Archives for category: Awake

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BILLIONS of people have read or heard what the Bible says about the beginning of the universe. The 3,500-year-old account starts with the well-known statement: “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.”

Many people, however, are unaware of the fact that Christendom’s leaders, including so-called creationists and fundamentalists, have spun the Bible account of creation into numerous tales that deviate from what the Bible really says. These interpretations fly in the face of scientific fact. Even though those tales are not found in the Bible, they have caused some people to dismiss the Bible account as mythical allegory.

The real Bible story of creation has gone largely unnoticed. This is a shame, for the Bible actually presents a very logical and credible explanation of the beginning of the universe. What is more, that explanation harmonizes with scientific discovery. Yes, you might be pleasantly surprised by the Bible’s untold story of creation!

THE UNCREATED CREATOR

Infinity

The Bible account of creation hinges on the fact that there is a Supreme Being, Almighty God, who created all things. Who is he, and what is his nature? The Bible reveals that he is quite different from the deities found in popular culture and mainstream religion. He is the Creator of all things, but most people know very little about him.

  • God is a person, an individual. He is not a vague force devoid of personality, floating aimlessly throughout the universe. He has thoughts, feelings, and goals.

  • God has infinite power and wisdom. This explains the complex design found everywhere in creation, especially in living things.

  • God created all physical matter. Hence, he cannot be made of physical elements that he himself has created. Rather, he is of a spiritual, or nonphysical, nature.

  • God’s existence is not limited by time. He has always existed and will always exist. Hence, no one created him.

  • God has a personal name, which is used thousands of times in the Bible. That name is Jehovah.

  • Jehovah God loves and cares for humans.

 HOW LONG DID GOD TAKE TO CREATE THE UNIVERSE?

Face of a clock

The Bible states that God created “the heavens and the earth.” This broad statement, however, makes no reference to the length of time involved in creating the universe or to the methods he used to shape it. What about the widespread creationist belief that God created the universe in six literal 24-hour days? This concept, widely rejected by scientists, is based on a gross misunderstanding of the Bible account. Consider what the Bible really says.

The Bible does not support fundamentalists and creationists who claim that the creative days were literal 24-hour days

  • The Bible does not support fundamentalists and creationists who claim that the creative days were literal 24-hour days.

  • The Bible frequently uses the term “day” to designate various periods of time. In some cases these periods are of an unspecified length. The account of creation found in the Bible book of Genesis is one example of this.

  • In the Bible account, each of the six creative days could have lasted for thousands of years.

  • God had already created the universe, including a lifeless planet Earth, by the time the first creative day began.

  • Evidently the six creative days were long periods during which Jehovah God prepared the earth for human habitation.

  • The Bible account of creation does not conflict with scientific conclusions about the age of the universe.

DID GOD USE EVOLUTION?

Theoretical process of evolution

Many who do not believe in the Bible embrace the theory that living things emerged from lifeless chemicals through unknown and mindless processes. Supposedly, at some point a bacteria-like, self-replicating organism arose, gradually branching out into all the species that exist today. This would imply that ultimately the mind-bogglingly complex human actually evolved from bacteria.

The theory of evolution is also embraced by many who claim to accept the Bible as the word of God. They believe that God produced the first burst of life on earth but then simply monitored, and perhaps steered, the process of evolution. That, however, is not what the Bible says.

The Bible account of creation does not conflict with the scientific observation that variations occur within a kind

  • According to the Bible, Jehovah God created all the basic kinds of plant and animal life, as well as a perfect man and woman who were capable of self-awareness, love, wisdom, and justice.

  • The kinds of animals and plants created by God have obviously undergone changes and have produced variations within the kinds. In many cases, the resulting life-forms are remarkably different from one another.

  • The Bible account of creation does not conflict with the scientific observation that variations occur within a kind.

 A CREATOR PERCEIVED IN CREATION

In the mid-1800’s, British biologist Alfred Russel Wallace agreed with Charles Darwin on the theory of evolution by natural selection. But even this renowned evolutionist is said to have stated: “For those who have eyes to see and minds accustomed to reflect, in the minutest cells, in the blood, in the whole earth, and throughout the stellar universe . . . , there is intelligent and conscious direction; in a word, there is Mind.”

Almost two thousand years before Wallace, the Bible had already observed: “For [God’s] invisible qualities are clearly seen from the world’s creation onward, because they are perceived by the things made, even his eternal power and Godship.” (Romans 1:20) From time to time, you might want to take a moment to reflect on the marvelous complexities found in nature—from a single blade of grass to the countless heavenly bodies. By examining creation you can perceive the Creator.

‘But if there is a loving God who created all things,’ you may ask, ‘why would he permit suffering? Has he abandoned his earthly creation? What does the future hold?’ The Bible contains many other untold stories—truths that have been buried under human ideas and religious agendas and, therefore, hidden from most people. The publishers of this magazine, Jehovah’s Witnesses, would be happy to help you examine unadulterated Bible truth and learn more about the Creator and the future of his human creation.

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“I felt like a mouse running on a treadwheel and getting nowhere. I often worked 16-hour days with rarely a weekend off. I felt angry because I only ever saw my little girl asleep. Stress was making me sick.”—Kari, Finland.

KARI’S experience is not unusual. According to a mental-health charity in the United Kingdom, 1 in 5 British workers said that stress had made them physically ill during their career, and unmanageable pressure had caused 1 in 4 to cry while at work. Prescriptions for antidepressants saw an unprecedented rise during one recent year of economic recession.

What has caused you stress?

  • Insecurity—financial or otherwise

  • A demanding routine

  • Interpersonal conflicts

  • A traumatic experience

How has stress affected you?

  • Health disorders

  • Emotional exhaustion

  • Sleep problems

  • Depression

  • Deteriorating relationships

 Stress activates an amazing system in your body—your emergency response system. Hormones are released to increase your breathing, heart rate, and blood pressure. In addition, reserves of blood cells and glucose flood into your bloodstream. This cascade of reactions prepares you to deal with the stressor, the stimulus causing the stress. After the stressor has passed, your body may return to normal. But when a stressor remains, it can leave you chronically anxious or tense, like a motor that stays revved up. So learning how to deal with stress is important to both your physical and your mental well-being.

Managing Stress

Stress in itself is not necessarily harmful. The American Psychological Association has noted: “Stress is to the human condition what tension is to the violin string: too little and the music is dull and raspy; too much and the music is shrill or the string snaps. Stress can be the kiss of death or the spice of life. The issue, really, is how to manage it.”

Adding another dimension, people vary in temperament and general health. So what stresses one person may not stress another. That said, you are likely overstressed if your regular routine makes you so tense that you cannot relax or deal with the occasional emergency.

To help them “cope” with chronic stress, some people turn to alcohol, drugs, or tobacco. Others begin abnormal eating patterns or sit passively in front of a TV or computer—habits that do not address the underlying problem but may, in fact, exacerbate it. How, then, can we learn to manage stress effectively?

Many people have been able to manage life’s stresses by applying the practical advice found in the Bible. Could its tried-and-tested wisdom help you? Consider that question in the light of four common causes of stress.

 1 INSECURITY

A daughter confiding in her mother

Not one of us has total security. As the Bible states, “time and unexpected events overtake [us] all.” (Ecclesiastes 9:11) How can you cope with feelings of insecurity? Try these suggestions.

  • Confide in a trusted family member or friend. Studies show that the support of loved ones consistently confers protection against stress-related disorders. Yes, “a true friend shows love at all times, and is a brother who is born for times of distress.”—Proverbs 17:17.

  • Do not continually focus on worst-case scenarios. Such thinking does little more than drain emotional reserves. And what you fear may not happen! For good reason, the Bible says: “Never be anxious about the next day, for the next day will have its own anxieties.”—Matthew 6:34.

  • Tap into the power of prayer. “Throw all your anxiety on [God], because he cares for you,” says 1 Peter 5:7. God shows his care by giving us inner peace and by assuring us that he “will never abandon” those who sincerely turn to him for comfort and support in times of need.—Hebrews 13:5; Philippians 4:6, 7.

2 DEMANDING ROUTINE

A businessman running on a cog in a machine

A relentless routine of commuting, working, studying, or caring for children or elderly parents can keep stress levels high. Moreover, stopping some of these activities may be out of the question. (1 Timothy 5:8) What, then, can you do to cope?

  • Try to give yourself some downtime, and get adequate rest. The Bible says: “Better is a handful of rest than two handfuls of hard work and chasing after the wind.”—Ecclesiastes 4:6.

  • Set sound priorities, and adopt a modest lifestyle. (Philippians 1:10) Consider simplifying your life, perhaps by reducing expenses or time spent at work.—Luke 21:34, 35.

Kari, mentioned earlier, took a fresh look at his life. “I realized that I was pursuing a selfish lifestyle,” he wrote. He sold his business and took on work that gave him more time at home. “Our standard of living has dropped a little,” he admits, “but my wife and I are now free of constant stress, and we have more time to spend with family and friends. I would not trade the inner peace I now have for any business opportunity.”

 3 INTERPERSONAL CONFLICTS

Two men settling a difference

Conflicts with others, especially in the workplace, can be very stressful. If you experience such difficulties, you have a number of options that might help.

  • When someone upsets you, try to stay calm. Do not add fuel to the fire. “A mild answer turns away rage, but a harsh word stirs up anger,” says Proverbs 15:1.

  • Try to settle differences privately and respectfully, thus dignifying the other person.—Matthew 5:23-25.

  • Try to gain insight into his or her feelings and viewpoint. Such insight “slows down [our] anger” because it puts us in the other person’s shoes. (Proverbs 19:11) It can also help us to see ourselves through the other person’s eyes.

  • Try to forgive. Forgiveness is not only beautiful. It is also good medicine. As reported in a 2001 study, “unforgiving thoughts” resulted in “significantly higher” blood pressure and heart rate, whereas a forgiving attitude reduced stress.—Colossians 3:13.

4 TRAUMATIC EVENTS

A woman giving of her time to help another woman

Nieng, who lives in Cambodia, suffered a string of tragedies. In 1974, she was injured when a bomb exploded at an airport. The following year, her two children, her mother, and her husband all died. In the year 2000, her home and other belongings were destroyed by fire, and three years later, her second husband died. At that point, she wanted to end her life.

“Better is a handful of rest than two handfuls of hard work”

Yet, Nieng found a way to cope. Like Kari, she examined the Bible and benefited so much from what she learned that she, in turn, devoted time to helping others enjoy the same benefits. Her story calls to mind a 2008 study by British researchers. One way to develop “resilience in the face of stress,” they found, was to “give in some way . . . to others”—advice that has long been espoused in the Bible.—Acts 20:35.

Additionally, Nieng gained a sure hope for a better future, one in which all the problems that plague mankind will be gone. Instead, “peace will abound” earth wide.—Psalm 72:7, 8.

A genuine hope and the wisdom to cope with life’s many stresses are both priceless, and both can be found in the pages of the Bible. Millions have already benefited from this remarkable and unique book. You can too.


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Stress can actually be useful, but only if it is managed properly.


“Throw all your anxiety on [God], because he cares for you.”—1 PETER 5:7.

Death can seem preferable to life when you feel that there is nothing you can do to improve your situation. But consider some avenues of help that are available to you.

Prayer. Prayer is not merely some psychological crutch; nor is it a last resort for desperate souls. It is real communication with Jehovah God, who cares about you. Jehovah wants you to tell him your concerns. In fact, the Bible urges us: “Throw your burden on Jehovah, and he will sustain you.”—Psalm 55:22.

Why not talk to God in prayer today? Use his name, Jehovah, and speak from your heart. (Psalm 62:8) Jehovah wants you to come to know him as a friend. (Isaiah 55:6; James 2:23) Prayer is an avenue of communication that can become available to you anytime, anywhere.

According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, “studies have consistently found that the overwhelming majority of people who die by suicide—90% or more—had a mental disorder at the time of their deaths. Often, however, these disorders had not been recognized, diagnosed, or adequately treated”

People who care. Your life matters to others—including your family members or friends who may already have expressed concern for you. People who care also include some whom you may never have met. For example, at times in their ministry, Jehovah’s Witnesses encounter distraught people, some of whom have admitted that they were desperate for help and had considered ending their life. The door-to-door ministry has given Jehovah’s Witnesses a unique opportunity to help such people. Following Jesus’ example, Jehovah’s Witnesses care about their fellowman. They care about you.John 13:35.

Professional assistance. Suicidal thoughts often indicate the presence of a mood disorder, such as clinical depression. There is nothing to be ashamed of if you suffer from an emotional illness—any more than if you suffered from a physical illness. In fact, depression has been called “the common cold of the mind.” Just about anyone can get it—and it can be treated. *

REMEMBER THIS: It is usually not possible to climb out of a deep pit of depression by yourself. With a helping hand, however, you can succeed.

WHAT YOU CAN DO TODAY: Seek out a reputable physician who treats mood disorders such as depression.


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“The meek will possess the earth, and they will find exquisite delight in the abundance of peace.”—PSALM 37:11.

The Bible acknowledges that life is “filled with trouble.” (Job 14:1) Today, everyone is touched by tragedy of one sort or another. But some people feel utterly hopeless about life, as if there were no light on the horizon, no prospect for a better future. Is that how you feel? If so, be assured that the Bible offers genuine hope—not just for you but for all humankind. For example:

  • The Bible teaches that Jehovah God intended something far better for us.—Genesis 1:28.

  • Jehovah God promises to make our earth a paradise.—Isaiah 65:21-25.

  • The fulfillment of that promise is certain. Revelation 21:3, 4 says:

    “The tent of God is with mankind, and he will reside with them, and they will be his people. And God himself will be with them. And he will wipe out every tear from their eyes, and death will be no more, neither will mourning nor outcry nor pain be anymore. The former things have passed away.”

That hope is not mere wishful thinking. Jehovah God fully purposes to bring it to reality, and he has both the power and the desire to do so. The hope that the Bible holds out is reliable, and it provides a strong answer to the question “Why go on?”

REMEMBER THIS: Although your emotions may toss and turn like a boat on a turbulent sea, the Bible’s message of hope can be like an anchor that keeps you stabilized.

WHAT YOU CAN DO TODAY: Start investigating what the Bible teaches about a genuine hope for the future. Jehovah’s Witnesses will be glad to help you. You can contact them locally or find valuable information at their Web site, jw.org. *


“We are hard-pressed in every way, but not cramped beyond movement; we are perplexed, but not absolutely with no way out.”—2 CORINTHIANS 4:8.

Suicide has been called “a permanent solution to a temporary problem.” As hard as it may be to believe, a distressing circumstance—even one that seems beyond your control—may well be temporary. In fact, it can change for the better unexpectedly.—See the box  “Their Circumstances Changed.”

Even if that does not happen, it is best to tackle your problems one day at a time. “Never be anxious about the next day,” Jesus said, “for the next day will have its own anxieties. Each day has enough of its own troubles.”—Matthew 6:34.

But what if your circumstance cannot change? For example, suppose you have a chronic illness. Or what if your despair is the result of an irreversible situation, such as the breakup of a marriage or the death of a loved one?

Even in such cases, there is something you can change: your outlook on the situation. By learning to accept what you cannot change, you become more likely to view things from a more positive standpoint. (Proverbs 15:15) You are also more likely to look for ways to cope with the situation rather than resort to drastic means to end it. The result? You start to take a measure of control of what seems to be an uncontrollable situation.—Job 2:10.

REMEMBER THIS: You cannot scale a mountain in a single step; however, you can take on the challenge one step at a time. The same is true of most obstacles you face, no matter how mountainlike they might seem to be.

WHAT YOU CAN DO TODAY: Talk to someone—perhaps a friend or a family member—about your situation. That person may be able to help you view your situation in a more balanced way.—Proverbs 11:14.


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IF YOU met Diana, * you would find her to be an intelligent, friendly, and gregarious young woman. But beneath Diana’s charming exterior lurks a crippling despair that leaves her feeling utterly worthless for days, weeks, or even months at a time. “Not a day goes by that I don’t think about dying,” she says. “I truly believe that the world would be a better place without me.”

“Some studies have shown that for every death by suicide, 200 people have attempted suicide and 400 [other] people have thought about it.”—THE GAZETTE, MONTREAL, CANADA.

Diana says that she would never kill herself. Still, at times she sees little point in going on with life. “My greatest wish is to be killed in an accident,” she says. “I’ve come to view death as a friend—not an enemy.”

Many people can relate to Diana’s feelings, and some of them have contemplated—or attempted—suicide. Experts point out, however, that most people who try to kill themselves do not really want to end their life; they merely want to end their suffering. In short, they believe that they have a reason to die; what they need is a reason to live.

Why go on? Consider three reasons to keep living.