Profiles in Success—Part 2
As brought out in “Profiles in Success—Part 1,” Bible principles can provide families with an anchor in times of despair.* To those who live by his standards, Jehovah God promises: “I shall make you have insight and instruct you in the way you should go. I will give advice with my eye upon you.”—Psalm 32:8.
Coping with financial hardship. Money matters are often at the root of intense marital disputes. But Bible principles can help families to put financial issues in perspective. Jesus said: “Stop being anxious about your souls as to what you will eat or what you will drink, or about your bodies as to what you will wear. . . . Your heavenly Father knows you need all these things.”—Matthew 6:25, 32.
On page 23, Issachar, in the United States, relates how he and his family coped with financial hardship after their home was destroyed by Hurricane Katrina.
When illness afflicts a family member. Virtually all humans get sick. Often, the condition is temporary and recovery is quick. But what if a family member becomes chronically ill? The Bible says that Jehovah can sustain those who are on a sickbed. (Psalm 41:1-3) How can the family be a means through which Jehovah provides such care?
On page 24, Hajime, a husband in Japan, relates how he and his daughters pulled together to help his wife, Noriko, after she was diagnosed with a devastating illness.
When a child dies. The death of a child is one of the greatest tragedies that a family can face. Jehovah promises to wipe away the tears of sorrow that such terrible losses cause. (Revelation 21:1-4) Even now, he provides comfort for the bereaved.—Psalm 147:3.
On page 25, Fernando and Dilma, in the United States, relate how the Bible strengthened them to deal with the death of their infant daughter.
The Bible is a reliable guide for families who face adversity, as the accounts on the following pages illustrate.
See pages 14-17 of this magazine.
[Box/Pictures on page 23]
Coping With Financial Hardship
As told by Issachar Nichols, United States
“Hurricane Katrina destroyed our home, leaving behind only a slab of concrete. The school where I worked sat in water for a month and a half.”
DURING the summer of 2005, my wife, Michelle, and I, along with our two-year-old daughter, Sydney, lived in Bay St. Louis, Mississippi, U.S.A. As Jehovah’s Witnesses, Michelle and I had the goal of having as full a share as possible in the Christian ministry. I was a vocational teacher, and the school where I taught was in nearby New Orleans, Louisiana. My schedule allowed me to work three days a week and to devote much of the remaining time to teaching others about the Bible. We were comfortable with our routine. Then came the news that Hurricane Katrina was threatening to strike. We arranged to evacuate immediately.
When the storm was over, our house in Bay St. Louis was ruined and so was the school I taught at in New Orleans. Insurance and government grant money enabled us to obtain housing, but I found it difficult to find a stable source of income. In addition, my wife contracted a viral infection from contaminated water. Her immune system weakened, and she thereafter became infected with West Nile virus from a mosquito bite. Meanwhile, insurance costs and living expenses escalated.
To adjust to our new circumstances, we learned to be more frugal in spending, even on necessities. I had to be less choosy about the type of work I would accept.
I will admit that losing our possessions was not easy for us. But we were grateful to be alive. And the whole experience underscored the fact that material things have limited value. In fact, we were reminded of Jesus’ words: “Even when a person has an abundance his life does not result from the things he possesses.”—Luke 12:15.
We also realized that no matter how bad we felt about our own losses, there were many who had lost more—some even their lives. That is one reason why, immediately following the disaster, I got busy helping out with relief efforts, giving emotional support to others who had suffered loss.
Throughout this ordeal, Psalm 102:17 has been particularly comforting to us. It states that Jehovah God “will certainly turn to the prayer of those stripped of everything, and not despise their prayer.” As a family, we have felt his support!
[Box on page 23]
After Hurricanes Katrina and Rita struck the U.S. Gulf Coast in 2005, Jehovah’s Witnesses quickly set up 13 relief centers, nine warehouses, and four fuel depots. Nearly 17,000 Witness volunteers streamed in from the United States and 13 other lands to help with the relief efforts. They have repaired thousands of homes.
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When Illness Afflicts a Family Member
As told by Hajime Ito, Japan
“Cooking together was a favorite pastime—until Noriko became ill. Now she cannot eat or drink through her mouth or even talk. She is confined to a wheelchair and breathes through a respirator.”
IN May 2006, my wife, Noriko, began having difficulty speaking. That summer she started having problems eating and drinking. By September she was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS)—a progressive disease that affects the nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord. In just four months, our life changed completely. And her problems were just beginning.
In time, Noriko’s tongue became paralyzed, as did her right hand. A procedure called a gastrostomy enabled her to be fed through a tube, and then a tracheostomy—a surgical opening in the neck to allow the passage of air—rendered her unable to speak. I can’t imagine how devastating this was for Noriko, since she had always been so active. We are Jehovah’s Witnesses, and Noriko and my daughters had been devoting their full time to the Christian ministry. Now Noriko relies on a respirator to breathe, and she is mainly confined to bed.
Still, this does not stop Noriko! For example, she attends Christian meetings in a wheelchair, with the respirator attached. Her hearing has deteriorated, so my daughter writes large notes for her during the meeting so that she can benefit from the program. And even though Noriko has had to discontinue the full-time ministry, she still writes letters to people, teaching them about the Bible’s message of hope by using special equipment that is installed on our personal computer.—2 Peter 3:13; Revelation 21:1-4.
We have cooperated as a family to help Noriko. Both of my daughters obtained new employment so they would be available to help more at home. The three of us take care of the many daily chores that Noriko used to perform.
Sometimes in the morning when I look at Noriko, she seems tired. I think to myself, ‘I would like to tell her to take it easy today.’ But Noriko wants to share the Bible’s message with others. When I start to prepare the computer for her, Noriko’s eyes shine! When she writes, her condition improves. I have come to see the value of “always having plenty to do in the work of the Lord.”—1 Corinthians 15:58.
The experience of ALS sufferer Jason Stuart, related in the January 2006 issue of Awake!, has greatly helped Noriko to avoid becoming despondent. In fact, when hospital staff members wondered why she had such a positive attitude, Noriko told them about the article, and we distributed copies of it to the staff. My wife is greatly sustained by teaching others about her faith.
Noriko and I have been married for 30 years, but during the past three years, I have come to appreciate things about her that I previously took for granted. I am so happy that I married her!
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When a Child Dies
As told by Fernando and Dilma Freitas, United States
“The trauma of the death of a child is something that just cannot be explained. There can be no greater pain.”
OUR daughter, whom we named Precious, died on April 16, 2006. She was only ten days old. About three months into the pregnancy, it was determined that our unborn child had a serious heart-related condition. As the delivery drew closer, it became apparent that she would die shortly after her birth—if she lived at all. This was extremely difficult for us to accept. We had three healthy children. We could not believe that our baby would die.
After Precious was born, an experienced specialist in chromosomal disorders diagnosed her with a rare condition called Trisomy 18, which affects only about 1 in 5,000 babies. It was clear that she would not survive long. We felt utterly helpless because there was so little we could do. The one thing we could do was be with her for the short duration of her life. So that is what we did.
We are so grateful for the ten days that we had with Precious. During that time we and our three daughters bonded with her. We held her, talked to her, hugged her, kissed her, and took as many photographs of her as we could. We even talked about who in the family she most resembled. The specialist who diagnosed Precious’ condition visited us every day in the hospital. He cried with us and told us how sorry he was. He even drew a picture of Precious while he was talking to us for him to remember her. He gave us a copy.
Being Jehovah’s Witnesses, we fully believe, as the Bible teaches, that God will restore paradisaic conditions to our earth and that he yearns to bring back to life on earth those who have died—including infants, such as Precious. (Job 14:14, 15; John 5:28, 29) We look forward to the day when we will hold her and embrace her again. Every time we hear the word “paradise,” that hope warms our hearts! In the meantime, we take comfort in the fact that Precious is in God’s memory and is no longer suffering.—Ecclesiastes 9:5, 10.