When the odds are against you when there’s no way out of the suffering, why choose life? What does scripture say about choosing life?
Why should I choose life? — It’s a question that presents itself to many people struggling under severe circumstances. When the odds are against you when there’s no way out of the suffering, why choose life? What does scripture say about choosing life amid these circumstances, and what role (if any) should Christians play in influencing these decisions?
Choosing Life Can Be Hard
Image for a moment, you receive bad news from your doctor. The treatments have failed. He or she says you can endure the next six months of pain, or they can provide you a gentle slip into an endless sleep. Or maybe it’s not physical anguish that concerns you. Perhaps it’s mental or emotional: you’ve endured years of crippling depression and anxiety. Then again, it might be the life of your loved one in question. Imagine the shock and inner turmoil when a doctor comes to you, grief in their eyes, and tells you that your precious baby has Nemaline Myopathy. Maybe he or she says that your elderly mother’s health is rapidly failing, and they predict the next year of her life to be lacking in quality and comfort.
While most of us can’t imagine what it’s like to face these kinds of choices, many do. In these heartbreaking cases, choosing what looks like a life of suffering over a quiet death, might seem like a merciful option. Thankfully, there are hopeful truths that offer motivation for choosing life, even in the face of hopelessness.
Running the Race
The Bible contains several scriptures concerning life-long challenges. One of the better-known cases of this is the struggle of the Apostle Paul.
The Thorn in Paul’s Side
Paul struggled with a mysterious condition that he referred to as a “thorn” in his flesh. The most we know of Paul’s struggle is that it caused Paul grief and that Paul was spiritually harrased because of it. Whether the “thorn” was spiritual, physical, or a combination of both, his response to God sets the example of how Christians can respond to life’s intimidating challenges.
“So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 Corinthians 12:7-10)
Paul insists that, although his “thorn” was the cause of much pain and suffering, it was used for the glory of God. Knowing Paul’s personal struggles gives a deeper meaning to Paul’s charge to believers in the book of Hebrews.
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Hebrews 12:1-3)