SYRACUSE - Life changed for John Clark of Central Square, in November of 2016. He was diagnosed with cancer. One month later, surgeons removed half of his colon. In 2019, he found out the cancer spread to his liver, making his diagnosis stage four metastatic colon cancer.
Since then, the 55-year-old has undergone aggressive treatment. He estimated that he’s had 40 chemotherapy infusions, with more to come.
This takes both a physical and mental toll on Clark. “I know that I’m in for a rough time,” he said about the stress he feels leading up to his treatment appointments. “After the last infusion, I felt sick to my stomach for an entire week.”
Regarding his circumstances, Clark said, “I’m just not willing to let it get me down.” One of the things that helps him remain positive is the hope from the Bible that he’s treasured his entire life as one of Jehovah’s Witnesses.
“Like anybody who has ever gone through a serious health crisis, I need something to help me to cope with it. We need to have hope that things can get better,” Clark said. “My hope for the future is what keeps me going.”
This spring, Clark joins millions of Witnesses worldwide, including the nearly 70,000 in New York, inviting all to hear about that hope in a Bible-based lecture held during the week of April 4.
“The Bible describes a future without pain, without suffering — even without death, right here on earth,” said Robert Hendriks, U.S. spokesman for Jehovah’s Witnesses. “While many religious people look to a better future in a heavenly place, God’s original purpose has never changed: perfect people living in a paradise on earth. While it is difficult to conceive, there’s sound reason to have faith in this promise.”
Faith in that coming reality proved life-changing for Las Vegas teen Hailey-Ann Seavey.
By her sophomore year of high school, painful memories of past trauma left Seavey unable to envision a future worth living for. “I kept cycling through the same negative feelings over and over,” she said. “I thought, ‘If this is how my life is going to be, what’s the point?’”
Seavey confided in a classmate, who comforted her with the Bible’s promise of a future time when pains of the past will plague no one.
Hope began to rise in Seavey’s heart. She started an in-depth study of the Bible and accepted her schoolmate’s invitation to attend congregation meetings of Jehovah’s Witnesses; soon, she was sharing her newfound hope with others.
“Learning what the Bible teaches gave me something to look forward to,” said Seavey, now 18. “I feel refreshed and uplifted, and I want others to have that too.”
Mike O’Connell, 70, of Marietta, Ga., finds comfort in the same Bible promises.
His wife, Dee, contracted COVID-19 last year while hospitalized with a stroke and died just days before their 39th wedding anniversary. “I miss everything about her,” said O’Connell.
Picturing how he will welcome her back in the global resurrection to life on earth as described in Scripture helps O’Connell endure the pain of Dee’s absence.
“I have no doubt I’ll see her again,” he said. “Staying focused on that time keeps my hope alive.”
The 30-minute program “Where Can You Find Real Hope?” will be hosted worldwide by congregations of Jehovah’s Witnesses. The public is also invited the following week to the annual Memorial observance of Jesus Christ’s death on the evening of Friday, April 15. Both gatherings will be held in person at local Kingdom Halls with live speakers.
Admission to both programs is free, and no registration is required. Information on attending locally is available at www.jw.org.
“In times like these, we need hope more than ever,” said Hendriks. “Hope helps a person look ahead with courage and confidence to the fulfillment of God’s beautiful promises. That’s why attending one of these special programs can be life-changing.”