Brittany Maynard plans to kill herself in the next seven days, hoping to “pass in peace.”
A life apart from God imagines that the here-and-now is the extent of human existence. This non-Christian philosophy both cheapens and ignores the hope the Bible proffers of eternity. Without an eternal perspective, difficult circumstances often lead to hopelessness, an emotion common to the human experience.
My home state of Oregon was the first in the world to officially provide government-sponsored suicide. A short time ago, Brittany Maynard moved herself and her family to Oregon to die on her own terms before her life becomes what she believes is a shameful and embarrassing dependence upon others for her most basic human needs. She was diagnosed with an aggressive brain tumor earlier this year. Who doesn’t feel deep sadness and compassion for her? This is a tragic story from every angle.
Suicide is about grasping for control over uncontrollable circumstances. Brittany will die with the help of the State of Oregon or of natural causes, but she will die one day – as will we all. Death is one of the few certainties of life.
This 29-year old doesn’t want to be remembered for what she may become in the final days of her suffering, but that suffering can be an example of humility, love, and grace. It’s also an opportunity for her family to demonstrate their unfailing love for her.
We live an a society that selfishly despises the thought of suffering, but in her death, this young woman will be remembered for who she is and how she lived – not the pain of her suffering. Neither suffering nor pain define who we are, but it certainly shapes who we are.
Mrs Maynard wants to die on her own terms. She wants to be in control until the very end. Suffering isn’t part of the plan she has for her life or her family – but suffering is a vital and very real part of the human experience … and of death. We pridefully think we “deserve” a certain kind of life or length of life, but every day of life is a gift to be appreciated and lived for what it is: good or bad, pleasure or pain, joy or sorrow. Living includes suffering and our suffering should never be thought of as a waste. Jesus, the Man of sorrows and familiar with suffering, didn’t count His suffering as wasted (Isaiah 53:3; Hebrews 12:2).
According to my earnest expectation and hope that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ will be magnified in my body, whether in life or by death (Philippians 1:20-21).