Finding real hope in times of trouble

‘In times like these, we need hope more than ever. Hope helps a person look ahead with courage and confidence to the fulfillment of God’s beautiful promises,’ said Robert Hendriks, U.S. spokesman for Jehovah’s Witnesses. Pictured is St. Petersburg resident, Mildred Hernandez.

ST. PETERSBURG — Completely demolished! That’s how the front of the scooter looked. The pieces were collected in a big trash bag. More important than the condition of the scooter, St. Petersburg resident, Mildred Hernandez, wasn’t sure if her son would live or die. The accident had happened in the blink of an eye, leaving in its wake a traumatic brain injury, broken bones, and shattered dreams.

As her son lay with tubes in his brain and a machine to help him breathe, his path forward was uncertain. It would be four long months before her son could return home. “It just took a toll on everyone’s well-being emotionally,” related Hernandez, a retired hospice nurse who always tries to stay positive about her son’s continuing rehabilitation.

Since her son’s accident, Hernandez has clung tighter than ever to the hope from the Scriptures that she’s cherished since becoming one of Jehovah’s Witnesses some 38 years ago. She looks forward to “a new world where sickness, death, sorrow, mourning, all the bad things that impact us today in a negative way will be done away with.”

Like Hernandez, others too have found that a positive hope for the future helps them cope with challenging health circumstances.

Shirley Irizarry

Shirley Irizarry could barely breathe as she sat alone in a St. Petersburg emergency room, worried about her family.

It had only been a few days since Irizarry’s family all tested positive for COVID-19, and her health deteriorated quickly. Now, an added pneumonia diagnosis would further limit her ability to care for her husband and two young children.

“I really felt helpless,” said Irizarry, who works as a medical assistant. For weeks, she simultaneously battled her own health issues while she fought to care for her ailing family. The effects of the virus left the 36-year-old physically and emotionally fatigued.

To combat negative feelings, Irizarry drew ever closer to the promises found in the Scriptures. “I feel grateful and blessed,” said Irizarry, of the guidance from the Bible that helped her endure challenges and stay focused on the future.

The public is invited to the annual Memorial observance of Jesus Christ’s death on the evening of Friday, April 15.

“We’re overjoyed to be able to come together again in person at this very special time,” said Robert Hendriks, U.S. spokesman for Jehovah’s Witnesses. “This event takes on a new dimension as we return to our Kingdom Halls and invite our neighbors to join us. It’s very exciting!”

Congregations will also offer a videoconferencing option for all congregants and visitors. Admission to both programs is free, and no registration is required. Information on attending locally is available at

“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 this special program can be life-changing.”

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