It wasn't that long ago that I was "pro-choice", "pro-euthanasia", and "pro-capital punishment". It still seems a little strange to hear myself saying that I am no longer any of these. Is this a radical viewpoint? Am I radical for thinking that humans were made in God's image, that He knew our names before we were born, that He knows every hair on our heads, that we are His children, and thus because of all this, we are supposed to stand for LIFE from conception to natural death? Okay, if society deems saving human lives a radical concept, then I am a radical by today's standards.
In suffering, we are given lessons interwoven into the threads of pain. In death, we learn to succumb to God's will and not our own. We learn to let our loved ones pass back into God's eternal resting place. For those who are dying, they come very close to heaven or hell - staring death down in the face. Some even have the grace given to them to survive death and be cured of their sufferings. Through others' end-of-life experiences, we take a glimpse into God's exponentially wide arms of mercy and His ability to work miracles in our lives. Those of us who have bounced back from the brink of death know what it is like to be held in the palm of His hand and given a second chance. Our lives are not for naught. Each of us has a mission and a God-given purpose to use the gifts He gave us at conception.
Between January of 2013 and May of 2014, I lost three babies all at different stages of life. Each of them was precious, but they were brought back to heaven for reasons beyond my earthly understanding. I suffered immensely, not only emotionally, but physically. The second one landed me close to death passed out on my bedroom floor after hours of pain and blood loss that are beyond description. When the paramedics arrived and revived me, my heart rate was very low and my body was numb. It was a very calm and ethereal few moments as they prepped me for the stretcher. I really couldn't care less about what they were doing. My eyes were on God and thanking Him for my life, my husband, and my four beautiful healthy children. Laying in the hospital for two days with no visitors (outside my immediate family at the onset of my admission), gave me so much time to pray and think. Briefly touching death's door allowed me a very intimate time with God. In a way, I wouldn't take that time back. There were so many lessons of thankfulness, forgiveness, and healing that were learned there.
I would imagine all who suffer, and all who are near death, experience God in this intimate way and feel His love and grace if they allow Him in. As painful as death is, it is a part of our lives and it is a step to life-everlasting with our Creator. We don't know how each of us will go. We don't know if we will suffer. We do know that God has a plan for us and that our pains and struggles here on earth are temporary. We know that through our sufferings, we are united to Christ on the cross and His sufferings. We get a glimpse of God's immense love for us through the pain on the cross and through our own crosses.
Brittany and her family do not know what graces would have been given to them through her death from cancer. They will never know that nor will they know if a miracle would have occurred. Miracles can and do happen; they are not fairy tales. What I do know is that we are not allowed to play God. It is not our role here to determine who gets to live, who doesn't, and for how long. Our society tells us that it is merciful to kill and calls it "death with dignity", yet God tells us in no uncertain terms that murder is a sin and "thou shalt not". We must pray for our world that we see murder in all its forms and reject it. Suicide is never the "brave" option. It is far braver to stare down your death sentence and grow through it moving ever nearer to God. It is far braver to teach those around you about death, suffering, strength, forgiveness, healing, prayer, God's graces, and God's miracles.
Simply, each life in its entirety has meaning and should be cherished and protected from conception to natural death. We must trust in God's plan for our lives ...and not plan our lives and deaths and play God.
Here are three pro-life messages from a very brave teenager, a a very brave thirty year old seminarian, and a very brave middle aged woman all diagnosed with terminal brain cancer…
A letter from Philip Johnson, a North Carolina seminarian, who has terminal brain cancer:
Letter to Brittany
…and a story about Lauren Hill, the nineteen year old college freshman basketball player, diagnosed with terminal brain cancer:
ESPN reports Lauren Hill Fulfills Dreams
…and a video message from Maggie Karner, a Connecticut woman, also diagnosed with glioblastoma like Brittany was: