Yesterday I came across an article titled, "Dying with Dignity." You might have read it, too.
A 29 year old with an incurable form of cancer has decided to choose the date of her death in the state of Oregon thanks to their Death with Dignity Act. This act gives terminally ill patients the choice of dying by lethal injection. It is a practice that is only legal in three states but it is gaining wide spread support since the story of this young woman hit the headlines.
I read many articles about this woman and countless comments about the decision she has made to choose her own death date. The cancer she has is vicious and, doctors tell her, will cause her a slow and painful death. It is a devastating prognosis and one that no one can imagine receiving unless they have themselves had such a diagnosis.
I am not here to judge her choice in dying by lethal injection. I am not in her body and did not receive the prognosis she received so I can't say unequivocally how I would handle such a situation.
But reading about this woman and about dying with dignity I couldn't help but think about Christ and His death. It certainly wasn't a death that most would call dignified. He died slowly, painfully and brutally. And He knew it was coming. His whole life was spent on the road to that brutal end. He knew every day that He was going to have to die a sacrificial death to set sinners free. It wasn't dignified. It wasn't quick. It was incomprehensibly horrific.
Yet, Jesus didn't try to get out of it early or minimize His pain. Through His death on a cross He knew that He would be fulfilling the will of God. He prayed and asked God to change the course of His life, take the cup from Him. But God didn't do that. He had a plan of salvation that only Jesus could work out. And so Jesus didn't ask His disciples to end His life early and quickly so that He wouldn't have to be crucified on a cross in front of a mocking crowd. He carried His cross, endured the nails and the slow death and asked for God's forgiveness to rest on the murderers below.
When you and I die we won't be bringing salvation to sinners. Jesus alone did that work and it was a one time gift for all of humanity. But just because we aren't saving souls doesn't mean we aren't fulfilling God's will in our death. God's name can be glorified by how we die just like it can be glorified in how we live.
There is an appointed time for each of us to be born and an appointed time for each of us to die. It is not ours to determine, it is in God's hands and it is His alone to know. How He wants to use us up until that very last moment is part of His plan. Even with our last breath we can be a voice for Him. Our peace in the face of pain can be a picture of His presence. Our relentless hope in the mist of difficulty can speak volumes to the lost.
I don't know what you're facing today. Maybe it is a death sentence of a diagnosis. Whatever your trial may be, keep living fully in Christ. He can make His name great through your life and through your death if you will allow Him to have total control. Submit your days of vitality to Him and your days of weakness. Release your will and your dignity into His care and He will use you to glorify His great name.
God has a plan for you and for me from the day we are born to the day we die. And He has those days marked out for us. They are a mystery to us but an appointment to keep in God's date book. Let Him have His way in your life and in your death and He will use you up until your final breath.