While I don’t usually submit long-winded posts … this one might well be worth it for those who do not fully realize the emotional and financial hazard involved in living as though the world, as we know it, is about to end:
First let me say, Bob and Mary, I will call them, are a decent and caring couple who have been married forty or so years. They were both raised as Jehovah’s Witnesses and have consistently lived their faith. When they met Bob was heir to a small chain of retail outlets and Mary was quite enamored with the combination of spirituality and potential wealth. Upon marriage they decided not to have children so as to dedicate their time to saving others.
Over the course of decades Bob liquidated the family assets by selling off stores and limiting business hours to only those which did not interfere with their ministry. Finally, around 1990, with “this generation” about to expire Bob sold the final outlet in order to “buy out the opportune time.” They accepted a ten-year timetable for payments from the new owner, became full time pioneers, built a home, and hunkered down for the onset of “the Great Tribulation.” And indeed “tribulation” came …
After a few years Mary would suffer medical complications and incur debt due to being underinsured. Their new home cost much more than anticipated and with payments from the business sale about to end Bob was forced back into the work force, ironically working certain evenings and Saturdays, something he demonized as a shop owner.
The “rust-belt” congregation in which Bob served as an Elder began to shrink as some got elderly and others left the area to find work. Bob and Mary became the pillars of support to the dwindling flock and this too began to take an emotional toll. The year 2000 came and went and once again the “new order” was on hold. Mary, who had as a youth given up a potential modeling career now voiced doubt as to whether it was all worth it and entertained thoughts of suicide.
Then Bob was diagnosed with cancer. Though treatment put the disease into remission, to this day he suffers extreme pain as a side effect, often misses work and congregation meetings and is in need of constant pain medication. In a recent call Mary confessed that the money is gone, the house is in jeopardy, and they are both depressed only hoping that other relatives die first so that what is left of the family wealth (that wasn’t already given to the WBTS) can help cover their “golden years.” Sadly, the needy who they tended to in the congregation for many years are nowhere to be found now that the tables have turned. They have both become quite cynical.
Perhaps, by now, many are chuckling and feeling Bob and Mary have “reaped what they have sown,” yet while we grieve for the dead in Haiti, let us remember that while their bodies remain trapped and rotting in rubble, not totally of their own making, are there not living souls trapped in a rotten culture of legacy from which they cannot escape and serving a sentence of their own personal “hell.” And, like the Haitians, there may be nowhere else to go. For me, it is still sad …