One of greatest fears people have is becoming terminally ill and unable to function or fend for themselves. They are afraid they will not only be a burden on others, but that they might die alone as well. One of the ways people have chosen to deal with these dilemmas is to invite a medical professional to sedately usher them out of this life, and in so doing, take control of their own death.
Many are afraid of living incompetently or in writhing pain. They feel that ending their life in a manner of their choosing gives them the power, at least for a moment, over their own fate that they might not otherwise have. And in some ways, the request to have a physician assist someone in dying may actually be a surety that one does not die alone. Some have used it as an opportunity to beckon a family member to be present as they take their final breath.
Being a champion over the hour of one’s own death has become contagious, as it has encouraged many who are terminally ill to consider the option. This has put some physicians in a precarious position, coercing them to go contrary to the oath they took to “do no harm.” It’s difficult to imagine having to abdicate one’s morals and conscience in order to respect a patient claiming the right to die with dignity.
However, in debating whether a person has the right to ask for assistance in dying, we risk missing the deeper question about the resources a person has when they reach the point they cannot bear on their own.
Many claim that they can do as they wish with their lives. The Christian worldview, however, maintains that our lives are a gift from God and therefore not solely our own—that in life and in death our bodies belongs to the One who gives us life in the first place. And with all the questions and uncertainties surrounding death, the question is; “Do we trust that God will be with us in all that we go through in life and even in death?”
The writer of most of the New Testament said, “If we live, it’s to honor the Lord. And if we die, it’s to honor the Lord. So whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord.” Romans 14:8
The late tech genius, Steve Jobs said, “Death is a destination we all share.” That being true, what do people really seek in their dying days? Henri Nouwen proposed that those who are dying should have someone present with them – not to speak or advise, but simply to be available to help another carry the greatest burden they will ever carry. We should teach ourselves to be with those who are dying as one day that will be our plight.One of greatest fears people have is becoming terminally ill #ChancesAre Click To Tweet
Those who have put their faith in the good news of Jesus believe that ultimately God is always with them in every circumstance of life—which includes the final episode of death. They need not fear death or dying alone. They need not fear what comes after death either.
This is an extremely complicated and sensitive issue that requires sound judgment as well as compassion. That’s why it’s important to add to the discussion that there is no physician to whom we can entrust our last breath who cares for us more than God. And there is no other comfort in our time of suffering than the one God so graciously gives.