“Impossible!”​—What Does It Mean?

THE Titanic, launched in 1912, was the largest and most luxurious ocean liner of its time. Because of its advanced scientific design, the vessel was considered “unsinkable.” What happened, of course, is history. On its maiden voyage, it struck an iceberg in the North Atlantic and sank, taking down with it some 1,500 of its passengers. The ship that was said to be impossible to sink vanished in the depths of the ocean in just a few hours.

The word “impossible” can mean a number of things. We may describe something as impossible in the sense that we feel it is beyond our ability to cope with, to accomplish, or to understand. Many of today’s technological accomplishments were at one time viewed as impossible because at the time, those things were beyond the ability of man to do or even to foresee. Putting a man on the moon, sending a vehicle to Mars and controlling it from Earth, mapping the human genetic code, and seeing a news event as it happens across town or across the globe​—these are realities now that may have been described as impossible even just 50 years ago. The matter was well summarized by former U.S. President Ronald Reagan in an address to a group of leading figures in various fields of science: “You, on the cutting edge of technology, have already made yesterday’s impossibilities the commonplace realities of today.”

In view of the many astounding developments taking place, Professor John Brobeck observed: “A scientist is no longer able to say honestly something is impossible. He can only say it is improbable. But he may be able to say something is impossible to explain in terms of our present knowledge.” If something appears impossible to us, the professor went on to say, “one thing that needs to be added is a source of energy unknown to us in our biological and physiological sciences. In our Scriptures this source of energy is identified as the power of God.”

 All Things Are Possible With God

Long before this observation was made by Professor Brobeck, Jesus of Nazareth, who has been described as the greatest man who ever lived, said: “The things impossible with men are possible with God.” (Luke 18:27) God’s holy spirit is the most powerful force in the universe. It cannot be measured in any technological way. Holy spirit can enable us to do things that are impossible in our own strength.

As humans, we often find ourselves in situations that we feel are impossible to deal with. For example, we may lose a loved one in death or our family life may become so stressful that we feel we cannot continue. Perhaps our way of life has taken us to the depths of despair and we feel there is no way out. We feel helpless and desperate. What can we do?

The Bible tells us that a person who has faith in the Almighty and prays for His holy spirit while doing everything possible to please Him can receive help to overcome seemingly insurmountable obstacles. Note Jesus’ reassuring words: “Truly I say to you that whoever tells this mountain, ‘Be lifted up and thrown into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart but has faith that what he says is going to occur, he will have it so.” (Mark 11:23) There is no situation that is impossible to bear or cope with if we allow the power of God’s Word and his spirit to influence our life.

Consider, for example, a man who had been married for 38 years and lost his wife to cancer. He was shattered. He felt that his situation was impossible to live with. There were times when he wanted to die rather than continue without her. He said that he felt that he was going through a valley of deep shadow. Looking back, he believes that his tearful prayers and daily Bible reading, as well as his earnestly seeking the direction of God’s spirit, helped him to cope with what he had thought was impossible.

The marriage of one couple was headed for disaster. The husband was violent and had many bad habits. Life seemed impossible for his wife. She attempted suicide. Then the husband began to study the Bible with Jehovah’s Witnesses. What he learned helped him conquer his bad habits and violent temper. His wife was amazed at the “impossible” changes.

Another man describes his life of drugs and immorality as the pit of despair. “I lost all dignity,” he says. He earnestly prayed to God: “Lord, I know that you exist. Please help me!” His prayer led to a study of the Bible with Jehovah’s Witnesses and, in turn, to unbelievable changes in his life. “I have often been plagued by feelings of guilt and a lack of self-worth,” he says. “At times I have been extremely low in spirits. Yet, God’s Word has helped me to fight these disturbing feelings. During sleepless nights, I would recite to myself Scriptural passages that I had learned. This mental housecleaning is especially helpful.” He is now a happily married man. He and his wife are very active in helping others to have confidence in the power of God’s Word. As a troubled young man, he would have considered his present life impossible.

These experiences demonstrate that God’s Word is indeed powerful and that his holy spirit can accomplish “impossible” things in our lives. But you may say, “That takes faith!” Yes, that is true. In fact, the Bible says that “without faith it is impossible to please [God] well.” (Hebrews 11:6) But think of it this way: A good friend, perhaps a bank manager  or someone in authority, tells you: “You must not worry. If you are ever in need of anything, just come to me.” No doubt you would be comforted by such a promise. But, sadly, humans often fail us. Perhaps your friend comes into circumstances that make it impossible for him to fulfill his well-intentioned promise. Should your friend die, then all his good will and ability to help would come to an abrupt end. On the other hand, none of the things that can happen to humans can have any effect on God. The Bible assures us: “Nothing is impossible to God.”​Luke 1:37, The Jerusalem Bible.

“Do You Believe This?”

Numerous events that attest to the truthfulness of that last statement are recorded in the Bible. Consider some examples.

A 90-year-old woman named Sarah laughed when she was told that she would give birth to a son, but the existence of the Israelite people is proof that she did. A man was swallowed by a large fish, survived the three-day experience, and lived to write his own story. His name was Jonah. Luke, a doctor who knew the difference between a state of unconsciousness and death, records how Eutychus, a young man, fell from the window of an upper room and died but was brought back to life. These are not fables. A careful examination of each of these accounts will verify their authenticity.​—Genesis 18:10-14; 21:1, 2; Jonah 1:17; 2:1, 10; Acts 20:9-12.

To his friend Martha, Jesus made this astonishing statement: “Everyone that is living and exercises faith in me will never die at all.” To this seemingly impossible promise, Jesus added this soul-searching question: “Do you believe this?” That question is still valid today for our careful consideration.​—John 11:26.

Live Forever on Earth​—Impossible?

In a paper on the legal implications of longevity, the writers make this observation: “The time may not be far away where we may be able to live much longer than we do now​—potentially forever.” The New Encyclopædia Britannica explains that rather than cellular breakdown, wear and tear, or other processes, the cause of death seems to be some undetermined factor that makes the bodily processes malfunction or shut down. * It states: “It is possible that aging in an individual is actually due to a breakdown in the control mechanisms that are required in a complex performance.”

While all of this is interesting, the Bible gives us a far stronger reason for believing in living forever than anything that logic and science might offer. Our Creator, Jehovah God, the Source of life, promises that “he will actually swallow up death forever.” (Psalm 36:9; Isaiah 25:8) Do you believe this? That promise comes from Jehovah, and it is impossible for him to lie.​—Titus 1:2.

[Footnote]

^ par. 18 For an in-depth discussion of aging and life span, see the cover series “How Long Can You Live?” in the May 2006 issue of Awake! published by Jehovah’s Witnesses.

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“Yesterday’s impossibilities [have become] the commonplace realities of today.”​—RONALD REAGAN

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When life seems impossible, to whom do you turn?

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NASA photo