Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of October 1, 2007
Choose to live your life and bear your cross
Life is a journey of peaks and sorrow-filled valleys
My Glass is Half Full
By MARK PICKUP
The Alberta Pro-Life Society recently sent me a link to the most profound one-minute video called In the Blink of an Eye. It moved me beyond words.
I invite you to go to the link (www.aish.com/movies/blinkofeye.asp) and view the video for yourself.
You will see a Jewish man named Dr. Rachamin Melamed-Cohen. He is completely immobilized with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) - also known as Lou Gehrig's disease. Dr. Melamed-Cohen exhorts us to "choose life."
Quality of life?
Some people may wonder why a man in such a difficult and degenerative physical position would not only choose life, but advocate it? After all, the brave new world of modern bioethics would likely assert he does not have a life worth living or that his quality of life is insufficient and yet he says only one thing: "Choose life." Why?
Dr. Melamed-Cohen has explained elsewhere, "I feel at times that G-d has allowed me to live in order to show the world that even in such a condition one can continue to be creative and contribute to society. . . .
Till the last moment
"The message of Judaism is that one must struggle until the last breath of life. Until the last moment, one has to live and rejoice and give thanks to the Creator" (Rabbi Yisrael Rutman, Mercy Redefined, www.torah.org/features/firstperson/mercyredefined.html).
This makes perfect sense to me as a Christian who is seriously disabled with a different degenerative, neurological disease of multiple sclerosis. Dr. Melamed-Cohen is completely immobilized with ALS. With my aggressive version of MS, it seems that I am headed in a similar direction.
Despite this reality, I am in complete agreement with Dr. Melamed-Cohen's profoundly simple statement "Choose life" - and for the same reasons. I am called (as we all are) to rejoice and give thanks to God for the gift of life regardless of its state.
I believe with all my heart that every life has value, not just healthy lives. Life's greatest teacher is life itself. Life is a journey that involves the ecstasy and bright sun of mountaintops as well as languishing in the shadows of deep valleys.
Just as God said to Joshua, he also says to you and me: "Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go" (Joshua 1:9).
Accept your path
We must accept the path given to us with faith that God will be with us - regardless of our feelings - until we reach the gates of the celestial city and stand before Christ. St. Paul told Timothy: "This saying is trustworthy: If we have died with him we shall also live with him; if we persevere we shall also reign with him" (2 Timothy 2:11-12). The word of God is trustworthy; feelings are not.
The world does not understand the spiritual refining capacity of human suffering. Modern secular man seeks only pleasure and rejects all suffering or discomfort, unaware that it can be indispensable to human development. Of course, if this life is all there is and eternity is a myth, then what possible purpose could suffering have?
Take up your cross
To follow Christ and deny oneself by taking up one's cross means uniting our individual suffering with Christ's sacrifice of himself. He took up his cross for our sakes. It is in the state of utter submission to our individual Golgothas that spiritual transformation can begin - not despite the pain, but because of it.
Suffering produces qualities God wants us to develop - like perseverance, character and hope that does not disappoint.
We must not despair. We know we will one day stand face to face before Christ and we will know just like we are known.
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