A people of hope, says guest blogger Sean Miller, must respond to the suffering of others with compassion and solidarity — and reject the solutions of abortion and euthanasia.
Life Is Good
In 1989, brothers Bert and John Jacobs began selling designer T-shirts out of an old van in the streets of Boston.
At first, they were not very successful. Then, one day they put a smiling stick figure on a shirt with the phrase “Life Is Good.” Bingo! They sold 48 shirts in under an hour. That was only the beginning of their adventures that made their company an international success.
One day, my co-worker Jack – a good-natured guy with a sunny disposition — came into my classroom wearing a “Life Is Good” T-shirt. We started to joke around about the message on the shirt. But I noticed that whenever he wore it, it seemed to give rise to good feelings in us, and those around us. I think it subliminally made us aware of how much we had to be thankful for. Yes, it reminded us, life is very good!
But recently, I was thinking about another dimension of that simple, but profound phrase. And that is: All stages of life are good – filled with dignity and deserving of respect.
However, our society often finds it hard to see that. It seems more and more like a world where those in need are regarded as an inconvenience. Or, even more chilling, a world obsessed with removing all suffering, at any cost.
Take three groups where the frailty of human life is most apparent — the unborn, the disabled, and the elderly.
Since 1973, the unborn have been denied their most fundamental right — the right to life.
We do not want them, but we refuse to put them up for adoption. Somehow, that is just unthinkable. How is ending a baby’s life even an alternative when adoption is acceptable and available? Finding a home where they can be wanted and loved — is that too much to ask?
Those that are disabled rely on all of us to be patient and caring. As a people of God we are called to love. Sometimes this love requires a great deal of sacrifice.
We find out quickly that real love isn’t about flowers and a box of chocolates. Rather, it’s about sticking it out when you only want to run away. It’s about remaining silent when you want to scream. It’s about giving one more time, when all you really want is find some time for yourself.
God gives us the strength to love, and we need to implore Him for the gifts of patience and perseverance. If we answer the call to love without measure, those who are disabled can teach us lessons that we will carry with us for a lifetime.
The elderly offer us a lifetime of experience, full of wisdom to be treasured. But as they get older, frailties of mind and body become evident. Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and dementia rob the elderly of their freedom. A broken hip can quickly sideline a person, which can rapidly lead to a permanent state of immobilization.
Yet, we have to remember that God is with us. Our Lord allowed Himself to be frail and vulnerable up until His very last breath. He did this so we may all have life and have it abundantly.
All throughout our lives we are challenged with suffering. Of course, nobody enjoys suffering but when we “walk through the fire,” we can come out of it a better and stronger person. And this true for the elderly, too, as they undergo, perhaps, their last trials before they go to the Lord.
Obviously, we seek out to relieve the suffering of our loved ones. But it can be very difficult to bear with. And today, many have gone so far as to say, “If somebody is suffering greatly or severely disabled, just end their life. Why let them suffer needlessly?”
They say the elderly and the terminally ill should have the “right” to end their own lives, as an act of mercy, with the blessings of the state.
These proponents of euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide have lost sight of the true value of suffering.
As a people of life, we are called to be a people of hope. We are called to alleviate the pain of those who suffer, by sharing in it. And this isn’t easy, because we’re human, and we want our loved one’s pain to end. But by standing by their side with compassion in their time of need, we can bring them solace.
Mother Mary showed us this by her example as she remained with Jesus to the end at the foot of the cross. Let us stay closely united to the elderly as they endure their sufferings.
The unborn, the disabled, and the elderly remind us of the frailty of life. They show us all how utterly dependent we are on God. The challenges that come our way are an opportunity for us to grow and an invitation to love during difficult times.
In this way, we will all see the beauty that can come out of suffering and realize that, even in these situations, “life is good.”
For more blogs by Sean, just search for “Sean Miller” in the box in the upper right corner of the home page.