IF YOU WERE suffering today with a terminal illness, would you want to end your life? There seems to be a theme today in real life situations, as well as movies and
television shows, depicting one who is suffering being assisted or encouraged in committing suicide in order not to suffer; in order to “plan out” how their life should end.
And many see this as a positive thing to do; as a way of being compassionate, sensitive and loving…not wanting to see another suffer more than they need to.
I am the first to admit; it is very hard, traumatically hard at times, to see our loved ones suffering, or to be suffering ourselves, when there seems no way out. In fact, I have experienced this, to certain degrees, with my beloved mother who has been fighting lung cancer and at times has found it hard to breath (she’s doing better now, nor has she been given a 100% death sentence, but they haven’t expected her to live this long). It can be an intense suffering to see her, or anyone we love deeply, suffer in such a way.
But I ask, is it a loving thing to do, to help one relieve their suffering by ending their life, if they’ve been diagnosed with a terminal illness? If we look at this from a mere, very limited and gravely inaccurate human perspective, the answer would seem to be “yes.” But is that how we want to look at it? That is how Satan would want us to see it, and thus he has been spreading his deceptive lies… leading us to false compassion.*
DO WE SMELL the scent of a similar scenario that took place in the beautiful Garden of Eden with our greatest grandparents Adam and Eve? Ol slew foot was slyly lurking around them to implant deception, to “inspire” them to take life into their own hands. “Did God really say [that]?” (Gen 3:1). He convinced them that God did not really have their best interest in mind. And, as we know how the story proceeds, they listened to the lie.
And, now, we are all reaping the benefits of this “fall of humankind.” We are all reaping the benefits of Adam and Eve choosing to do their own human will rather than the Divine Will of God.
Do we see the grave similarity here? Do we really want to be in control of our own lives? Or do we want our loving God and Creator to have the reigns and be in the driver’s seat? After all, He created us for a purpose that we can never on our own figure out; as, His ways are not our ways (cf Is 55:8).
Some might argue, “how can you say He is a loving God if He allows such suffering?” But the fact is, it is precisely that we go outside of His will and take the reigns, that brings about the sufferings; ie, beginning in the Garden.
There are many questions one could ask regarding the mentality of many today. First of all, what if God planned to heal someone at the last minute who had decided to take their life? Whoops, we missed out there?
Secondly and more importantly, what if Jesus, when He realized He would have to go through His suffering and death, had Lazarus slip Him a suicide pill, or even more ludicrous have Mary (the “New Eve”) do it, so He could die more peacefully without suffering? Does there seem to be something gravely wrong with this picture? Of course, because the whole reason Jesus came into this world was to suffer and die for us; to reopen the heavenly gates to us that were closed, by Adam and Eve choosing their own wills’ over God’s.
And, of course here, someone could respond, “that is precisely right, Jesus suffered and died so we wouldn’t have to.” And, the response to that is, where does it say that He came so that we wouldn’t have to suffer? He came that we “might have life…to the full” (Jn 10:10). But He tells us clearly, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me” (Lk 9:23).
As St. Paul tells us, “in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ on behalf of his body, which is the church” (Col 1:24). Not that Christ’s sufferings at Calvary were lacking in any way regarding our redemption; but, Christ has given us such a high dignity that we could be co-redeemers with Him by aiding in the distribution of the graces He won for us at Calvary. This being said, our sufferings can gain powerful merit and graces for ourselves and others.** The Catholic Church speaks of this as “redemptive suffering” (see St. John Paul II’s Apostolic Letter: Redemptive Suffering).
WHAT PEOPLE FORGET is that this life is very short and but an anti-chamber to prepare us for Heaven (if we so choose to go there by cooperating with God’s graces). Think of it this way; say we decide we do want to kill ourselves to avoid a certain suffering. What if God had wanted to use that specific suffering in our lives, to aid us or one of our loved ones, in preparing for Eternity? So where does that leave us when we die? At best (God only knows) in purgatory, suffering to prepare and purify us in a way we didn’t allow for here on earth; at worst, in the fires of hell because we didn’t choose God in this life but rather ourselves.
Satan has done such a good job, as “prince of this world,” in deceiving so many into believing and living the “spirit of this world;” which is in opposition to the Spirit of God. The three things that we are up against in this fallen world are: the world, the flesh and the devil. Most people are being inspired in their way of living by these three ways. This in fact, is why the world crucified Jesus. He was in opposition. He was trying to bring the Truth and Love of the Father to us, and yet many didn’t receive Him. Many succumbed to the temptations and deceptions of the evil one.
THIS ARTICLE IS FOR THOSE who want to live with and for God in this life. If so, we are called to surrender ALL to Him, including how we are to die; not taking it into our own hands. Are there areas in our lives right now in which we are trying to be in control? The key for us as Christians is to always strive to be in the stance of surrendering our human wills to His Divine Will. “Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven!” (Mat 6:10).
Of course, Jesus came to show us the way to live in the Father’s Divine Will. Every moment of His life on earth, His Heart was united with the Father, seeking His Will and plan (cf. Jn 6:38, Lk 22:42). And, Mary is the one creature who lived constantly the Divine Will throughout her own earthly life (cf. Gen. 3:15, Lk 1:38, Rev. 12). She never once did her human will, which coincides with the Catholic Churches teachings on her Immaculate Conception, her Assumption into Heaven and many other beautiful mysteries of her life.
There is great hope for all of us. God has a very important plan and mission for each of us on this earth and beyond. It may look differently than we expected, but it is important for us to live in abandonment to His Divine Providence in the present moment… allowing Him to be the lead as we remain in the dance of life with Him.
Whether we are suffering from Ebola, at the hands of Isis, a tsunami, a hurricane or the many other physical, emotional, mental and spiritual sufferings that come our way, if we are in the Heart of God (which Mary helps us to do most fully and perfectly), we are in a part of paradise here on earth, we will have the grace to suffer anything that is asked of us, with a deep joy and peace in our hearts.
Saint Faustina tells us, “At the beginning of my religious life, suffering and adversities frightened and disheartened me. So I prayed continuously, asking Jesus to strengthen me and to grant me the power of His Holy Spirit that I might carry out His holy will in all things, because from the beginning I have been aware of my weakness.” [p. 56] She later writes; “From the moment I came to love suffering, it ceased to be a suffering for me. Suffering is the daily food of my soul.”
Saint Paul tells us,
“If God is for us who can be against us?…What will separate us from the love of Christ? Will anguish, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or the sword?…No, in all these things we conquer overwhelmingly through him who loved us”
By Missionaries of Our Mother of the Eucharist, Lilla Marie Lottinger
* “Human life is sacred because from its beginning it involves the creative action of God and it remains forever in a special relationship with the Creator, who is its sole end. God alone is the Lord of life from its beginning until its end: no one can under any circumstance claim for himself the right directly to destroy an innocent human being” (CCC #2258).
**St. Rose of Lima :
“If only mortals would learn how great it is to possess divine grace, how beautiful, how noble, how precious. How many riches it hides within itself, how many joys and delights! No one would complain about his cross or about troubles that may happen to him, if he would come to know the scales on which they are weighed when they are distributed to me“.
Fr. John Hardon, S.J. :
“We love only to the degree that we are willing to suffer.”