When Did Death Become Preferable to Pain?

Our culture here in the West is rather strange when it comes to pain.  We hate pain and suffering and we are rather pitiful when it comes to dealing with it; we also hate anything that inconveniences us.  And oddly enough, this has created a sort of juxtaposition in our minds – that is, we hate pain, but death is an acceptable substitute.

I don’t know how many people I’ve talked to – young people like me, sadly – who told me if they ever got diagnosed with a painful illness, they would prefer to just die early rather than see it through.  They would prefer a quick death over dementia, some even over cancer.  “Die with dignity” is the oft-repeated slogan.  I hear it in discussions about abortion, too.  “Wouldn’t it be better to prevent a child’s suffering than risk a life of destitution?” some ask, as if they could really see the kid’s fate in the cards right there.  As if it is already a death sentence to be poor; as if there is no possibility whatsoever for that child’s life to be wonderful.  See, we even hate the possibility of suffering.  I know many have heard of the babies in the U.K. whose parents were denied their request to treat them in other countries – they actually got hate mail from people telling them how cruel they were to prolong their own child‘s suffering.

What I don’t understand is why death is preferable to suffering.  I mean, death is absolutely the end of it, right?  In the perspective of atheism, all that’s waiting for you at the end of your life is a cold grave.  So isn’t it the greatest cruelty to deny someone the right to live out the rest of their days?  Isn’t suffering in life better than nothingness in death?

And how come in our supposedly tolerant societies, we are so intolerant when it comes to the lives of the disabled?  Why are we so quick to allow the choice of death when a baby in the womb is discovered to have an “abnormality?”  Why do we celebrate a person with a fatal – or even just potentially fatal – illness choosing to shorten their life even further, knowing that there are many cases where a person outlives a doctor’s prediction?  How come while we champion our improved attitudes towards mental health that we have countries where over 50% of babies discovered to be at risk of having Down syndrome are aborted?

And it just makes me sick to my stomach when someone says of a quadriplegic, “What kind of life is that?”  Who are we to judge the quality of someone’s life, huh?  Who are we to put our fellow human beings down, when there are so many who have succeeded – no, thrived – under similar circumstances?  Just listen to the stories of people whose lives are more vibrant than many “able” people you know.

In Christianity, we serve a God that gives life to all who ask to receive it, every single one of us.  He is a God of life abundant, and in His eyes we are all precious.  Some people will say, if God is good, why did He allow/create disabilities?  Because obviously being disabled means you can’t have life abundant, right?  Wrong.  God is not hindered by our disabilities, which we all have, be they physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, or any or all of them combined.  Christ will breathe life into you in ways you would never imagine.  I do not say this to make less of our struggles, for they are real and they can be very painful, very difficult to overcome, but at the same time Christ makes all things easy in Him, as long as we surrender them to Him.

If you are reading this, know that you are most ardently loved.  Whatever your circumstances, you are not “lesser” to the King of Kings, in fact you are infinitely important to Him.  He understands your pain, and He will give you life in return if you want it.

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