From Despair To Hope
I myself am living testimony to the wisdom and power of the Bible. One of seven children, I was sexually abused as a child and my mother left our family when I was still young. I became a borderline alcoholic, a heavy smoker, a gambler and a thief. I had no respect for the law and very little time or respect for people. I did, however, think that I was a good person and father, I felt that I was justified in my negative behaviour because society was corrupt and I was not under obligation to comply with it's rules, laws and demands. I considered religion as hypocritical man-made doctrines. I had reached a point in my life where I didn't trust anyone and I was disillusioned with life in general.
When I lost my dear Father to a terrible lung disease, I was shattered. My mind turned to thoughts of suicide. There were many occasions, while sitting up alone in the night, I almost took my own life. It was only the love of my wife and children, and the thought of the pain I would inflict upon them, that kept me alive for the time being. The thing that made me despair the most was the injustices I perceived both in the world, and in my own life. I was angry and sad, most of the time and I developed severe Clinical Depression. I stopped reading newspapers because I couldn't stomach reading about yet another woman or child being slaughtered or beaten or deprived. My behaviour was erratic, selfish and reckless. I recal one drunken occasion when I ended up at a seaside town, hundreds of miles away from my home and family. I had lost all my money and had no way to get home. I wandered the streets at night and tried to pull a man from a car which had been involved in a crash, while petrol soaked the ground. As I was dong so, an onlooker cried out to me that I still had a lit cigarette in my mouth! To this day, I do not know how I survived such misadventures.
I came into contact with someone who tried to show me what the Bible had to say on the subjects of injustice, death and God. At first, I was fiercely critical, having inherited a mistrust of the Bible and a loathing of organised religion. Yet, the more I challenged what the person was telling me, the more he answered my challenges. He showed me things that I had never heard of before, things that were certainly not being taught by the mainstream religions. I soon began to realise that what he was telling me was the truth.
Once I started to dig deeper into the Bible I found answers that were logical, meaningful and satisfying. I started to change my lifestyle, perceiving that God has standards and that he knows what is best for me. The two scriptures in the Bible which had the biggest impact on me were Jesus' words in the sermon on the mount, and the words of the Apostle Paul in the first book of Corinthians. Paul wrote “I know of nothing against myself, but this alone does not make me righteous, for he that examines me is God” (1 Corinthians 4.4). I realised the truth in those words, that, it didn't matter what I thought of myself or anyone else, it was God's opinion which decided who was good or bad.
Jesus declared “Happy (or blessed) are those that mourn for they shall be comforted” when “thy (God's) will be done on earth” (Matthew 5 and 6). Jesus was promising justice and comfort, when God's kingdom comes. In the meantime, the Bible advises “Do not show yourself heated up at evildoers. Do not become envious of wicked people. For there will prove to be no future for anyone bad” (Proverbs 24.19). It also advised “Do not return evil for evil. Provide fine things in the sight of all men. If possible, as far as it depends upon you, be peaceable with all men. If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. Do not let yourself be conquered by the evil, but keep conquering the evil with the good” (Romans 12.17-21).
Along with these principles, which gave me hope for the future and a new standard by which to treat my fellow man, the Bible advises honesty, even when it costs us personally. It also recommends being tolerant and law-abiding. I learned to “Cleanse yourself of every defilement of flesh” (2 Corinthians 7.1). I realised that smoking was such a defilement, that God had given me life and I was poisoning the life in my own body and the air of those I loved. One of my biggest problems was smoking. I had smoked for many years, as had my father, who died of a lung disease. I had tried to give up many times but the addiction was too strong for me. I got to the point where I used to say “I have given up trying to give up.” But the Bible's wisdom affected me powerfully and inspired me to try again to beat this evil, disgusting, deadly habit. I relied on God's promise of help, as I applied the Bible's wisdom and attempted, for the umpteenth time, to stop smoking.
It has been over 10 years since then, and I haven't smoked a single cigarette. I read somewhere that, for every year that a smoker gives up the habit, a portion of potential life is added back on to their life. Furthermore, it is unlikely now that I will spend my later years of life fighting for breath, as my dear father did. I have known many family, friends and associates who pursued a drunken, selfish lifestyle such as the one I did. Most of them are chronically ill or dead today. Had I not listened to the Bible, I would have ended up the same. I have the wisdom of the Bible to thank for this rich reward. From the day I understood the Bible's message, I changed my life. I became one of the happiest people in the world. I would wake up glad to be alive. I was still saddened by the world around me but, now I could deal with it in perspective and, more importantly, I knew that, although we can try to make a difference in people's lives, the complete and permanent solution is something that only our creator can bring about. I spend much of my spare time sharing the Bible's wisdom with others and I have seen their lives transformed too. I no longer abuse alcohol and I obey all laws. I am honest in all my dealings and I do not hold grudges or judge others.
I have learned that God has allowed mankind the freedom to govern ourselves under all the political and religious systems imaginable. None of the them has brought true peace and security and we have instead brought this world to the brink of disaster, just as the Bible warned we would. And so, the Bible says the “Appointed times of the nations” are nearly over. Then, God will step in and undo all of the damage done throughout man's turbulant history.