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UPDATE: Since the time of this writing there have been some new developments in the Brittany Maynard story.

 

This is one of those weeks when I can’t just talk about what I am supposed to be talking about. Day after tomorrow a young lady, not even yet 30, has determined she will die by euthanasia because she can’t bear the thought of a painful death from the devastating form of brain cancer which is slowly killing her. My heart is heavy for Brittany Maynard. I couldn’t help but post on the page created by an anonymous Facebook user. The page is called “We Love Brittany Maynard.”

This is what I wrote: “Dear Brittany. I will never meet you here, but a part of you has touched my heart deeply. You have thoroughly considered and ordered your steps in this journey that is yours only, but I want you to know that in deciding to go alone you have touched off a storm. There are hundreds of thousands of hearts beating with your heart right now even if you can’t feel it. And my prayer and hope is that you will decide to let that heart beat a little longer or a lot. You are in my prayers today. November 1, for those of us who come from a certain part of the world, marks the ‘Day of the Dead.’ Could it possibly become the ‘Day of the Living’ for you? We need you to hang on a little longer, even if we are being selfish, because your beauty has touched all of us. ‘We love because He loved us first.’”

Across this great nation and the world there are countless people praying for Brittany. Not everyone is blasting her out of the park at the hour of her greatest need. To attempt to score a theological point at a time someone is most vulnerable would be cruelty of the worst kind. I will let God settle that and will refuse to be anything but charitable toward someone who has looked at darkness and decided it is too thick for her. But oh how I pray that she will change her mind!

I may sound a little melancholic here but this is because this has been a week filled with the ups and downs of emotions for me and not all of them involve total strangers I will never meet. In Brazil, my youngest brother was robbed at gun point. They took his car and his wallet. The car was recovered the next day and the rest of the stuff will eventually be replaced, but how does one heal from the shock of being violated for the simple reason of having stuff that one has worked so hard to get?

My extended family is gathering in Brazil to celebrate the matrimony of one of my nephews. Sadly, none of my immediate family is able to attend. In talking to my mom on the phone a couple of days ago, I heard of her own experience dealing with pain from arthritis, but even more unsettling to me, the sadness over the knowledge of my dad’s impeding journey into eternity. She finds herself crying more frequently, considering what her life will be like after his passing. Having lived with him for more than 60 years now, you can’t blame her for considering the meaning of the absence of the giant figure in her life. My father will be 88 on November 13 and my mom is 10 years younger. She got married when she was only 16.

Though I too am forced to consider my father’s death, I tease myself that the man will never die. Every Sunday he is still faithfully preaching at the new church plant he volunteered to head up after he stepped down as senior pastor of the church where he served for over 55 years. And my mom keeps telling me that his constant companion, the Bible, still lies open on his chest when he falls asleep. Lately, my father has told the family in no uncertain terms: “I have lived long enough to do whatever I want, so don’t try to tell me what to do.” And don’t dare ask him chapter and verse for that. He just might come up with something.

Between Brittany Maynard, my brother, my nephew, my parents and the daily burdens of decision-making at work, I feel somewhat closer to the destitute widow about whom I’ll be speaking this Sunday (Mark 12:41-44). She had her own litany of troubles and probably would have gladly welcomed death for that might have been easier than the struggle to survive day-to-day. This woman had nothing going for her, except she managed to get the attention of the Master as He watched people come to the temple and bring their offerings.

Sometimes, in the midst of the greatest perplexities of life, death being just the most obvious one, many people desire nothing more than to know that perhaps they are not in this alone. Brittany Maynard perhaps knows this now. My nephew who is getting married, when he caught my mother crying recently, told her, “Grandma, you will have to get used to the idea that one day grandpa will no longer be around. But one thing for sure: you will not be alone.” My brother who was robbed immediately felt the helping hands of other family members and friends who came to his rescue.

But when everyone else fails to notice, it is comforting to me to know that Jesus had an eye of compassion for one nameless widow who was forgotten by the world and whose sight was blurred by the noise and flamboyance of the pompous religious leaders who thought they were the only show in town. Isn’t it interesting? Jesus’ eyes always seem to turn to where the most vulnerable ones sit. He is now looking at people like Brittany and I just hope that she will look back at Him. And He is looking at you too and saying: “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” (Hebrews 13:5).

Pastor Ivanildo C. Trindade

Lead Pastor, Grace Church, Lititz, PA

 

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