What Basis Is There for Hope?
THERE was a hardworking man in his sixties. He had grown up in New Jersey, led a very active life, had never been sick, but suddenly he began to feel ill. He tried to ignore the feeling, but it would not go away. And no wonder; for a diagnosis revealed that he had cancer. He tried various remedies and spent a number of weeks at a famed cancer clinic. He returned seemingly cured, a new man, as it were. But not for long. Slowly his health began to slip again and soon it was apparent that nothing would help. Yet through it all he had a cheerful disposition. Why? Because he had a basis for hope.
Also, there was a Canadian couple who started out in their married life very much in love with each other. But then he got a job playing in a hotel orchestra and over a radio network, which kept him late every night, while she worked during the daytime. Now they started to drift apart. Soon it seemed that a divorce was the only solution. But then something came into their lives that drew them together in heart and mind. What was that? A basis for hope.
Typical also was the lot of a certain hippie in Virginia. He became completely disillusioned because of the way selfish men were running the world. As a result, he let his ideals slip away from him. But when he found that that did not make him happy he looked elsewhere. Eventually he, as so many others like him, found a basis for hope that brought him happiness.
A BASIS FOR HOPE
True, there are many who speak disparagingly of hope. But whether one’s hope proves valuable or disappointing all depends upon what that hope is based on. No one who sincerely desires to do what is right needs to be without hope. Why can that be said? Because of the fact that Jehovah God, the Creator of all things, a God who is loving, wise and almighty, does indeed exist.—Rom. 1:20.
Surely reason tells us that this marvelous universe with its beauty, symmetry, order and infinite variety, did not come into existence by itself, by accident. Thus Sir Isaac Newton, whom many historians of science classify as “the greatest scientific mind the world has ever seen,” wrote in a letter to a friend that in his greatest work, the Principia, he had made it a point to highlight proofs that God did indeed exist, and that he was glad to see that these proofs had their effect on people.
In that famed document he had written: “This most beautiful system of the sun, planets, and comets, could only proceed from the counsel and dominion of an intelligent and powerful Being. . . . This Being governs all things . . . as Lord over all . . . The Supreme God is a Being eternal, infinite, absolutely perfect.”
Some, however, may argue, ‘Not so. Look at all the misery and wickedness on the earth.’ But the existence of such conditions does not soundly argue against God’s existence nor against putting faith in Him. Why not? Because his Word, the Holy Bible, satisfactorily explains God’s reasons for permitting wickedness to continue so long. In brief, God has permitted these conditions for two basic reasons. One, because of a challenge made by the Devil impugning God’s rulership, boasting that he could turn all creatures away from God. God knew that some would keep integrity in spite of all that Satan could do. And two, to let imperfect man demonstrate his utter inability to bring peace, prosperity and happiness apart from God.
And let it be noted that there are many and powerfully compelling reasons for accepting the Bible as the inspired Word of God, even as there are for having faith in the existence of God. Foremost is the fulfillment of so many of its prophecies throughout the centuries; the marvelous harmony of its many writings though written over a period of more than fifteen centuries and by men often living many, many miles apart; the candor of its writers, as well as its support by secular history and archaeology.a
BIBLE-BASED HOPE BENEFITS NOW
Hope in Jehovah God and in his Word is fittingly likened to an anchor. Even as an anchor can give a ship stability in a raging storm, so the anchor of a Bible-based hope can give us stability amid life’s storms. It is also likened to a helmet that can protect one’s mind from disturbing doubts.—1 Thess. 5:8; Heb. 6:19.
That is why that man from New Jersey could continue cheerful though his life was ebbing away as a result of cancer. He had the hope of a resurrection and believed that God rewards those who serve him faithfully.—2 Tim. 4:8; Heb. 11:6.
The value of the resurrection hope is also seen from the experience of a Hindu woman living in the territory of Durban, South Africa. She was steeped in Hindu traditions and customs and was intensely devoted to her husband. When he suddenly died of a heart attack, she felt so disconsolate that she could not eat. In fact, she was determined to commit suicide by starving herself to death and even wrote a letter to God asking him to forgive her for taking her own life. But after a fast of forty days she began to eat again. Why? Because Christian witnesses of Jehovah, who believe in the resurrection, were able to comfort her with the hope that someday she would see her beloved husband again.—Acts 17:31; 24:15; John 5:28, 29.
And how did Bible-based hope mend the marriage of that Canadian couple that had broken up? By bringing them a better understanding of what God’s requirements are and giving them a mutual goal for which to strive.—Matt. 6:33; 19:3-6.
The same was true of the youth who was attracted to the hippie way of life because the world had nothing to offer and he saw no real hope for the future. While in Vietnam as an American soldier he got in touch with Christian missionaries, Jehovah’s witnesses, who helped him to see the certainty of the promises of God and gave him a basis for hope—a hope that will soon be realized. How can we be certain that the time is near?
GOD’S TIMETABLE POINTS TO NOW
God’s Word assures us: “For everything there is an appointed time, even a time for every affair under the heavens.” (Eccl. 3:1) Thus Jehovah God permitted the wickedness and violence of the pre-Flood world for just so long, and then sent the Deluge that wiped the earth clean of all wicked and violent men. (Gen. 6:3-12; 7:11-24) Similarly, in his due time God brought the wretchedly enslaved Israelites out of Egyptian bondage and settled them in Canaan, in a land flowing with milk and honey.—Ex. 1:8-14; 2:23-25; Josh. 21:45.
And what about the present ‘difficult times hard to deal with’? The Bible says: “When the wicked ones sprout as the vegetation and all the practicers of what is hurtful blossom forth”—which they certainly are doing now—“it is that they may be annihilated forever.” Then, with the destruction of wickedness, God’s due time will have come for his ‘will to be done on earth as in heaven.’ “He will wipe out every tear from their eyes, and death will be no more, neither will mourning nor outcry nor pain be anymore.”—2 Tim. 3:1-5; Ps. 92:7; Matt. 6:10; Rev. 21:4.
But why can we be so certain that these promises will be fulfilled? Because the Bible tells us that we have ‘a basis for hope because God, who cannot lie, has made these promises.’ (Titus 1:2) Yes, ever so many prophecies recorded in the Bible have been fulfilled, such as the years when the land of Judah would be desolate, seventy years; the exact year when the Messiah would come; where he would be born; what he would do; how he would die and be raised from the dead.—Jer. 29:10; Isa. 53:1-12; Dan. 9:2, 24-27; Mic. 5:2; Ps. 16:10.
That this very generation can hope to see God’s promises regarding the future of this earth fulfilled is confirmed by what this present generation has seen in fulfillment of the prophecies of Jesus and his apostles. (See Matthew, chapters 24 and 25; Mark, chapter 13, and Luke, chapter 21.) In connection with what we today have witnessed, Jesus declared: “Truly I say to you that this generation will by no means pass away until all these things occur.”—Matt. 24:34.
HOW TO STRENGTHEN YOUR HOPE
Do you want a strong, spirit-sustaining hope? Then you must put forth earnest and sincere efforts to acquire it. It is as a well-known American sociologist once wryly observed: “Leaders who preach a message of hope are never very welcome, for they require . . . effort, activity, fidelity, commitment.” Of course, he had reference to leaders who put forth human-based hopes; still, the same principle applies to hope based on God’s Word.
First in importance is to acquaint yourself with the Book of Hope, the Holy Bible, and with its reasons for your having hope. Endeavor to read a portion of that Book every day. Knowledge is essential if there is to be faith, and faith is what makes hope possible.
Of course, merely reading the Bible will not give you faith; you must understand what you are reading. The Bible itself makes this point in the account of an Ethiopian official who was reading the prophecy of Isaiah, chapter 53, but confessed he did not understand to whom the prophecy was referring. It took the evangelizer Philip to explain that the prophecy was referring to Jesus Christ.—Acts 8:27-38.
Who can help you to understand the Bible? Obviously, it would need to be Christians who really believe the Bible to be the Word of God. From the foregoing you can see that this magazine is published—and distributed—by those who have faith in the Bible as God’s Word. Moreover, these, the Christian witnesses of Jehovah, sincerely endeavor to live by what they preach, further recommending them to you as sincere students and teachers of Bible truths.
In fact, this is being recognized by more and more persons who are not Witnesses. The New York Amsterdam News, of August 10, 1974, on its editorial page, had a large drawing of an upright Bible with a witness of Jehovah standing on it, peering with a telescope into the future. The drawing was captioned “Keeping the Faith.” In its editorial the newspaper stated: “This is a religious group which has, over the years, unswervingly held to its beliefs by precept and example and rigidly practices what it preaches in a world where such things are rare. . . . Such Keepers of the Faith are good for our city and good for our sinful nation because of the example they set amid the scandals, murders and moral breakdowns of our times. Welcome to New York, Jehovah’s Witnesses!”
These Christian witnesses of Jehovah are fully equipped to help you strengthen your faith in God and the Bible so that you can have a bright and strong hope regarding the future. Not only do they publish Bibles and Bible study aids but they are ready to help you to understand the Bible by conducting a weekly Bible study in your own home absolutely free of charge. Moreover, they also welcome you to their Kingdom Halls. There they have five one-hour gatherings each week where Bible teachings and principles are expounded and inculcated.
No question about it—because Jehovah God the Creator exists, because he has fine qualities and has interest in his earthly creatures and because his Word the Bible is true—there is abundant reason for you to hope. But to make that hope your own, you must work at it.
a For details, see Is the Bible Really the Word of God?