by Carol Broome
This story floods the news: 29-year-old Brittany Maynard, diagnosed with terminal, aggressive brain cancer, plans suicide by lethal dosage, on Oct. 1, 2014, with her loved ones present, in her marriage bed. What a heartbreaking situation. What a heartbreaking decision.
Our hearts go out to her in sympathy. Surely she is fearful of pain, loss of function, loss of control, even loss of lucidity. But it is even more grief-provoking that she cannot face these fears and live out her life to its natural end, supported and ushered to the very gates of heaven by loving family and friends, comforted in the sure hope of resurrection and accepting life’s challenges with God’s help. Worse, via a media campaign, society is pressured to laud her decision and to extend that option to others.
But once extended, would this truly remain a choice rather than an expectation?
The terminally ill are already stressed by their high costs of care; often feeling worthless or a burden. In 2012, a Money article reported: “One out of every four Medicare dollars, more than $125 billion, is spent on services for the 5% of beneficiaries in their last year of life. . . . out-of-pocket expenses for Medicare recipients during the five years before their death averaged about $39,000 for individuals, $51,000 for couples, and up to $66,000 for people with long-term illnesses like Alzheimer’s.”
Will stories like Brittany’s place more sinister pressure on the most vulnerable? Is it conceivable that terminally ill people will soon be expected to end their own lives, perhaps considered cowardly if they do not? How inhuman that would be!
Christians know that such selfish pressures and the temptation toward suicide reject a great gift from God, that precious gift of life itself that no human can create. Hating death and disease is right and proper. Taking a life, even our own, is not. God is “the Lord and Giver of life.” Humans are each infinitely precious to Him. We serve Him when we guard and treasure all human life, even when it is difficult. We serve Him when we show His love by caring for those who have become helpless. We serve Him when we remain faithful despite pain and hardship. “Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life” (Rev. 2:10), God says.
Yes, “Death is swallowed up in victory” (1 Cor. 15:55).