QUESTION:
I have rheumatoid arthritis and have been in pain for years. My husband retired in part to care for me. He’s a wonderful man and would do anything for me, but all I want to do now is die. I can’t take the pain anymore; even medication can’t get rid of it all. I don’t want to hurt my husband and I can’t tell him, but I want to end it all. Can you understand why? ‑ A.L., Scottsdale, Ariz.

 

ANSWER:

Not only do I understand, but I was reminded by your words of another who suffered greatly in a physical sense.  After days of intense pain, Job came to the same conclusion as you.  "Cursed be the day of my birth, and cursed be the night when I was conceived. Let that day be turned to darkness. Let it be lost even to God on high, and let it be shrouded in darkness.  (Job 3:3-4 NLT)  The book of Job records for us the sentiments of a soul that is tortured by physical pain.  Although not many can relate to this forlorn man, I do not believe that anyone would question his or your desire to put an end to that pain.  In fact, mankind has so identified with your dilemma that they have begun to embrace the concept of assisted suicide.

 But let me help you just for a moment to think past the pain.  People many times resort to death over pain because they have no alternative.  Because you have written for spiritual consideration, may I encourage you to remember that God offers you an alternative?  You may know that Job suffered, but did you know that the outcome of his pain was a greater capacity to experience the presence and love of God?  When we come to that place in our own human strength, when we feel that we are unable to continue, that is the place God desires to under gird us with a supernatural ability to endure, if not for our own sake, for the sake of others.  Although ending your life might stop your immediate suffering, it would not be the end of the matter for your husband. 

 As one who sits with those who are left behind by a loved one, please let me encourage you to hold onto the obvious love you have for your husband and his for you in fighting the natural desire to stop hurting.  I cannot tell you how many times a husband or wife has wept bitterly on my shoulder over not being able to have just one more conversation or hold their beloved’s face in their hands.  Allow God, through prayer, to give you the strength to fight your desire to quit.  And don’t forget that God is willing to work not just through the supernatural, but also natural means.  

 There is a very interesting story in 2 Kings 20, concerning one of Israel’s Kings that shows the delicate balance God uses between our physical world and faith.  King Hezekiah was suffering from a disease and had been told that he that was going to die.  He turned to God in prayer and the Lord responded to his faith by answering his prayer and giving him another 15 years of life.  However, God healed him through the practical application of medical treatment to his body.  I give you this example from God’s Word to show you that God is willing to meet you at your point of need through not only the medical means of pain management, but also through the supernatural empowerment of prayer. 

So, while I do understand your human desire to “end it all,” I pray that you will consider the ramifications that decision would have on your husband and that you would allow God, through prayer, to strengthen you so that you, too, would be able to say with Job:  "I had heard about you before, but now I have seen you with my own eyes. I take back everything I said, and I sit in dust and ashes to show my repentance." (Job 42:5-6 NLT). 

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