The Netherlands is on the way to becoming the first country to legalize euthanasia, or assisted dying. The lower house of parliament recently voted to legalize it, and the upper house is expected to follow next year.
This is a hard issue. I don't know anyone who doesn't feel compassion for the people whose lives stand behind all the debates about it. Whose heart wouldn't go out to those who feel so beaten by suffering or hopelessness that they want to end it all? I've had some hard times myself, but I've never been driven to the point of wanting to give up my life.
I do remember one time, as a kid, being so worried about the future that I wished I'd never been born. That's the closest I've come to desiring an end to life. I have since grown into a generally happy adult with a good marriage and a constructive career.
More important, I have a growing awareness of my own and everyone's relationship with God that I feel enables me to be of help to other people. Suppose, as a child, my wish had been granted, and I had never been born? What a waste of a good life that would have been!
But what about a life that seems spent? Is there a point at which life isn't worth living? Maybe no one can presume to answer that question for anyone else. But my intuition is that there's always a basis for hope. At any stage of life it's possible to gain a spiritual perspective that brings healing from pain - physical and emotional - and other problems.
My spiritual journey has given me glimpses that real life - the spiritual life God gives everyone - is painless and joyful. This divine Life is our actual life even now. We couldn't give it up if we were to try, because it's the eternal Life of everyone, despite any appearance to the contrary.
In many kinds of circumstances, I've found that praying for an understanding of God as my Life has healed me. For example, I've been cured of long-standing sinus and circulation problems.
Understanding life as spiritual, eternal, completely good, gives me a better, more hopeful focus for living every day. It's true that when thought changes for the better, so does one's whole experience. Referring to this power of spiritual understanding to heal mind and body, the Founder of Christian Science, Mary Baker Eddy, wrote: "When it is learned that disease cannot destroy life, and that mortals are not saved from sin or sickness by death, this understanding will quicken into newness of life. It will master either a desire to die or a dread of the grave, and thus destroy the great fear that besets mortal existence" ("Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," pg. 426.)
Everyone has something significant to give to the world. If the thought comes that you want to take your life, these words from a hymn about a different kind of "life-taking" are worth considering:
Take my life, and let it be
Consecrated, Lord, to Thee.
Take my moments and my days,
Let them flow in ceaseless praise.
Letting God use your life for His purposes is liberating. It heals. It leads to new opportunities to love and encourage others. This divine "life-taking" is really life-giving. It can occur at any time. Letting God use your life for good is more than putting a positive spin on an awful dilemma. It offers a healing solution.
When thou passest through
the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they
shall not overflow thee: when
thou walkest through the fire,
thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee.
For I am the Lord thy God, the Holy One of Israel, thy Saviour.
(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society