How Precious Is Your Life?
WHILE countless lives were being sacrificed in Europe during World War I, amazing efforts were being made to save lives in Antarctica. Anglo-Irish explorer Ernest Shackleton and his companions suffered catastrophe when their ship, Endurance, was crushed and sunk by pack ice. Shackleton managed to get his men to a safe haven—of sorts—on Elephant Island in the South Atlantic Ocean. But they still faced extreme danger.
Shackleton realized that their only hope of survival lay in sending for help from a whaling station on the island of South Georgia. That was 700 miles [1,100 km] away, and he had only a 22-foot [7 m] lifeboat that he had salvaged from Endurance. Their prospects were not good.
On May 10, 1916, however, after 17 harrowing days, Shackleton and a small party got to South Georgia, but terrible sea conditions forced them to land on the wrong side of the island. They were faced with a 20-mile [30 km] trek over uncharted, snow-covered mountains to reach their final destination. Against all odds—in subzero temperatures and without proper climbing equipment—Shackleton and his companions reached their destination, and he eventually rescued all his stranded men. Why did Shackleton put forth such strenuous effort? “His one ambition,” writes biographer Roland Huntford, was “to get every one of his men out alive.”
“Not One of Them Is Missing”
What saved Shackleton’s men from complete despair as they huddled and waited on what was just “a bleak and inaccessible patch of rock and ice twenty miles [30 km] from end to end”? Their confidence that their leader would keep his promise to rescue them.
Mankind today is much like those men marooned on Elephant Island. Many live under unbelievably adverse conditions and struggle simply to survive. Yet, they can have complete confidence that God will “rescue the afflicted one” from oppression and distress. (Job 36:15) Be assured that God considers everyone’s life precious. “Call me in the day of distress,” says Jehovah God, the Creator, and “I shall rescue you.”—Psalm 50:15.
Do you find it difficult to believe that the Creator considers you—just one individual among earth’s billions—personally precious? Then note what the prophet Isaiah wrote about the billions of stars in the billions of galaxies in the vast universe around us. We read: “Raise your eyes high up and see. Who has created these things? It is the One who is bringing forth the army of them even by number, all of whom he calls even by name. Due to the abundance of dynamic energy, he also being vigorous in power, not one of them is missing.”—Isaiah 40:26.
Do you appreciate what that means? Our Milky Way galaxy—of which our solar system is only a part—contains at least 100 billion stars. And how many other galaxies are there? No one knows for sure, but some estimates put the figure at 125 billion. What a staggering number of stars there must be! Yet, the Bible tells us that the Creator of the universe knows each of the stars by name.
“The Very Hairs of Your Head Are All Numbered”
‘But,’ someone may object, ‘just knowing the names of billions of stars—or billions of people—does not necessarily mean caring about them individually.’ A computer with sufficient memory could register the names of billions of people. Yet, no one would suggest that the computer cares about any of them. The Bible shows, however, that Jehovah God not only knows the names of billions of people but also cares about them as individuals. “Throw all your anxiety upon him,” wrote the apostle Peter, “because he cares for you.”—1 Peter 5:7.
Jesus Christ stated: “Do not two sparrows sell for a coin of small value? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground without your Father’s knowledge. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Therefore have no fear: you are worth more than many sparrows.” (Matthew 10:29-31) Notice that Jesus did not say that God would simply be aware of what happened to sparrows and to men. He said: “You are worth more than many sparrows.” Why are you worth more? Because you are made “in God’s image”—with the potential for cultivating and displaying moral, intellectual, and spiritual qualities that reflect God’s own elevated qualities.—Genesis 1:26, 27.
“The Product of Intelligent Activity”
Do not be misled by the assertions of people who deny that there is a Creator. According to them, blind, impersonal forces of nature made you. They claim that far from being made “in God’s image,” you are no different from all the other animal life on this planet—including the sparrows.
Does it really make sense to you that life got here simply by chance, or blind force? According to molecular biologist Michael J. Behe, the “staggeringly complicated biochemical processes” that govern life make that idea totally unreasonable. The evidence of biochemistry, he says, leads to the inescapable conclusion that “life on earth at its most fundamental level . . . is the product of intelligent activity.”—Darwin’s Black Box—The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution.
The Bible tells us that life on earth at all levels is the product of intelligent activity. And it tells us that the Source of all this intelligent activity is Jehovah God, the Creator of the universe.—Psalm 36:9; Revelation 4:11.
Do not let the fact that we have to endure in a world filled with pain and suffering dissuade you from believing that there is a Creator and Designer of the earth and all life on it. Keep in mind two fundamental truths. One is that God did not design the imperfection that exists all around us. The other is that our Creator has good reasons for temporarily permitting it. As this magazine has often discussed, Jehovah God has permitted evil to exist for a limited time only in order to settle once and for all the moral issues that were raised at the time when humans first rejected his sovereignty.*—Genesis 3:1-7; Deuteronomy 32:4, 5; Ecclesiastes 7:29; 2 Peter 3:8, 9.
“He Will Deliver the Poor One Crying for Help”
Of course, even with the miserable conditions that many people have to suffer today, life is still a wonderful gift. And we do all we can to preserve it. The future life that God promises is much more than a struggle simply to survive in harsh and painful conditions—like Shackleton’s men on Elephant Island. God’s purpose is to rescue us from our current existence of pain and futility so that we can “get a firm hold on the real life” that God originally purposed for his human creation.—1 Timothy 6:19.
God will do all of this because each one of us is precious in his eyes. He arranged for his Son, Jesus Christ, to provide the ransom sacrifice needed to free us from the sin, imperfection, and death that we inherited from our original parents, Adam and Eve. (Matthew 20:28) “God loved the world so much,” said Jesus Christ, “that he gave his only-begotten Son, in order that everyone exercising faith in him might . . . have everlasting life.”—John 3:16.
What will God do for those whose life is now blighted by pain and oppression? Regarding his Son, God’s inspired Word tells us: “He will deliver the poor one crying for help, also the afflicted one and whoever has no helper. He will feel sorry for the lowly one and the poor one, and the souls of the poor ones he will save. From oppression and from violence he will redeem their soul.” Why will he do this? Because “their blood [or, their life] will be precious in his eyes.”—Psalm 72:12-14.
For centuries humanity has been toiling under the burden of sin and imperfection, as if “groaning” in much pain and suffering. God only permitted this with the knowledge that he could remedy any damage that would ensue. (Romans 8:18-22) Very soon now he will bring about the “restoration of all things” through the agency of his Kingdom government in the hands of his Son, Jesus Christ.—Acts 3:21; Matthew 6:9, 10.
That includes the resurrection of people who have suffered and died in the past. They are safe in God’s memory. (John 5:28, 29; Acts 24:15) Soon they will receive life “in abundance”—everlasting life in perfection on a paradise earth free from pain and suffering. (John 10:10; Revelation 21:3-5) Everyone living will be able to enjoy life to the full and cultivate the wonderful qualities and abilities that mark those who are made “in God’s image.”
Will you be on hand to enjoy the life that Jehovah has promised? That is up to you. We urge you to avail yourself of the provisions that God has made to bring about all these blessings. The publishers of this magazine will be happy to help you to do so.
For a detailed discussion of this point, see chapter 8, “Why Does God Permit Suffering?” in the book Knowledge That Leads to Everlasting Life, published by Jehovah’s Witnesses.
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The stranded men were confident that Shackleton would keep his promise to rescue them
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“You are worth more than many sparrows”