This week we wrap up our series on perspective during difficult times.
We started out with situational perspective, as we walked alongside a man who was distressed with his own circumstances of having no shoes, until he wandered upon someone who had no feet. His perspective was changed by the circumstances of others.
The next week we looked at how we can often transform our perspective, even in difficult times, through a man who had experienced the death of all three of his children. He gave us insight into the power we have to choose a transformational perspective, even in the most difficult circumstances.
And the final two weeks we touched upon our perspective, on this side of eternity and on the other side, through the eyes of a child, the story of a dragonfly and power found within keeping an eternal perspective.
This week we will close with a view that attempts to grasp, in some small way, God’s perspective. A view that is much bigger than ours, more eternally focused than ours, and one that knows the impact of difficult circumstances we endure with a perspective that we will one day understand more completely.
This story shares a perspective from this side of eternity, to the other side, and back again, through the power of the gift of life.
alking back from the mailbox I glanced at the envelopes, quickly classifying what had been delivered. Junk, junk, bill, bill, magazine, more junk, offers to paint my house, offers to mow my lawn, a “not sure” envelope, another “not sure” envelope, a “could be interesting” envelope, and more junk.
I go through this routine each time I go to the mailbox. My goal is to have determined what is junk and throw it in the recycling bin before I walk back into the house, so as to minimize the amount of mail, and focus my attention.
In this digital age it has become more and more unusual for people to receive handwritten notes. So, as marketing companies have also discovered, a handwritten name and address, on the front of an envelope, generally means it’s “an opener.” Little did I know that one letter I classified as “an opener” that day, would open my heart and include both an earthly and divine message.
A mere glimpse of God’s perspective.
The letter was from a young lady. I didn’t know who she was, but she went on to tell me that she had been the recipient of my son’s liver. She was now in her early twenties, and had been 14 when she received the donated organ. She let me know that she had, after receiving his liver, decided to become a nurse…a pediatric nurse…a career in helping children made possible by a child who had given life to her.
Years before…as my son laid in a bed in ICU, just a few hours away from meeting God, there was a 14 year old girl, in desperate need of a liver, to save her life. God had listened to, most likely, parallel prayers from two moms, prayers seeking the same answer from God, for their child to live. His ever so gentle “No” to me became the “Yes” for another mom. These prayers, with different answers, came from the same loving God who compassionately and mercifully walks us through all of His answers…if we let Him.
There are so many people today that find themselves in “parallel prayers” or will someday find themselves in those most difficult of prayers. So what should the Church, as a whole, and individual Christians do when placed in the difficult circumstance of dealing with death, yet being given the simultaneous opportunity to save a life?
The church has concerned itself, and quite rightly, with the need for people to hear the gospel of Jesus and our responsibilities to spread the Gospel as commanded in the Great Commission. But have they addressed their role, as it relates to the Greatest Commandment, by loving others and becoming a “partner with God” in healing people and saving lives through an active organ donation outreach? So, what is the real need out there? Is it a great enough need for the body of Christ to prioritize?
According to the US Department of Health and Human Resources’ Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network (“OPTN”) there are currently 114,890 people on waiting lists for organs. Of these, there are currently 3,045 individuals on waiting lists in North Carolina. Almost half of those individuals have been on waiting lists for over two years.
I think it more powerful, and also more accurate, to say there are over 114,000 families on waiting lists. Those families are either directly or indirectly, impacted by the organ shortage, and length of time on the lists. Their lives are 24/7 impacted daily by pain and suffering with a very reduced quality of life, with death a very likely outcome, if an organ is not made available.
We are talking about 6 year old children, 20 year old young adults, mothers and fathers with young children, nurses, pastors, people with a life ahead of them that with medical intervention will not die for possibly many, many, years.
As a whole, the Church takes on a passive approach, and leaves it to their individual members to “make this very personal choice.” That choice is often an uneducated, non-faith based decision, made in times of crisis, which results in the gift of life literally being buried through ignorance. Yes, being in the position of making this decision is an incredibly hard place to be in, but once you are in it, one must focus on the appropriate loving Christian response to a suffering world. A devastated, yet simple utterance of the word “Yes” can save lives.
“A devastated, yet simple, utterance of the word ‘Yes’ can save lives”
The church actively promotes the concept of gifts of money to the church, but not gifts of life within the body of Christ. They will have sermons, bible studies and workshops on being good stewards of your money, but how about good stewards of your body through the gift of life?
The church will actively support pro-life groups which try to save the unborn, yet turn away from what lives they can save, that have been born, by taking no stance or a passive stance on organ donation.
Christian ethicists and the Church will have strong positions on life, from the moment of conception and fight vigorously to inform others of the value of life, that we are made in God’s image, that life is sacred, that we must do everything in our power to defend life, that we must never agree to hasten the death of others, for example through euthanasia or withholding drugs. But the Church passively stands by as over 100,000 people face chronic pain and, in most cases death, by deciding to say “It’s a very personal issue, and we leave it up to the family”.
However it is this very “right” to privacy and a person’s body, that the Church overrides in its argument against abortion. Why? because there is someone else’s life at stake. Yes, it is different…but is it really? Why is preventing the death of a two month old fetus more worthy of our attention than preventing the death of a 12 year old child? Why does the Church spend so much time communicating its pro-life stance on abortion, educating people, supporting those with difficult pregnancy decisions, but leave those people facing death decisions uneducated and not supported on a pro-life position on the other end of life?
Supporting a pro-life position on the other end of life…
Consider this hypothetical, which is not at all unreasonable in its underlying premise. What if Billy Graham, at the age of 20, had needed a lifesaving organ transplant. But due to organ shortages, Graham did not receive this gift of life, and had passed away. This great man of God would have died without impacting millions around the world, throughout his very long life. Or think about the unbelievers, that would be impacted by the selfless act of a Christian donating their organs, and giving those individuals not only physical life, but an opportunity, in the future, to give their lives to Christ and, as a result, giving them a chance at eternal life as well?
These aren’t bizarre hypothetical scenarios, these can be very real. There are incredible servants of Christ that make up some of those 114,890 people on waiting lists and there are, for sure, thousands upon thousands of unbelievers on those lists who can be impacted eternally by being removed from the list, by the charitable loving act of a Christian, instead of being taken off the list due to their death.
So what must the church do? It must educate, communicate and be shining examples to the world around us, of our love for others. What an extremely powerful witness to the world, that we actively promote the gift of life to a suffering world around us.
Next week we will discuss ways in which churches can take this issue, and other issues, forward to help reach out to others in this broken world in which we find ourselves.
For further information on Organ Donation go to www.unos.org.
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