excellent guidance the Bible contains.
As in the above experiences, Jehovah’s witnesses in all parts of the earth have found that, to the extent that they have followed the Bible, their lives have been happy. There are problems, of course, not all perfectly solvable. But the Bible’s counsel enables one to cope with the problems so that one’s life is not upset.