Choose Life

What if you do not want to pray for life? That thought ran as an undercurrent through my mind as I prayed the extra prayers during the Ten Days of Repentance that culminate with Yom Kippur – the Day of Atonement. Many of those prayers plead with God for the opportunity to live for another year. The soft whisper I heard was spurred by a beautifully written article, dictated by use of voice recognition technology because author Ben Mattlin cannot use his hands. Severely disabled from birth, he fights for life each day as he has done from infancy. During that time, he graduated from Harvard, became an accomplished financial journalist, married and raised two children, and achieved many other goals of which many healthy people only dream. In his article, he explains how much he values his life and how much value his life has. He was partially motivated to write by the legally sanctioned refusal of treatment to a fourteen-year-old born with the same birth defect as he, spinal muscular atrophy.

Mr. Mattlin, correctly in my opinion, does not judge the young girl who chose to die or her mother, family or friends. According to articles about her, Jerika Bolen faced her excruciating challenges bravely along with her loving mother. He simply wishes that she, like him, had found the will to live.

In earlier times, neither Ben Mattlin nor Jerika Bolen or their parents would have had the choice of life. They would not have survived for long no matter how loving their families or dedicated their doctors. Technology has radically changed our ability to physically sustain life, presenting us as individuals and as a society with an ever-increasing number of moral decisions. Medical advances have also provided us with expanded options for ending life. We can end the life of a fully formed baby in its mother’s womb without dramatically risking his mother’s life and know in advance of the likelihood of a baby being born with certain diseases allowing us to abort in the early stage of that pregnancy. We can transition a person into death with drugs that keep the experience pain free.

Most of us, thankfully, never need to grapple with the challenges of life that Ben Mattlin or Jerika Bolen faced. But the minute that their personal difficulties intersect with public law we are all involved. It might be that Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump share a morality and that both their moralities stand in stark contrast to mine in countless ways. Yet, we can expect them to speak, influence the culture and rule in strikingly different ways on these issues of life and death. There is no question that in individual cases, life sometimes feels like a burden rather than a blessing. Probably many of us have periods where we feel that way though with maturity we understand that those times will pass. For other people, life is so difficult and painful, that the word burden would be an understatement for the afflictions they suffer. However, society is called upon to make a stand that guides itself correctly, while sympathizing with and providing support for individuals.

This time of year when we add prayers beseeching God for life for ourselves and others is coming to a close. The prayers aren’t recommended or optional during this period. They are mandatory. In ways that my great-grandparents would not have understood, the message that life is valuable no matter its complexities,  is one that is necessary for our generation to hear.

14 thoughts on “Choose Life”

  1. I am an advocate for Pro Life as I feel that as the Creator of the universe, God has given us that life and it is to be sanctified. See, I was born to a 14 year old teenager in 1959, who had given me the chance to live, by placing me for adoption. I was adopted by loving parents and although my life was not perfect, nor did I do anything spectacular with it (so far); more importantly, l was given the chance to live. Back in those days, abortion was not common as it is today and most families; when their daughters “accidentally” became pregnant; they simply just sent them away for a while and once the baby was born, the daughters returned home. This avoided much embarrassment for the family, all the while keeping things hush, hush. I never met my birth mother, but from what I learned over the years, is that this was also likely the case with me. If I ever do meet her, I will be sure to thank her for giving me that chance to live…. no matter how my life turns out to be. I will also always give thanks to my adoptive parents, for their enduring love and patience in raising me. And finally and foremost, I want to thank my Father in Heaven for giving me every breath that I take and for a life everlasting, through His Son Yeshua.

  2. “But the minute that their personal difficulties intersect with public law we are all involved.” I enjoyed reading your article. It helped to remind me, with your special brand of soothing gentleness, why I am pro-life. It was the phrase above which brought it home for me. I have always been a person who needs to know the “why” in everything, however, through the years of political involvement I have lost sight of the reason that I care for some candidates over others. Thank you for reminding me of why I care about our political candidates.

  3. Claire Bradley-Johnston Wilmington, DE

    As a Christian, I appreciate both you and your husband’s thoughts so much! I no longer go to church because, just as Glenn Beck explained, they neither teach nor say the things they should. God forbid they mention abortion, out of wedlock births, conservative thoughts on the definition of marriage, life and death, or illegal immigration. Too many abandoned parishioners (aka – MONEY) would result! For far too many, religion has become “what I want to hear and choose to accept” rather than the timeless principles our Creator taught us. So sad! I would rather sit outside in the cold and rain with my family and actually hear and be reinforced by God’s words and wisdom then to sit indoors and learn nothing……

    1. Claire, I do hope you find a church where you can feel comfortable. It is wonderful to have a faith family and a religious leader though we can completely relate to hard it can be to find the right place.

  4. Sandy Silvaggio Forro

    thank you Susan;;;i suffer from late stage, chronic Lyme Disease;;and am disabled and home and bedbound most of the time, even though in severe pain;;my Heavenly Father has me here for His purpose;;even just to pray is a priviledge;;;in my disability it has drawn me so much more ”closer” to my Heavenly Father in an intimate way;;yes there are times when i yell at him in distress, but His spirit calms me down;;he has sustained me for over 20 yrs with this disease;;As i see so many families, even children stricken with Lyme disease God has a purpose for each one of them;;;as His Children;;my 3 son’s all had disabilities growing up but they have and always will be a “””Blessing;;; to me;;my prayer now a days is for all the children suffering from starvation, tragedy of isis, little girls given to these evil ones in marriage, all the women and children in the sex slave scandal, and especially for the babies almost full term who are ”murdered” in the womb;;and their body parts being taken out and sold;;what ”depravity;;;God please help them and us

    1. Sandy, thank you for your courageous words and for the reminder that much of the world’s suffering is at the hands of other people.

  5. My comments come from a Christian perspective. So therefore I know to call on the name of the Lord for His will to be done in all things. His character and authority always take priority over what I think or feel. I know that His blood has made a way for not only salvation, but that we might prosper and be in good health. His miracle working power can perform that which is above and beyond my thoughts and wishes. It is our duty to stay close to Him, so that we might perform those things that we were put here to do. He gives mercy to those who fear Him and grace to the humble in heart. Prayer is essential for us to have the kind of relationship that He desires from His children. He also likes for us to sacrifice praise and worship, especially in times when we do not feel like it is the natural thing to do. He is our all in all and it is by His power that holds everything together. For me that is enough to know that His will can be done in all things. Blessings in Jesus Name.

  6. Dear Susan,
    Your “musing” is one everyone should meditate on – Jew and gentile alike. I know a little boy with SMA. His symptoms began quite early and his life expectancy was less than two years. He is now past his third birthday and thanks to technology he is able to move. He is learning to speak. He is a beautiful little boy, beloved by all who meet him, though a lot of contact must be curtailed because his autonomic nervous system is not up to handling coughing from a simple cold. But our Father in Heaven sees purpose to his life. We pray for breakthroughs and miracles. In the meantime, we give thanks for the blessing of this little boy and his parents and the example of sacrificial love they live every day. Thank you for your reminder that every life is precious even, or maybe especially, when it is lived under circumstances that are challenging.

    1. Joyce, you make a wonderful point that our lives aren’t just our own – they give others opportunity to show kindness.

  7. Thank you dear Susan: Life is sooo precious, the understanding that the creator of the Universe- God, created me.. created this child- is enough- I do not need to understand the WHY??? I know that HE… values each life- that is why he sent a savior…You said it sooo perfectly…

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