I have taken a long pause on writing. Traveling, moving to a new house, studying Thai, working in the ministry and everything in between has taken up so much of my time: I just can’t seem to sit down, to look closely at an idea and write. But this morning is different. My mind seems well-rested, and I have a few hours with my husband in a coffee shop before he needs to go to a ministry meeting. All I wanted to do is sit beside him while I read.
While doing exactly that, I tapped on a link to a blog post about a rom-com movie entitled, “Me Before You,” not foreseeing that it would catapult me into a roller coaster of emotions about suicide. The movie, as I soon figured out from the post, promotes the idea of taking one’s life as the answer for disabled people to live boldly and to die with dignity. I am not sure how the writer pegged together the words live boldly and kill yourself in a movie while making it look delightful, somehow finding a graceful way to sell the idea of a magical love story that can only be fully lived in suicide for those who are not one hundred percent physically functional.
Will I be brave enough to celebrate life still and see the time I have been given to come to its end the way the Father had planned it?
I also learned from this post that a center for legally assisted suicide exists in Switzerland. An appalling discovery for my apparently naïve self because I never thought that we, as a society, could espouse for suicide as a dignified way of dying. I never thought that we would create a place where people could go and schedule to die. It feels like a step down for humanity to allow this.
I turned to my husband (like I always do when bothered with an issue) to express my disappointment over this disturbing discovery about the movie and the center. In my animated way of retelling the article and my obvious anger about the issue, I expected him to simply agree with my sentiments and say, “Oh yes, dear, that’s awful.” But he comes right back at me and plays the devil’s advocate to press on what I truly believe.
He challenged my beliefs and asked, “What if the doctor tells you that you have six months to live, in 30 days you will lose your sight, in 40 your hearing, in 50 your organs will start falling apart, what then?” His question caught me off-guard. I backtracked for a minute with this realization: He is right. What if I was in that situation? What then? Will I have the same conviction as I do now that killing myself is simply not an option? Will I crumble under my hopeless condition and run to my demise without second thoughts? Or will I be brave enough to celebrate life still and see the time I have been given to come to its end the way the Father had planned it? I can’t say for sure how I would react when an expert tells me of my imminent, painful death. Although I can make a good guess: it’s more likely that I will want to kill myself. It’s the easiest escape route out of the pain.
I hope to find the audacity to live and not give up even when physically I have lost all that I have to offer. I hope to have the courage to live my last breath until the time God has chosen to take that away has arrived.
Yet I hope against all odds that I will choose not to even if I wanted to. I hope to be surrounded with people who will love me enough to not let me take my life no matter how hard it is to see me suffer. I hope to find the audacity to live and not give up even when physically I have lost all that I have to offer. I hope to have the courage to live my last breath until the time God has chosen to take that away has arrived. I hope for God to make me brave if this is my fate.
Pain Is Hard, But It Is Good
Pain—it’s an uneasy presence in life to deal with. I know most of us would wish, if we could, to escape it, but pain absent in life is not a good thing. Yes, it’s unpleasant; sometimes, unbearable. But pain is not the enemy;pain is actually good. I am not saying this out of some theory I’ve encountered. I’ve had countless years of pain growing up, and more as an adult. Many were unbearable. Pain, as I now know, is an unshakeable reality of my being. It’s not going away for good anytime soon. Over time, I have come to see it in a different light even though I don’t particularly welcome it with open arms. (No matter how good it is for my soul, it still hurts; and I don’t like being hurt.)
Jesus didn’t choose to escape the humiliation and the painful death He went through because He knew that a bigger story was unfolding that those who were crucifying Him were oblivious to.
Pain is what makes us aware of what is wrong in this world. Pain reminds us of how frail this life is. Pain helps us grow. Pain shows us our brokenness and our need of a Savior. Pain is what opens our eyes and our hearts to the lies of this world and the truths of Jesus. In fact, it was through pain that Jesus gave us our freedom. If He chose to avoid it, He would have been choosing to abandon us to die in our sins void of hope to ever be reunited with Him.
Jesus didn’t choose to escape the humiliation and the painful death He went through because He knew that a bigger story was unfolding that those who were crucifying Him were oblivious to. I choose to believe that if God doesn’t take my life as I suffer extreme pain—organs falling apart and all—and if He chooses to leave my mind’s acuity even when everything else within me is dying, He is allowing it because He’s seeing the big picture; He’s seeing the beauty that could come out of it. I don’t. In my agony, I can’t really see past the end of my nose.
In all things, God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28). And if You have walked with Him long enough to experience His faithfulness, you know that He really does work for our good. Even mistakes we commit that was never in His plan, with His delicate hands He weaves them in the story—in His story—and comes out outdoing Himself, creating beauty out of our mess. If He does this for us and redeems ugly acts we have committed, then how much more for suffering that we did not cause. He is allowing it because He is fighting for us. There is more to the story than what we are able to grasp. Let Him finish it well for us.
June 29, 2016
Ao Nang, TH