Mercy

Greetings from the assisted-suicide capital of the U.S.

That episode of House Tim and I watched last night dealt with euthanasia, posing the oft-asked, “When someone is suffering and afraid, because their situation is terminal and it will only get a whole lot worse before they die, and they’re begging to be allowed to die, now, shouldn’t a medical person honor their request?”

When I’m in agony someday due to cancer or stroke or something, remind me I said this: don’t deny me the suffering I’m given.

Sure, dope me up, hospice-style, and try to provide my comfort. I hope I’ll appreciate it. If my mind is clear, I may not feel I can endure what’s happening. But if experience is any teacher, I’ll have better and worse moments. And in the better ones, God willing, I will take in the final details about this life, this classroom, that I’m meant to learn. I want them.

I’m not saying the TV characters didn’t struggle with a true moral dilemma for our age. They represent a culture generally rejecting God, or at least not much interested in him, but still wanting to do good, to treat people well. Death is only an enemy in society until life cannot give us what we want. To lose a certain (albeit vague) quality of life ought not be tolerated, all things being equal and God basically only a spiritual idea.

It’s also not my intent to say people who get stretched beyond individual limits, physically or emotionally, and end their own lives (assisted or not), can’t be believers in the one true God. I’ve never lived in another‘s skin; I can’t know the horrors a person stronger than I (most are--I’m a wimp) has faced before giving in to despair. A writer I met this year, Dorcas Smucker, grieves a nephew who laughed with the family last Christmas and killed himself this summer. Cold judgment makes no sense of her loss.

All I want is to live until I die, near as possible. I am so looking forward to what will come afterward, having a place in Life, in eternity, with God. Hearing him say, “It’s all right now. Sit here. You ready to begin?” God’s somehow preparing me in this prelude. The worst moments (illness, body succumbing to age, depression, etc.), have delivered greater gifts (perseverance, hope, increments of wisdom) than I could have imagined, that I would have missed, had I opted out sooner. They may bind my wounds, yet, when the road one day morphs to a minefield, and I scarcely can bear one more faltering step.

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