Brittany Maynard died yesterday…

Except she didn’t…

The beautiful 29 year old newlywed, who had made the announcement that she would choose to end her life with dignity on Saturday, November 1st (two days after her husband’s birthday) has decided to wait and choose another day to die with dignity…


This has to be one of the most heartbreaking stories I have read in recent days. A beautiful young bride gets married and is off to the races with her new husband and then gets the awful diagnosis of a brain tumor that is most aggressive and is told by her doctor that probably in the next 6-9 months you are going to die a horrible, painful death due to this cancer.
Forgive me, but this just sucks! All the way around!
In the aftermath of this diagnosis Brittany Maynard moved with her husband to Oregon to exercise the state’s right to die with dignity by taking a mixture of drugs prescribed by her doctor that will end her life.
With her bucket list completed by visiting the Grand Canyon last week, the date of November 1st loomed large.

The other day Brittany chose to change the date…
I don’t blame her. I cannot even begin to imagine what it would be like to be in her shoes…

There are four words that come to mind with this whole situation…They all begin with the letter “C”

Cancer – I will never forget reading a book in college called “Illness as Metaphor” where the author, Susan Sontag asks a chilling question that chills me to this day, “When will the day come where we will hear the word “cancer” and won’t immediately associate it with the word “death?”  There have been great strides in medicine on cancer, but the day Susan Sontag longs for has not arrived…yet. I have lost too many friends to the non-discriminating disease we call cancer.

Choice – Brittany has chosen to end her life with dignity. What a wonderful gift God has given us in “choices.” God is pro-choice. God given us the free will to make the choices before us. We are not robots or automatons. That is a God given gift.

I am moved by what Moses says, “I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse. Therefore choose life…” (Deuteronomy 30.19)
Yes, we have choices…but choose life! Which makes God pro-life as well…

Joshua talks about all the choices we have in the various gods we will serve and then concludes with: “And if it is evil in your eyes to serve the Lord, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served in the region beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” (Joshua 24. 15)
Yes, there are many gods to serve, but I choose to serve the Lord.

We all have choices to make. Moses encourages us to “choose” life. Joshua models for us that he will “choose” to serve the Lord.

I do my best to “choose” life over death day by day. There is no doubt that I have made many choices in my 51 years that have brought “death” to my body, mind, life and spirit. Overall, my position and my utmost desire is to lean toward choosing life and choosing to serve the Lord.

Then perhaps for another day, we can look at the scriptures that talk about how God “chose us” (before we could choose Him) through Christ before the foundations of the world to become holy and blameless (Ephesians 1.4).

Control – I have watched Brittany’s video and have listened to a number of TV commentaries and read my fair share of online blogs that have voiced their commendations and condemnations on this whole issue. The one word that comes up over and over is the word “control.”
Brittany wants to “control” how she dies. With the ability to control how she dies comes dignity.
I am in a bit of quandary on this one.
I would love to control how I die! I want to die in my sleep with no pain…
Unfortunately, for me that luxury is not mine to determine.
I have known a lot of people who died in all sorts of ways and in my mind and heart they all died with great dignity.
Some died in their sleep. My grandmother put her hand to her head and said to her husband, “Oh Marshall…” and then died of a massive stroke. Another friend screamed and writhed in pain for three days straight before she died due to cancer. The last words one of my best friends heard from his co-pilot was, “I’ve got it. I’ve go it.” His co-pilot didn’t have it and the plane crashed and the two were killed. My spiritual mentor in high school took his own life a few years ago in a most violent way. The dad of a friend of mine lived for two years in a comatose state in the guest room of his house before dying. Never once did I think my friend’s dad had lost his dignity as he laid there day after day. His dad had a profound, spiritually positive effect on the family even in his comatose state. This list could go on and on. In the end, these beautiful people that I knew and loved never lost their dignity. Their dignity was never dependent or contingent upon their manner of death.

Another tough lesson I have learned in life is that I am not in control of much of anything. I can hardly control myself!
God is in control and I am not…
As a Christ follower, that is a decision that I chose to make and that is to surrender, release my “perceived sense of control” and turn it over to the One who controls all.

Christ – Jesus was perhaps the first one to predict accurately how he was going to die. He mentioned on no less than three occasions that he would go to Jerusalem and be beaten, spit upon, scourged, betrayed and ultimately crucified.
Jesus asked God, his Father in the garden of Gethsemane that if there was another way to die, to let him die differently. There was no other way.
Jesus died just as he predicted…in a most horrific way.
In being crucified in the most humiliating way Jesus never lost his dignity…

Jesus tells us in no uncertain terms that pain and suffering are a part of a dignified life.
I wish it wasn’t.
However, I have learned some of life’s greatest lessons through pain and suffering.

I find great comfort and hope in my suffering because the one who loves me the most, Jesus, chose to die with great pain, suffering, and dignity in order that I might have life and life eternal.

I pray for Brittany and her family…I hope you will too…
She has a lot of choices before her…
As do we all…

Laugh often and Fear not!

“But we do see Jesus, who was made lower than the angels for a little while, now crowned with glory and honor because he suffered death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone.

10 In bringing many sons and daughters to glory, it was fitting that God, for whom and through whom everything exists, should make the pioneer of their salvation perfect through what he suffered. 11 Both the one who makes people holy and those who are made holy are of the same family. So Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers and sisters.” (Hebrews 2. 9-11)

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