This will be my last Tuesday post for a while.
I have lots of reasons:
- My new job is taking more time than I expected, especially during the growing season.
- We’re expecting lots of houseguests this summer and I want to focus on them while they’re here.
- I have less time to simply think about things, and I don’t want to write meaningless posts just to meet a schedule.
Perhaps when the weather turns cold, and all the hikers and gardeners go inside, when our guests go home again, when I have some down time to mull over what God’s teaching me—then I’ll go back to posting twice a week. For now, I need a break! And remember to check for something new every Friday. See you then!
Pete and I have a cat. Her name is Misty, because she’s that color—a pretty silvery gray with undertones of orange calico. She has long fur, a loud purr, and is quite personable when she’s getting her way. We’ve had Misty since she was about five inches long. She had been at the Humane Society all of an hour when we arrived and adopted her. That was back in 1995. Yes, Misty is approaching her 19th birthday!
For the most part, she doesn’t show her age. She’s still fat and sassy. With her remaining teeth she manages to put away a healthy portion of canned cat food (fish please), plus a pile of dry kibble.
The problem is that she appears to be getting senile. She no longer licks her beautiful coat, so she’s greasy and smelly and I have to give her baths, which she absolutely abhors. Her long fur gets matted, and soiled kitty litter gets stuck to her rear. You can imagine how fun that is to get out.
Worst of all, she often no longer chooses to use her litter box. I’m constantly cleaning up puddlest. (She does use it on occasion, so I know she’s capable.) We’ve had to barricade her into a portion of my office, which has impermeable flooring. No more cat shedding on the sofa or purring on my pillow at night.
Pete, not being a cat person, thinks she’s lived long enough and is ready to take her final ride to the vet. I am a cat person, and this is hard to contemplate. After all, she’s still enjoying life, such as it is. It’s just that we’re not enjoying her.
As I explained our dilemma to our daughter (Misty’s favorite human), we got off on a rabbit trail and ended up talking about euthanasia. She mentioned that, with carefully defined and enforced limits, she was in favor of it—which got me thinking. Why do we consider it acceptable, even noble, to end the suffering of our sick or elderly pets, but not do the same for one another?
I’ve long been against euthanasia laws such as the one passed in Oregon, but I never really examined my reasoning. It was more a gut reaction that this is wrong and against God’s will. Now, in conversation with my daughter, I tried to explain why.
The Bible says that God knows the length of our life before we’ve lived a single day of it (see Psalm 139:16). On the day we are born, He knows how we will die. Our suffering doesn’t surprise him. Instead, it has purpose:
Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us. (Romans 5:3-5)
God doesn’t waste a minute of our lives. Everything that we experience has the goal of making us more like Jesus, right up until the moment we see Him in person, face to face. But there’s more. We are God’s ambassadors to a world that needs to know Him. People are watching us. How we live our lives can influence many others.
We’ve had a number of friends who have died, mostly from cancer. Dying wasn’t fun. They were often uncomfortable, even with morphine and other drugs. It was hard to say good-bye to friends and family, knowing it would likely be a long time before everyone is reunited in heaven.
We’ve also lost relatives who did not know God, most recently my father. There is a world of difference. My dad did not believe in an afterlife. He had nothing to look forward to but the knowledge that every day would be worse—and then he would cease to exist.
The believers, on the other hand, were anticipating their deaths as the beginning of something far, far better. They had the joy of the Lord in the middle of their sufferings. The medical staff taking care of them noticed, to the point of commenting to friends and family who came to visit. Those dying became a glorious witness to God’s love.
My favorite story is about an older, dear man in the last stages of cancer. When he passed away, the nurses were astonished. He had so much peace and joy that they thought he still had weeks of life left to live. In his final moment, a huge smile brightened his face. He literally shone. And then he died. I’ve always wondered, what did he see?
God doesn’t promise an easy way out. He promises to be with us in the hard times. Euthanasia robs us of the opportunity both to know God better and to share Him with others. God knows what He’s doing. As Psalm 116:15 says, “Precious in the sight of the Lord Is the death of His saints.”