“I’m a nurse, and I’ve seen children suffer senselessly. It’s far more merciful to allow them to die than to suffer.”
“If we humanely euthanize pets, why can’t we do the same for people? I see nothing wrong with this.”
These, and other, statements reverberate in my mind in the aftermath of the recent Belgium child euthanasia headline. At one point in my life, I would have been tempted to believe these points. Admittedly, I didn’t see suffering as anything other than ugly, painful, and unnecessary.
When my daughter, Sarah, was born with a rare craniofacial anomaly, I only saw her flaws at first. Each time I held her, I noticed her fused fingers and toes or her scrunched up face. And every time I honed in on these imperfections, I was horrified and troubled by the sufferings she—and our family—would endure.
Sarah’s first surgery was at the age of six months. She had to have her skull cut open, because it had been prematurely fused and wouldn’t otherwise allow her brain room to grow. This surgery terrified me. It was gut-wrenching to watch an innocent baby undergo such an unfathomably gruesome procedure, and in my helpless condition, I uttered a prayer I’ll always regret: “Lord, it would have been more merciful if you had taken Sarah to Heaven while she was still in my womb.”
Shamefully, I thought that her suffering—because of her innocence as a newborn—was without merit and senseless. I’d never felt so helpless before in my entire life, and all I wanted was to assuage her pain. It was the gravest injustice I’d ever been privy to witness, but shortly thereafter I realized all of the world’s injustices that I’d somehow been blinded to before—childhood cancer, horrendous poverty, carnage, racism, etc.
The Lord may want to teach us something in the midst of such fiery refinement as the crucible of suffering.
But in that piteous rage, I chose to seek God. I knew His perfect will had nothing to do with the horrific tragedies we see on a daily basis in the news—the race riots, murder-suicides, earthquakes and tornadoes, floods and famine. But I also knew that His permissive will allowed suffering to exist—even in a child.
Is it sufficient to say that no one truly knows why. We can surmise that the Lord may want to teach us something in the midst of such fiery refinement as the crucible of suffering, which is true. But it never seems fair, and in fact, appears to be cruel punishment. All for what?
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