Chelsea Zimmerman from Reflections of a Paralytic is posting here once a week for this month. Her posts have been great so far and we’re lucky to have her. Please read her and visit her at her own blog. Here she is:
G. K. Chesterton called suicide the “ultimate and absolute evil” because it is:
the refusal to take an interest in existence; the refusal to take the oath of loyalty to life. The man who kills a man, kills a man. The man who kills himself, kills all men; as far as he is concerned he wipes out the world. (Orthodoxy, ch. 5)
Physician assisted suicide of the terminally ill and disabled is becoming increasingly more commonly accepted in our country. While only two states in the US (OR and WA) have legalized assisted suicide (three, if you count this 2009 MT Supreme Court ruling), the “right to die” movement has launched a successful campaign based on love of comfort and radical self-autonomy.
For the most part people want to be remembered (and want to remember others) for the way they lived their lives. We want to remember only the happy times, when we and our loved ones were well and enjoying all the good things that life had to offer. Since sickness and disability are opposed to this ideal and since death is inevitable for all of us, we should at least have the option of leaving this world before succumbing to physical weakness so that we don’t have to endure a long period of pain and suffering if we don’t want to, right?
In the past 12 years of my life post-injury I have discovered that there is a certain beauty in physical weakness that our prideful world is too blind to see. That is that the awareness of the limits of our human nature is meant to lead us to put all our trust in God who wants us to rely on Him for absolutely everything. When we place our trust in God alone His divine power will shine forth in us, sustaining us in our weakness (St. Josemaria, Friends of God, 194). In other words, God uses our weakness to reveal His glory. This is the example Christ left for us that we have been instructed to follow (1 Peter 2:21).
Bruised, bloody and beaten, naked and humiliated, abandoned by his friends and loyal followers, Jesus Christ’s Passion was the greatest physical and emotional pain ever suffered. It was a great spiritual pain as well since Christ, having literally taken the full weight of human sin upon Himself, felt the bitter agony of feeling completely separated from God. And yet despite this most extreme pain, he endured. He never once cried out or begged for assistance to be “put out of His misery.” Rather, He repeatedly put His life in the hands of Almighty God, trusting in His Will and knowing that only He has the authority to take life away.
So many people like to believe, as the “right to die” movement encourages, that each of us owns our own body and should be able to be masters of our own death. But, who among us can boast of having any input whatsoever in the circumstances that brought us to life in the first place? As abortion survivor Gianna Jessen said once, “what arrogance!…Don’t you realize that you cannot make your own heart beat?”
True strength does not consist in asserting our own will and taking the matters of life and death in our own hands, but in dying to ourselves and learning total abandonment to the will of God, even if it does not make sense to us. For when we do we will be sustained by the Author of all life, free from our own selfish pride and able to endure affliction with a smile.
“My grace is sufficient for you for power is made perfect in weakness. I will rather boast most gladly of my weaknesses, in order that the power of Christ may dwell with me, for when I am weak, then I am strong.” 2 Corinth 12:9-10
Note: Chelsea blogs at Reflections of a Paralytic.