The Difference a Sure Hope Makes
‘IT WOULD amaze you. She was positive and cheerful until the very last.’ That was what was said of Anita Brown when she died of cancer after giving birth to a baby boy.
One of the attending physicians at Esperanza hospital, Dr. Ron Lapin, observed: “That 80-pound weakling has really impressed me with her faith and what Jehovah’s Witnesses stand for. She’s been a real lift to the whole hospital staff—a little dynamo.”
When one is dying, from where does such courage and optimism come? How is this related to the faith of Anita that the doctor mentioned?
The matter is made clearer by what a nurse’s aid, Cheryl Douglass, observed. She stated that it was much harder for her to cope with the shock of Anita’s death than it was for Anita’s family. Why? She answered: “They took it a lot better than I did because they’re all Jehovah’s Witnesses and I’m not. Their faith is helping a great deal.”
What was it about the faith of Anita and her family that had such strengthening power in time of need? It was that their faith included the hope of someday living in a new order of God’s making where sickness, sorrow, pain, and death itself, will be no more. In that new order, even the dead will come back to life in a resurrection!
Those are some of the marvelous promises that God has had recorded in his inspired Word, the Bible. Since the Creator’s promises can never fail, the Bible simply declares: “There is going to be a resurrection of both the righteous and the unrighteous.” (Acts 24:15) Anita knew that the Bible likens death to a temporary deep sleep from which she would be awakened in God’s due time.—Eccl. 9:5; John 11:11-14.
When Jesus Christ was on earth he spoke about the resurrection. In fact, he actually demonstrated it by bringing back to life persons who had been dead! For example, when he resurrected the only son of a widow, the Bible account says that Jesus “gave him to his mother.” (Luke 7:11-17) Similarly, Anita knew that someday she, too, would have the opportunity to see her son again, the son with whom she was able to spend only a few precious hours before she died.
On another occasion, Jesus resurrected a young girl. One result was that the girl’s father and mother, and others who were there, “were beside themselves with great ecstasy.” (Mark 5:42) In the same way, great will be the ecstasy when people see their loved ones coming back from the graves in God’s new order.—John 11:1-45.
In that new order under God’s guidance, a new human society will develop that will enjoy a peace, a contentment and a happiness beyond anything ever experienced by any human now alive. The promise is: “God . . . will wipe out every tear from their eyes, and death will be no more, neither will mourning nor outcry nor pain be anymore. The former [bad] things have passed away.”—Rev. 21:3, 4.
It is because all of today’s saddening conditions will be removed that God’s Word can promise: “The meek ones themselves will possess the earth, and they will indeed find their exquisite delight in the abundance of peace.” And this joy will not be just temporary, because the Bible adds: “The righteous themselves will possess the earth, and they will reside forever upon it.”—Ps. 37:11, 29.
This sure hope of living in a new order here on earth, which includes the hope of the resurrection, is a powerful force that helps sustain those with the right kind of faith in God. And they are further strengthened by knowing that this new order is not far off. Why is this so? Because Bible prophecy clearly shows that this present wicked system is in its “last days,” and in the very near future is to be crushed out of existence by God.—2 Tim. 3:1-5; Dan 2:44.
Hence, this hope enables persons to have great optimism and strength in a time of tragedy. That is why the Bible says: “Moreover, brothers, we do not want you to be ignorant concerning those who are sleeping in death; that you may not sorrow just as the rest also do who have no hope.” (1 Thess. 4:13) So those who have this sure hope, while certainly saddened by death, do not grieve excessively. They do not find all joy crushed out of their lives. They know that death is a “sleep” from which one can return to life to benefit from the promises of God.
Another Powerful Help
In addition, one who has true faith knows that the God who will restore life can also now supply powerful help to those who look to him. How? By means of His active force, his holy spirit. That holy spirit is without question the most powerful force in the universe.—Gen. 1:2; Isa. 40:28, 29.
The Bible states that this power can be “tapped” by sincere persons in times of need. Jesus said, for example, that God would “give holy spirit to those asking him.” (Luke 11:13) That spirit enables sincere worshipers of God to do things that other persons cannot. It is why the Bible calls what God’s spirit produces in a person a “power beyond what is normal.” (2 Cor. 4:7) That is the kind of powerful help that aided Anita Brown and her family.—1 John 5:14.
Thus, a person’s having the solid hope of the new order and of the resurrection makes a big difference in his coping with death. And God’s powerful active force helps mightily to sustain the survivors who have lost loved ones. These appreciate, and have actually experienced, the truth of the Bible counsel that says: “Throw your burden upon Jehovah himself, and he himself will sustain you. Never will he allow the righteous one to totter.”—Ps. 55:22.
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Reading Bible accounts of Jesus’ bringing dead persons back to life strengthens our hope in the coming resurrection, helping us to cope with death now