I met Beverly two years ago. She sat slumped in a wheelchair by a hallway window in the nursing home where my sisters and I volunteer. Beverly, a frail and motionless woman, just stared off into space as people walked by her. When my mom approached and took the hand that dangled over the edge of the wheelchair, Beverly didn’t even seem to recognize our presence. My mom squeezed her hand, but there was no reaction. We introduced ourselves – but again no response from Beverly. When we were ready to say goodbye and move on, my mom noticed a small crocheted cross tied to the side of Beverly’s wheelchair. Mom told her, “I see your cross. I’m a Christian too.” At that point Beverly squeezed my mom’s hand, and her eyes slowly drifted to my mom’s for a brief moment before she returned once again to her unresponsive state.
My sisters and I see many people like Beverly each week. I hear family and staff talk about what a blessing it is when someone “finally” passes away, as if the resident had no purpose while at the nursing home. I also hear the news about euthanasia and how maybe, when “quality of life” is gone, the person should be too – but I don’t believe it. I don’t believe it because I see “purpose” every time I’m at the home, if nothing else, in how much my sisters and I learn from every resident we see. I don’t know how people can think they know what God’s will is in this world, what purpose He has for each of us, or how long our lives should last on this earth. Just as every resident at the home is different, so must be the plan for each of us.
When I’m at the nursing home, I often hear people question why Dad had to have a stroke, or why Grandma was given such a burden as Alzheimer’s in her later years. In the Bible we know that Job questioned too – yet he didn’t turn away from God. He didn’t decide that he would only follow God if life was pleasant. He didn’t come to believe that he somehow knew better than God what should happen. Even when things got really bad for Job, and his wife told him that he should curse God, Job kept his faith.
When you think about what Job had to endure, our burdens seem small in comparison. Yet how often people are willing to ignore God’s will and decide for themselves whether life is worth living! I can understand how frustrating it must be to see someone like Beverly each day, someone who only seems to exist now. It looks like she’s costing a lot of time and money and not giving anything back. But she gave something back to my mother and me that day two years ago. It was a brief moment, but we still remember it. Who knows what other purpose Beverly still serves today? Only God knows the answer to that, and I guess that’s my point. Euthanasia can’t be something that we accept, because only God knows what’s best.