Disease—Will It Ever End?
IF YOU had developed bone cancer about 10 years ago, your prospects for the future would have been grim indeed. According to the National Cancer Institute, 10 years ago 80 percent of young adults with bone cancer died within 3 years. Today, however, thanks to the advances of science, it is claimed that 90 percent of these patients are free of the disease three years after diagnosis.
Similar progress has been made in the treatment of other diseases. For example, in 1979 a global commission appointed by the World Health Organization declared that smallpox had been eradicated worldwide. As for tuberculosis, although some 3 million people still die from it each year, World Health magazine claims: “We already possess all the necessary weapons to wipe out tuberculosis. All we need to defeat the disease, now and forever, are the financial resources and the political will.”
There is no denying that science has made great strides in the fight against disease. Yet this fact remains: Science is far from conquering sickness and disease. For example, heart disease remains the leading cause of premature death in industrialized countries. Additionally, please consider the accompanying box “Is Science Ending Disease?” It takes note of other diseases that continue to baffle medical science.
Frustratingly, the list of deadly diseases seems to expand, old ones persisting and new ones being added. Clearly, while science has made much progress and has given us much for which to be grateful, it is by no means eliminating sickness and disease. Is there no hope for the future?
Basis for Hope
There is every reason for true optimism that sickness and disease will come to an end. But, no, not by the dedicated work of scientists. Rather, this will come from a much higher source.
To conquer disease permanently, two very important factors are needed: (1) The capability and (2) the will. One without the other will not do. Recall that World Health magazine claimed that man is capable of wiping out tuberculosis forever, but he lacks “the financial resources and the political will.”
There is only one personage in the universe who ultimately has both the capability and the will to wipe out all diseases forever—God himself! Indeed, when Jesus Christ, who perfectly mirrored his Father’s qualities, was on earth he marvelously demonstrated how God-given power can conquer disease and infirmity.—John 14:9.
There is no question that Jesus Christ, by means of the “power of God,” was capable of conquering disease. (Luke 9:43) In a very real sense Jesus restored the health of many sick, infirm and crippled people—the lame, the maimed and the blind (Matthew 15:30, 31), the epileptic, the paralytic (Matthew 4:24), the leprous (Luke 17:12-14), a hemorrhaging woman (Mark 5:25-29), one with a withered hand (Mark 3:3-5), a man with dropsy (Luke 14:2-4) and people sick with “various diseases.” (Luke 4:40) Why, there are even three verified cases of Jesus’ raising the dead! (Luke 7:11-15; 8:49-56; John 11:38-44) In most instances, the healing was instantaneous, with no period of convalescence or rehabilitation required.
Of course, that Jesus Christ was willing to conquer disease is obvious from the many cures that he performed. However, in a very touching way the Bible reveals Jesus’ heartfelt desire to restore health to others.
After hearing about the death of John the Baptizer, Jesus went by boat to an isolated place in order to be alone. But apparently a considerable crowd of people saw the boat set sail and figured out where it was going. They were waiting for Jesus when he arrived. How did Jesus react? Was he resentful? Annoyed? After all, was he not entitled to rest and quiet? Far from his finding them a nuisance, however, the account explains:
“Now when he came forth he saw a great crowd; and he felt pity for them, and he cured their sick ones.” (Matthew 14:13, 14) One Bible scholar says of the Greek word here translated “felt pity”: “[It is] the strongest word for compassionate pity in the Greek language. It is formed from the word splagchna, which means the bowels, and it describes the pity and the compassion which move a man to the very deepest depths of his being.” Yes, Jesus could not bear to see the suffering of others without easing the pain.—Luke 5:12-14.
There is no question about it. Empowered by God, Jesus Christ was both capable and willing to conquer disease. And he still is! (Hebrews 13:8) The healings he performed while on earth foreshadowed the healing blessings that will be extended to mankind earth wide under the rule of God’s Kingdom. ‘But when will this come?’ you ask.
The End of Disease at Hand!
As has been shown many times in The Watchtower, the composite “sign,” of which ‘pestilence,’ or disease, is a part, has been unmistakably evident since 1914. When you examine the evidence, there is no doubt that Jesus’ words have come true. So, much of the sickness and disease that we see today is actually in fulfillment of Jesus’ prophecy at Matthew 24:3-7 and Luke 21:10, 11. That means we are living at “the conclusion of the system of things”!
Soon God’s Kingdom will remove this present wicked system and replace it with a righteous New Order. (2 Peter 3:13) Then, under Kingdom rule, no longer will pestilence, or disease, rob us of health and life. How thankful we can be that our loving heavenly Father has both the capability and the will to wipe out sickness and disease completely, forever!—Revelation 21:3, 4.
Would you like to find out more about these promised blessings of God and what you must do to benefit from them? Jehovah’s Witnesses will gladly assist you. Why not get in touch with them locally or write to the publishers of this magazine?
[Box on page 7]
Is Science Ending Disease?
Cancer: It is estimated that this year alone there will be some 835,000 new cases of cancer in the United States. At the same time, some 430,000 people will die of it. And the World Health Organization claims that of the estimated 37 million cases of cancer worldwide more than half are in the developing world.
Chagas’ Disease: This is a parasitic infection that afflicts some 10 million people in South and Central America. In the early stages parasites invade the body’s tissues, particularly the heart. The disease is chronic and can be fatal, death often resulting from cardiac insufficiency. There is no known cure for Chagas’ disease.
Influenza: The Spanish influenza was no doubt the worst flu pandemic of all, claiming an estimated 20 million lives in 1918 and 1919. Despite the availability of vaccines, major new strains of the flu virus have cropped up since then. The flu virus has the uncanny ability to change its molecular structure every so often, causing new epidemics. Thus, the Asian flu killed some 57,000 people worldwide in 1957. The Hong Kong flu killed 33,000 in 1968 and 1969. In the past 20 years, some 500,000 Americans have been killed by the flu.
River Blindness: River blindness, also called onchocerciasis, is a chronic disease spread by the bite of black flies. The invasion of the infection into the human body results in the forming of scar tissue in the skin and eyes. Although it can cause blindness, it usually is not fatal. In all, some 40 million people in Africa, Mexico, Guatemala, Venezuela, Colombia and Brazil have onchocerciasis. Researchers are still seeking safer therapies for river blindness.
Lupus: S.L.E. (systemic lupus erythematosus), or lupus for short, is a sometimes fatal disease of the immune system, affecting 500,000 to a million Americans. In lupus the body’s connective tissues, which hold together and support cells, are attacked by the body’s own immune system. The prognosis for most patients has improved in recent years, with 80 to 95 percent of patients living at least 10 years after diagnosis. As yet, however, there is no known cure for lupus.
Snail Fever: Already afflicting an estimated 200 million people in 71 countries, snail fever (schistosomiasis) is spreading rapidly. Humans become infected by bathing or swimming in water in which there are snails containing the schistosomiasis parasite. Once inside a human host, the parasite’s eggs can do serious damage to the bladder and liver, often proving fatal. The control of snail fever remains difficult (especially in poorer countries), for this depends largely on the proper disposal of wastes.
Malaria: Caused by the bite of female Anopheles mosquitoes, malaria is an ancient affliction. Once eradicated in countries like India and Sri Lanka, in recent years malaria has made a devastating comeback! Each year, in Africa, it kills a million children under the age of five. Additionally, more than 150 million people worldwide now suffer the chills, fever and other symptoms of malaria. Researchers are still searching for a vaccine against it.
Venereal Diseases: The availability of penicillin gave false confidence to a permissive society. Now a penicillin-resistant form of gonorrhea has been spreading.
A newcomer is genital herpes, said to affect some 20 million people in the United States alone. It is caused by a virus and is usually transmitted by sexual contact. Similarly, the new disease AIDS is spreading rapidly among homosexuals and others. Experts consider it one of the most deadly epidemics. There are no known cures for genital herpes and AIDS.
Multiple Sclerosis: A disease of the central nervous system—the brain and spinal cord—multiple sclerosis afflicts some 500,000 people in the United States alone. It usually strikes its victims during their 20’s and 30’s. The long list of symptoms includes numbness, loss of coordination, blurred vision, slurred speech and loss of bladder or bowel control. While much research is going on, no cure has been found.
[Picture on page 6]
Jesus was both able and willing to conquer disease