This past weekend I read the sad news that Brittany Maynard, a 29 year old woman with a terminal brain tumor, had taken her life. She chose to “die with dignity” by taking legally prescribed drugs. She didn’t want to continue through the pain and suffering of her cancer. What was glaringly absent in Brittany’s story was a “Thumbs Up” attitude with Jesus on top. She didn’t have the comfort and hope that Jesus alone can give. She didn’t have the care of the great Physician. She didn’t have the undying love of the Perfect Husband.
This story stands in sharp contrast to that of Maggie Karner, director of LCMS Life and Health Ministries. Karner is also dying from a brain tumor. But, she’s not going to die by her own hand. She has full trust in her Savior, Physician, Husband and Friend … Jesus Christ. She believes His promises, “I have loved you with an everlasting love” (Jer. 31:3) and “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” (2 Cor. 12:9). Karner trusts that Jesus will not allow her to suffer beyond what she can bear. She trusts that Jesus will continue to use her to bless others and lead others to eternal life until that day when He will take her to His side. She’s got her priorities in order. She WILL live FOREVER!
When we keep Jesus on top, we look at life with different eyes. It’s not just about me. THANK GOD FOR THAT! I will always let myself down, run in fear, give up in despair and seek the easy way out. With Jesus as our number one relationship (Thumbs Up!), we have strength that will never let us down, direction that is wise, joy through suffering, hope for eternity and the power to take the hard way that is a blessing to us and all who know us.
Death with dignity, if it involves taking your own life, is a cop out. It’s giving in to the despair of having yourself as your God. Death with Christ is the way of victory. Before we even die, we’ve already won. And, as I’ve seen in dozens of faithful Christians who have died from cancer in God’s timing, every moment of life is a precious gift from God. It’s an opportunity to share the Gospel of eternal life with others. It’s a time to celebrate life in the arms of Jesus. Thumbs Up to Jesus … especially in the shadow of death.