Wednesday, October 8, 2014

There's no dignity in suffering...

...or is there?

Did you read this story?  Can you believe it?  
For those of you who don’t want to click on the article, the story is tragedy at it’s finest.  

A woman, so young, with debilitating, non-curable brain cancer.  She has chosen her date to die, so that she might die with dignity.  And you know what?  It makes perfect sense.  

It's awful watching people who have had to live and suffer with incurable diseases.  It is heart wrenching.  But doesn't it seem so much more heart wrenching when the person is young?

Last year, I read the blog of a mom who’s son was dying of brain cancer.  I sobbed on the regular reading about her coming to terms with him losing his battle, reading about God not intervening with a miracle, and finally, the end.  And when she wrote about her faith, when she wrote that her child was God’s and because her child was God’s her job was to bring him to heaven...I was speechless.

And now there's this story.  A young bride, a beautiful woman, her pictures are stunning.  The sorrow of the story is palpable, as I have often thought about what it would be like if myself or my husband were given tragic news.  For me, life got so much more intense once I got married.  Once I had children.  This is so ridiculous you guys are going to laugh, but I sometimes find myself sobbing at the mere thought of tragedy in my immediate family.  I make up terrible scenerios in my head. I am kind of notorious for it.  If my husband is even 20 minutes late, I start to prepare myself for the ‘call’ and consider funeral arrangements. 

Death and suffering is a terrible, terrible thing.

To be honest, death makes more sense than suffering though.  Suffering is the absolutely awful.  Watching those you love suffer is unbearable.  Truly unbearable. 

If not for the cross.

And so, for those of you that asked, I get her decision.  I get why she’d choose to let go.  I get why she is choosing to ‘die with dignity',  assuming dying while clinging to unimaginable suffering somehow becomes void of dignity. 

I get it because we live in a world where Christ and His example, a lot of times, doesn't matter.  And that’s a scary scary world to live in.  You see, the story of this young woman is one that I don’t think can be understood separate from the cross.  The cross is what teaches us that suffering doesn't have to be meaningless.  The cross shows us that sometimes, through suffering AMAZING things can happen.

Did you watch this video?  
BOLD MINISTRIES is getting fancy (though totally not) and starting to crudely record some of our presentations.  In this video my ministry partner Mike talks about meeting God in the death of his son, Liam.

My ministry partner is also one of my best friends.  His wife is as well.  One and a half years ago, after 9 years of trying to have a child, their son, Liam passed away, with no real reason.  A child so many people hoped and prayed for was taken way too soon.  

I remember driving to the hospital, after getting the phone call and being SO angry with God. I am not generally a person who is angry with God.  But I had a shaking my fist moment.  A big one.  Why would He do this? Why would He take this child, who was so loved?  It seemed like a cruel joke from a terrible puppet master. It shook my faith during that drive to meet my grieving friends.  And then I got to the hospital.  I prayed with my friends, I held sweet Liam.  In the weeks that followed, we saw miracle after miracle.  Liam’s little life made a tremendous impact, even in the short amount of time he was here.  And I began to understand the tragedy a little better. 

When our hearts break, I know our God understands.  The shortest verse in the bible tells us all we need to know about a God who understands hurt, “Jesus Wept” (John 11.:35).  He wept for his friend who had died.  He wept for his friend’s family and community.  He wept at suffering.  He understood it’s horror.  He understood what death, dying, suffering does to a person and a community.  And then He showed us that He could conquer it. By dying on the cross, and rising three days later He showed us that ‘death has lost it’s sting' (1 Corinthians 15:55-57). 

But these things, all these things, are incredibly hard to understand when we separate them from the cross.  And we do an awful lot of separating from the cross in today’s society.  My question, of course, is how’s that working for us?  

We are curing suffering at every turn, but it sure doesn’t seem like people are happier.  A pill for this, a surgery for that, a numbing agent to here, an assisted suicide there… and yet, our sickness doesn’t seem to be getting any better. 

So, I’m gonna pray for Brittany Maynard in the next couple weeks. I’m gonna to ask St. Liam to pray with me.  I am going to pray that her suffering is alleviated, but, if it can’t be, I’m going to pray she understand her life STILL has value.  Her suffering can hold dignity, a dignity far more mysterious than what this world offers. 

And friends, I ask you to join me in these prayers.


  1. Oh Mary I have never heard Mike speak so frankly of Liam's passing...thanks for sharing!

  2. Mary, this is so so well done. I didn't know about Mike and Kelly's baby. I'm so so sad for them. We are so blessed that our suffering can have meaning. I don't know how people live without that.