Has your family ever wrestled with a life and death crisis? Have you ever been forced to wonder:
"Are we prolonging Grandpa's life, or just causing him pain, or should we 'let him go?'"
"The doctors say she has no chance of coming out of this coma. She is only a child! Do we keep her alive any longer?"
"He says he refuses to be a burden on us, he feels like he would be taking something away from someone who needs it more. He says he will kill himself first."
These plain, flat words do not carry the distress of such a time, not at all. On the inside of the crisis we might feel no one understands our private pian, on the outside looking in we might feel that these are all private crises, with private choices to be made.
Joni reminds us "These crises are not private. While straining to cope with their own pain, people are learning that they are part of a confusing debate in society over medical issues ranging from physician-assisted suicide to rationed health care...The pain and confusion expressed by people in crisis has made it fashionable to (and compassionate according to some) to talk about a simple yet deadly solution: Give it up. It's not worth the pain."
I have felt since I first met her books that Joni was the woman to talk about life, death and suicide/euthanasia.
She knew the desperation of daily pain- let her tell you about it! "I had absolutely no idea of how I could find purpose in just existing day after day- waking, eating, watching tv, sleeping. Why on earth should a person be forced to live out such a dreary existence? How I prayed for some accident or miracle to kill me. The mental and spiritual anguish was as unbearable as the physical torture."
What if it is not a loved one you are watching- what if it is you? How do you answer these questions- of meaning, of the value of life, or personhood. How do you refute the lie that function determines value in a society where human life is increasingly cheapened?
"The questions seem impossible. How could there be any answers? How am I supposed to know what to do? You don't." Where shall we go for true answers to these questions? Joni continues, "But God does...I am convinced of this logic because of what God has promised. In Christ, He says, "Are hidden all treasures of wisdom and knowledge."
It is very easy to plead ignorance when faced with an impersonal voting ballot on which we are asked yea or nay to euthanasia and assisted suicide, and say "It's none of my business- they want to die it is their right-it does not affect me!"
But we are deceived if we think so. Their death by assisted suicide/euthanasia will affect us. As Joni points out- the logical end of euthanasia is sheer terror, and what we write into law now will affect the next generation of disabled people who will be pressured into taking the "safe and legal" option we gave them. This is part of the fundamental truth of euthanasia- it is sold to us as the right to die- and all too soon becomes the duty to die for the good of society. Die- you are taking up a bed. Die, you are using up rationed health care. Die, you no longer serve the state.
Whether you are the child of an elderly father who is afraid he is "taking up room", or a desperate young person who says "It is my choice-" it isn't yours alone.
Your choice matters to others- even people you don't think care would be devastated. There is somebody who cares.
Your Choice Matters to God. The One who gave your your Life and sustains it.
Your choice matters to the enemy. The whisper in your ear to take your life? That comes form the one who wishes you would be murdered. Your enemy has been a murderer from the beginning.
Joni explains these points in her logical, compassionate way, explaining the stories of people who chose to die and those who fought to live. I recommend this book for anyone interested in a response to assisted suicide/euthanasia. Joni has filled her book with her own testimony, stories from friends and family, and scholarly research about euthanasia and suicide.
I was blessed to receive The Life and Death Dilemma for a review from Zondervan.
You may read the First Chapter Free.
Joni Tada is an advocate for disabled people and is the founder of Joni and Friends Ministries. She is a beloved wife, friend, and speaker as well as the author of may fine books including two reviewed here When God Weeps and Diamonds in the Dust. For rich theology lived out in daily life, read Joni Tada. Joni and Ken Tada, outside of Joni and Friends.