Joy from Having Spiritual Needs Filled
HAVE you noticed how few people these days seem to have genuine joy? They keenly sense that something is missing in their life, but they do not know just what it might be. Has this been your personal experience? If so, could it be because your spiritual needs are not being satisfied?
We cannot escape the fact that we need more than food, clothing and shelter to make us happy. Otherwise unhappiness would be unknown among materially prosperous people. But we know that this is not the case. On the other hand, some persons with little in a material way experience great joy. Why? They have found that the Bible expresses a basic truth when it says: “Happy are those conscious of their spiritual need.” (Matt. 5:3) Such an awareness of spiritual need prompts the individual to take action to fill it. The spiritual satisfaction thus gained can be the source of joy of the highest caliber.
But where can a person look for spiritual nourishment? Could it be in one of the prominent religious organizations of Christendom? Or, might it be among a comparatively small group of devoted Christians?
For an answer to these questions, let us focus our attention on recent developments in Italy. Expressions such as the following are to be heard there: “We just started a study of the Bible and have an eager desire to get deeply into the only truth in the world.” “I want you to know that I got farther and farther away from religion but have a secret hope of finding the light of the true faith.” “It is the third time I have talked with your fellow workers. Although I am a Catholic, I keenly appreciate what you do and receive much spiritual benefit from it. I accepted the Bible study you offered and want to thank you very kindly for the work you are accomplishing in spreading the Word of the Lord.” These are but a few samples of the comments received daily at the branch office of the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society in Rome.
Some may think it strange that in Italy, considered by many to be the cradle of Christianity, there should be persons who could not satisfy their spiritual needs in their own church and want to study the Bible with Jehovah’s Witnesses. Interestingly, though, Cardinal Poletti, due to people’s waning interest in the Church, recently called Rome a “missionary field.” This may well apply to all of Italy.
Yes, an ever-increasing number of Italians are becoming conscious of their spiritual need. Particularly during the last thirty years there has been greater emphasis on getting advanced education. So Italians are reading more, and one result has been that many have come to realize that they have not received Bible education from their religious leaders. In fact, until quite recently reading of the Holy Scriptures was not encouraged by the Church.
HANDICAPPED PERSONS RESPOND
The Bible’s message appeals to people of all kinds. Severely handicapped persons, for example, are no exception. They, too, can experience great joy when their spiritual hunger is satisfied.
Take the case of one young man in Italy whose arms and legs were paralyzed in the prime of youth on account of a road accident. Thereafter a friend spoke to him about the Bible and presented him a copy, along with the Bible study aid The Truth That Leads to Eternal Life. Within two months the young man had read these from cover to cover and began studying the Holy Scriptures with Jehovah’s Witnesses. Soon he recognized the importance of sharing with others what he had learned. His brother-in-law, who was not then one of Jehovah’s Witnesses, would take him by car so that he could speak with others about the Scriptures. Since the paralyzed man had to remain in bed or in his wheelchair, he would take advantage of every occasion to speak to those who visited him. Also, he tried writing letters by tying a pen to his wrist. But this did not work too well, as his writing was just too bad. So he bought an electric typewriter and came up with a device that could be tied to his wrist, enabling him to strike the keys with it.
Six months after his baptism, this young man began devoting about one hundred hours each month to aiding others to learn about the Bible. He conducted as many as six Bible studies, and had the great joy of seeing three of the persons with whom he studied progress to the point of getting baptized at a circuit assembly of Jehovah’s Witnesses.
In spite of his physical condition, he is finding happiness in assisting others spiritually. In one of his letters, he writes: “I am grateful to Jehovah because he has given me the potential to cultivate heartfelt interest in the Holy Bible and the desire to serve him.”
Through a study of the Bible, a deaf-mute couple were likewise helped to find real satisfaction and joy in life. Besides their physical handicap they had other serious problems. Their marriage was most unhappy.
Every night the husband would come home drunk and would at times beat his wife. Their financial situation was very bad, and they had to support four children ranging in age from six to thirteen years. Because of poor health, the wife feared another pregnancy. When she again became pregnant, she tried to commit suicide. But she was rushed to the hospital and so escaped death. At this time a deaf-mute friend of hers, who studied with Jehovah’s Witnesses, communicated with her about God’s kingdom. This woman gladly accepted the offer of a Bible study. Soon her husband joined in the discussions.
As a result of having their spiritual needs filled, their life changed for the better. No longer did the husband smoke, beat his wife or get drunk. Freed from expensive habits, the family’s economic situation improved noticeably. Later, the wife got baptized at a circuit assembly of Jehovah’s Witnesses in 1974, and the husband was immersed in the summer of 1975 during the “Divine Sovereignty” District Assembly. Presently both are busy in helping other deaf-mutes in Italy to come to an accurate knowledge of the truth.
A NEW AND HAPPIER WAY OF LIFE
Thieves, drug addicts, prostitutes, as well as persons whose lives were all wrapped up in such things as sports and the like, have come to appreciate the value of spiritual things. That is why they are now pursuing a much happier way of life.
Unknown to herself, a Witness mother played a role in helping a thief to make a start in caring for spiritual needs. She customarily read aloud to her baby from the Bible. One evening she concluded her reading with Ephesians 4:28: “Let the stealer steal no more, but rather let him do hard work, doing with his hands what is good work.” Then she closed the Bible, put it on the bedside table, and turned off the lights to sleep. When she got up the next morning, the Bible was nowhere to be found. No one in the home knew anything about it. What had happened to this Bible?
Some months later, during a district assembly of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Cagliari, Sardinia, a man approached her and asked: “Do you know where I got a knowledge of the truth?” “No, I don’t,” was her reply. He continued: “I got to know it under your bed.” The Witness could not believe what she was hearing. Shown the Bible he had with him, she immediately recognized it as the one that had disappeared from her bedside table. The man explained that he had gone into her house to steal. But, hearing a noise, he hid under the bed and stayed there until the Witness finished reading her Bible, turned off the light and fell asleep. “As soon as I was sure you were asleep,” the man added, “I took the Bible from which you read ‘Let the stealer steal no more,’ left the house and went home. That Bible was my last theft.” In the meantime he had looked for Jehovah’s Witnesses and started a Bible study.
Then there was a young Italian woman who tried to study and to explain the Gospel to others, but did so under the influence of drugs. Later she came in contact with Jehovah’s Witnesses and, with her husband, began studying the Bible with them. On the basis of what they learned, they stopped living an immoral life and using drugs. Both are now trying to help other young people to appreciate that God can be reached, not by using drugs, but by doing his will as explained in the Holy Bible.
There are times when those who take in the rich spiritual food of God’s Word come to look at matters from a completely different standpoint. Spiritual things begin to take on the greatest importance in their life and they are willing to give up things that at one time were very dear to them.
This was the experience of a girl who had become a champion discus thrower. She relates: “Every day I would be at the stadium for training. Rain or wind would not stop me. My goal was to win the Italian record for my sport.” But, then, as she studied the Bible, this girl realized that involvement with competitive sports could hinder her from cultivating the right Christian spirit. So she decided to quit sports and eventually, as she herself wrote, “was baptized in Rome at the same stadium where I used to be honored for my sports performances.”
Another who began to look at his life differently was the owner of a gymnasium where judo and karate were taught. After studying the Bible, his conscience moved him to view training for violence in a different light. He decided to sever his connections with these “martial arts.” Having acted in harmony with his conscience, he takes delight in acquainting others with the Christian message of peace.
A MARVELOUS LIBERATION
Truly, spiritual food from God’s Word has helped people to break free from ways that they came to appreciate as being out of harmony with Christian living. Some in Italy have also experienced a liberation from harassment by superhuman forces.
This is what happened to a nine-year-old girl. One day she went to visit her aunt and was brought before a clairvoyant in trance. As a result, the little girl was struck with paralysis, her eyes became wide open and glassy, and the color of her face turned extremely pale. From then on the girl had visions and heard voices; she was also able to perform apparent healings and to foretell deaths. Experiencing sleepless nights, she was greatly upset and often cried out of fear. She also perspired profusely as if engaged in a fight. On her breast the figure of a cross appeared. It looked as though her breast had been cut open.
The girl’s parents were very distressed about what was happening to their child. Clergymen were unable to provide any help. One of them even suggested the possibility that the little girl was on the way to “holiness.” But the child suffered greatly and was most unhappy. She wanted so much to be like all the other little girls and play, run and jump.
When the father was in the depths of hopelessness, he came in contact with Jehovah’s Witnesses. He told them about his daughter’s condition. From the Bible, he was shown that what had happened to her was not the will of God. A Bible study was started with the whole family. When they recognized that Jehovah’s Word condemns idolatrous images, they got rid of everything in their home that had associations with false worship. As the little girl progressed in the study of the Bible, she began experiencing grand relief. Soon she no longer heard “voices,” visions vanished and the cross on her breast disappeared. She regained the joy of living, and the entire family was happy for the undeserved kindness of Jehovah God. Soon they expressed their gratitude by getting baptized, symbolizing their dedication to the God of mercy, Jehovah.
PERSONS IN RELIGIOUS PROFESSIONS
It is also noteworthy that people in religious professions are giving evidence that their spiritual needs are not really being cared for. Italian magazines and newspapers continue to report that more and more seminaries are closed or almost empty because fewer young men are willing to take up the priesthood. Also, a growing number of priests, nuns and friars are leaving religious orders and taking up other vocations. And surprisingly, among Jehovah’s Witnesses can be found a growing number of former nuns, friars and priests. How did these persons become aware of a spiritual need?
There was the friar who was sitting at the door of a monastery when a woman came to tell him that Jehovah’s Witnesses had visited her home and left the Watchtower and Awake! magazines. He suggested that she leave the magazines with him, so that she would not be contaminated by reading the two journals. But this friar later read the magazines and was startled to learn that the Gospel accounts speak of Jesus as having half brothers. As soon as he could, he went to the library and eventually located a Bible. After looking up the Bible quotations appearing in the magazines, he was convinced that they contained the truth.
To the best of his ability, he began to tell the other friars what he had learned. For this, he was reproved, moved to other monasteries and finally taken to a hospital on the pretense of being insane. Upon being released from the hospital, he went home and explained to his family why he left the monastery. They were furious with him, but he did not lose his courage. He located Jehovah’s Witnesses and began studying the Bible with them.
For several years now this former friar has been proclaiming Bible truth to others and is finding great joy in doing so.
Another case in point is a man who had been a parish priest for seventeen years. He was very conscientious about observing the precepts of the Church. But then certain doctrines began to trouble him. He was unable to understand how a God of love could torment His own intelligent human creatures in a fire throughout eternity. Later he had the opportunity to read the Bible study aid The Truth That Leads to Eternal Life and other Watch Tower publications.
After some months of meditation he decided to give up his position as parish priest and find secular work. He began to associate regularly with the local congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses. Finally he symbolized his dedication to Jehovah God by water baptism. He is now finding much joy in conducting Bible studies with some of his former parishioners.
The work of Bible education carried on by Jehovah’s Witnesses in modern times had a very small beginning. Italy is no exception. Back in 1946 only 120 persons were spreading the Bible’s message to their neighbors. By 1950 that number had increased to 1,211. Twenty-five years later, in 1975, 56,264 were busy in encouraging others to study the Bible.
Many more persons are attending the meetings of Jehovah’s Witnesses in their Kingdom Halls. Often the attendance is double the number of Witnesses associated with that particular congregation. To commemorate the Lord’s Evening Meal on April 7, 1975, for example, 120,031 were present in the various congregations throughout Italy.
As in Italy, people elsewhere from all walks of life have benefited greatly from studying the Bible with Jehovah’s Christian witnesses and attending their meetings. Once having their own spiritual needs filled, they are eager to share with others what they have learned. This adds to their happiness, for the Scriptures tell us, “There is more happiness in giving than there is in receiving.”—Acts 20:35.
If you desire the joy that comes from having spiritual needs satisfied, why not invite Jehovah’s Witnesses to conduct a free Bible study in your home or at any other location convenient for you? See for yourself how a regular program of spiritual feeding can enrich your life and add immeasurably to your joy.