Death with dignity. This is a phrase that has become a media firestorm over the past few weeks. Brittany Maynard, an Oregon woman with terminal brain cancer, recently entered the media spotlight when she announced she planned to end her life on her own terms with the help of her doctor. This past Saturday, she did just that. And while I don’t agree with her choice to commit suicide, I can’t help but think about the phrase “death with dignity.”
We’ve discussed suicide several times through previous devotions. Quite frankly, it’s understandably easy to consider when you live with a chronic illness. I certainly thought about it on more than one occasion, yet I’m thankful I never took the step to follow-through. I would have missed so much.
No one is denying that choosing to live with a chronic illness is easy. In fact, it’s one of the hardest things you’ll ever do, but that doesn’t mean life isn’t worth it. The things in life worth having are often the hardest to obtain.
I once met a woman in her final months of living with ALS. She couldn’t do anything for herself. Trapped in her own body, she was essentially paralyzed from the neck down, yet she could feel everything, including agonizing pain. As we talked about a variety of topics, I will never forget her attitude about life. Although she had every right to be bitter, she was filled with peace. Even though she was ready to die, she was thankful for the extra months God had given her. She was able to spend time with family and friends, see the beach one last time, reconcile with a friend, share God’s message of hope with loved ones, and see the birth of a grandchild. She lived!
We are all given a choice. Will a chronic illness eventually kill us? Most likely, yes, but that doesn’t detract from today’s potential. We aren’t dead yet! Instead of focusing on dying, choose to live. There is no greater dignity than choosing to stand firm in our faith, handling with grace whatever comes our way.
Therein lies the secret. Living a life with dignity is possible with a chronic illness. The answer to our problems isn’t found in committing suicide. It’s found in Christ alone. Because of Christ’s death and resurrection, we have the power to rise above our problems, sickness and all. The problems won’t necessarily go away, but we have the freedom to live. Not only that, but we can thrive.
Christ is more than enough to help us face whatever problems come our way and live this life with dignity, grace, laughter, and hope. He is enough!
“I was given the gift of a handicap to keep me in constant touch with my limitations. Satan’s angel did his best to get me down; what he in fact did was push me to my knees. No danger then of walking around high and mighty! At first I didn’t think of it as a gift, and begged God to remove it. Three times I did that, and then He told me, ‘My grace is enough; it’s all you need. My strength comes into its own in your weakness.’ Once I heard that, I was glad to let it happen. I quit focusing on the handicap and began appreciating the gift. It was a case of Christ’s strength moving in on my weakness. Now I take limitations in stride, and with good cheer, these limitations that cut me down to size—abuse, accidents, opposition, bad breaks. I just let Christ take over! And so the weaker I get, the stronger I become.” ~ 2 Corinthians 12:7-10 (MSG)
© November 5, 2014
*If you missed the last devotion in the series “Learning to Thrive,” use this link: http://www.erinelizabethaustin.com/blog/i-am-free