Monday, November 03, 2014

It's Her Choice...Or is it?

Brittney Maynard chose to end her life this past weekend.  She was diagnosed last spring with stage 4 glioblastoma.  No doubt she struggled a lot with pain in her final days.  She made headlines because she chose to take advantage of Oregon’s “Death With Dignity” law.   From a purely human perspective I understand.  I also empathize to a degree because I have dealt with my share of physical pain.  I can understand why she would just want it to end.  Who wouldn’t?
Humans hate pain and suffering.  Our first reaction to it is to ask “How can I get out of it?”  I know. I have been there before.  As a follower of Jesus Christ however, I have discovered that sometimes God chooses to walk with you through it.  Sadly we don’t often learn or grow as much in the easy and smooth times of life.
Suffering brings growth.  The Apostle Paul understood this.  He wrote “That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death;” (Philippians 3:10) 
Paul in fact takes it a step further.  Not only does suffering bring growth, it can be a tool that God uses to increase our effectiveness for Christ. And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure. For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me.
And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.” (2 Corinthians 12:7-10)
Is suffering fun and enjoyable?  Absolutely not.  But I wish with all my heart that Brittney had known the Lord and allowed Him to work though her situation.  God is good all the time.  If you are suffering today I hope you will trust Jesus to walk you though it.
As I was looking through the social media response to this story the same refrain leapt off the page time and time again. “It’s her choice.”  Is it?  I think the answer to this question is the crux of the matter. 
If you believe that we are here by chance, the product of millions of years of evolution, and merely the most advanced member of the animal kingdom, it could be easy to make this determination.  After all, if I am here by chance and my life doesn’t have a purpose, ending my life (especially in the face of suffering) is a perfectly logical conclusion.
I am so glad that the Word of God shatters that lie with this truth “And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.” (Genesis 1:26-27)  We were made in the image God.  I know that we who are followers of Christ know this in our heads, but how often do we really step back to consider the ramifications of this amazing fact?
Not only are we made in the image of God, but if we are believers we are bought with Christ’s precious blood.  When we trusted Him, we surrendered control of our lives to Him. “What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's.” (I Corinthians 6:19-20)  He paid for us, so it is up to Him to direct our lives and determine the time of our death.
This leads us to the understanding that God has a plan and purpose for each of our lives. “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.” (Ephesians 2:10)     Since I came to understand this truth, I have seen God do amazing things in my life.
In closing, let me just say that I understand that no end of life issues are easy.  No one wants to suffer or to see suffering in the lives of their loved ones.  My prayer for you is that you will realize that God never promised us that life would be easy, but he did promise “I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.” (Hebrews 13:5)  He always keeps his promises!

Andrew Gommesen


Naomi said...

A tough topic to write about. Great job bringing up important questions and thoughts.

Laurel said...

Well said, Andrew! I've often reflected on that passage from 2 Corinthians, too. It's so applicable to anyone who is suffering--and we've all experienced it to some extent. It's a comfort to know that suffering is not in vain! Thanks for speaking hope and truth in the aftermath of Brittney's heartbreaking story.