Lauren Hill made a layup 17 seconds into the basketball game for Mount St. Joseph against Hiram College. She suffers from a rare brain tumor and has been given only months to live. She made the highlight reel on Sportscenter. She says that she is committed to her team even as she will not be able to play soon. Hill is asking for people to make a donation to the The Cure Starts Now Foundation.
Does the fact that we are terminally ill, give us the right to choose for ourselves when to choose our demise? Before answering this, I think we need to look deeper into this issue before a quick response. If grandma puts it into her will that she does not want to be put on life support at the end of her days, is this the same issue? What about the mother who chooses to end her own life in order to save the child inside of her? What about the families who have had to make the hard decision to end the life of one they love, due to that person being considered “brain dead”? If we have the choice to end life in these situations, does an individual have the right to end their own life when faced with the words terminal, no recovery, or no treatment?
There is no doubt that many in these situations can and do lose the will to live. Their quality of life has gone downhill fast and there is only “pain management” to look forward to. I think all of us know or have known someone in this situation. Sometimes, holding out for “the end” becomes very taxing on the body and spirit. In our desire to ease their pain and suffering, we may have feelings that it would be better for them to “go home”, rather than stay in this world in their present situation. Many families have had to wrestle with these emotions, and to put a blanket over each of these issues takes away the individualness of these stories. I think we would all want for the news media or certain religious watchdog groups to respect our right to wrestle with, and grieve out this whole issue within our families and not in the papers or on the internet.
Having said that, all of life is precious. We are spiritual beings. God created us, breathed life into us and we became living souls. The Bible says that He knows us before we are even born (Psalm 139). He sees our lives from beginning to end. The length of our days and even our health-related struggles are not news to Him. Still, our modern medicine cannot compare to His knowledge and wisdom. Should we lay and suffer? Should we hold out for Hope of Healing from this Gracious God? Maybe that is the difference! If we choose to believe that this life and this world is all there is, then the choice may be easier to end it all. Still, if we know God, know that He is Good and has allowed this suffering, does this mean we cannot wrestle with the thoughts of ending it all? Even when we know that our lives our in His Capable Hands, do we not wonder where He is in this time of struggle? Why He has allowed this to be? Why He has not offered a cure to us or the loved one facing death? Sometimes decisions like this are harder when they are laid at our doorstep. As Believers, it is easier to be inhumane to those making these choices, rather than realizing that we are just as human. That if the shoe is on our foot instead, Faith could falter, fear creep in and we could become undone.
Maynard's decision to take the deadly prescription stands in sharp contrast to 13-year-old cancer victim Ethan Hallmark of Midlothian, Texas, who died Sept. 26 after a four-year battle with an aggressive form of Neuroblastoma, a pediatric cancer.
Before his death, Hallmark recorded a message proclaiming faith in God, and exhorting others to trust in our Lord. "Keep putting your faith in God and always remember he is with you even in the depths of suffering," Hallmark said in a video. "He's good." Hallmark encouraged others through his suffering." Even though my cancer's been a lot of bad stuff, it's been a lot of good stuff too," the teenager said. "I met friends I would have never met. I've grown closer to God; my family has. I wouldn't trade my relationship with God for anything."
Hallmark's story is captured in a 45-minute video that can be viewed on the I Am Second website, at http://www.iamsecond.com/seconds/ethan-hallmark/.
In summary, these choices are best wrestled with, within the constructs of the family. If I had my way, everyone on this planet would know how loved and treasured they are by Creator God. That what He allows us to go through is always for our good and for His glory. Still, some will make these choices outside of that framework. We must not allow that fact to dissuade us from showing forth mercy and love to them. They had a choice to make and they made it. We must strive to make Christ's Love and Mercy known to all, no matter the circumstance. When we don't, we push them away. When we do, what rejoicing awaits!
Sources for this article: CNN, NBC News and Baptist Press