Life issues have been swirling around in my circumstances and in my heart these days. It just so happened that I read Kara Tippetts’ book right before the headlines hit about Brittany Maynard deciding to end her own life. Both women have bodies that are devastated by cancer, yet they are looking at the value of life in such a body in two drastically different ways. One is wringing out every ounce of life from every day she has left, focusing on finding joy in the most difficult of circumstances and on the peace that comes from resting in Christ. The other has deemed such a life unworthy of seeing through to the end, and is making plans to cut it short.
Then last Thursday I went to Indianapolis to attend True Woman ’14, a conference to encourage women to live Christ-centered lives, embracing and living out the call to biblical womanhood. One of the speakers, and one of the reasons I was so excited about going, was Joni Eareckson Tada. Joni broke her neck at age 17, and has lived 47 years as a quadriplegic. She admits that in the early days, early years even, after her injury, she wished she could die. She even tells of shaking her head violently from side to side on her pillow, trying to break her neck higher up so she could die. But she found peace in Christ and experienced a freedom and healing much deeper than mere physical. Now, although many would look at her and say, “How could such a life be worth anything?” she lives a life of fruitfulness that has impacted thousands across the globe.
Then today a dear friend went to the doctor to see the heartbeat of a baby so tiny that many people would say it wasn’t even a baby. The heartbeat wasn’t found.
It is precious.
Whether it lasts only six weeks in the womb or 99 years outside.
Whether it is lived in a body whole and strong or in a body confined to a wheelchair, completely dependent on other people for the most basic of human needs.
Whether it is experienced throughout years of blessed health, or reduced to one day at a time in a body racked by cancer.
The value of a life should have no conditions. If it is life, it is precious.
It is a very dangerous and scary thing to start assigning degrees of value to life. The range of “valuable” will ever be shrinking.
My grandmother has lived almost four years in a nursing home, in a wheelchair, unable to speak or walk after a stroke. She is not able to do much at all for herself, and definitely nothing for anyone else. Does her life not have value?
Another dear friend of mine has a baby with Down’s Syndrome. Statistics I’ve seen say that as many as 90% of babies who test positive for Down’s are aborted. Their parents see no value in such a life. Does my friend’s sweet daughter have no value?
I could tell you how my grandmother has continued to be an encouragement and light in my life, even after her stroke. I could tell you how the room lights up when that sweet 2-yr-old enters. I could tell you how my husband and I, and our children, grieved when we ourselves went to the doctor to try to hear a heart that had stopped beating in Mommy’s tummy. Twice.
But it shouldn’t matter. Those lives would have value even if they touched no one. Those lives would have value even if they weren’t “wanted.”
Value is inherent in life. You can’t have life without value.
Because every human life is created in the image of God. How could anything that bears His image be worthless?
Every human life is precious. And a society that says otherwise is on dangerous ground indeed.