Wednesday, April 13, 2005

To hell with such "compassion"

Strong words, I know---purposefully so. But I think that the supposed "compassion" that the pro-suicide "compassion in dying" people are advocating comes from the very pit of hell. There it should remain.

I have to believe that.

My brother fought cancer for nine years, courageously so. He managed to work, to support his family, when lesser men would have given up in pain and despair. I watched him go from a strong, robust man to someone who needed a cane, someone who fell numerous times due to radiation damage to his spine, someone who eventually lost the use of his legs and was confined to a wheelchair. I saw him in pain, suffering. I saw his wife care for him with a compassion that was overwhelming.

But she didn't kill him.

While I watched my brother wage what he called "his personal battle of Helm's Deep" and while I watched his final days, I kept thinking, "I could not do this. God spare me from this."

Please stay away from me, you who would come with the evil siren song of suicide when I am at my weakest. Supposedly this bill before our California legislators contains provisions to present patients with counseling about "alternatives". This made me say sarcastically, during this morning's rant, "Oh, yes. You can either die a humane death with dignity or a long, drawn out, tortuously horrific death of cancer."

I don't know how I will die. God knows that my wish, since childhood, is to "go to sleep and wake up dead". (I can still hear my brother protesting the impossibility of "waking up dead".) Maybe God will honor that request. Maybe I will die a horrible death of cancer. Who knows what awaits any of us?

But, please, those of you who think the humane and compassionate and dignified thing would be for you to offer me a drug-induced suicide, stay away from me should I ever become ill. Stay away. For God's sake, stay away. I don't know if, in my most vulnerable moment, I will have the strength to say, "Get behind me, Satan."

You see, I hate suffering. But, as I told my husband this morning, I also cling to the belief that there is some purpose in suffering. If I am ever suffering from some horrific disease or affliction, I want people to remind me of that. I have no idea what the purpose of suffering is, but I cling to the belief that, when I see Jesus, I'll understand.

At this point in our conversation, my husband looked at me slightly aghast. I'm sure he has---and many of my readers probably join him in having---a much more defined and mature theology of suffering. I'll freely admit that I don't. All I can say is this: suffering stinks. I hate it. But I believe that God never abandons us, even in our darkest hours, even when we are convinced He has. And I believe there is a purpose to our suffering. I may never know what that purpose is, this side of Heaven. But, when I am suffering, true compassion should require people to remind me of that. "I know you are going through what seems like hell now, but Heaven awaits you---and God is putting all our tears in a bottle---and there is reason and purpose to this nightmare. I will try to walk with you through the valley of the shadow of death but, even if I fall short, God will always be there."

It is far easier to hand someone lethal drugs than it is to sit with them, wipe up their vomit, hold their hands, fail miserably at trying to be "Jesus with skin on", and watch them suffer while your heart is being ripped to shreds. Far easier. But compassion, true compassion, isn't about making someone else's pain go away for our own comfort. It isn't about us.

Let false compassion stay where it belongs.


  1. Rebecca, I found your post inspired and I second your thoughts wholeheartedly. As you know, my dad died from pancreatic cancer just two weeks ago. He knew what was coming. He knew he was terminal. He knew it would be painful, excrutiatingly so. And yet, he is the very definition of dying with dignity. He didn't give in to despair and end his life. He allowed nature to take its course. He suffered temporarily, but he is enjoying glory with the Lord Jesus even now! We are suffering too, but I hold fast to the truth that there IS indeed a reason for this. I remember always Romans 8:28, the verse I claimed when we lost our pre-born daughter just over a year ago. I will never be in favor of this horrific legislation out here in California and I hope to use my dad's story to show people what TRUE death with dignity really mean.

  2. Oh, AMEN and **AMEN** (clapping and shouting!) Even Christ did not want to suffer, hence "not my will, but Thine."

    This is scary stuff.

  3. I found your website while looking for resources on raising a large family as we are expecting #4 and hopefully more.
    I then found your blog this morning.
    This entry is the most moving thing I have read in a good long while. Amazing! I am directing my friends here to read it. Amen!