Assisted dying and my tortured heart

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I’ve felt ambushed by the BBC over the last few months.

They’ve published a series of heart-wrenching articles and clips about assisted dying: ‘Change to law to spare me a painful death’, ‘Doctors drop opposition to assisted dying.’ Keeping people alive ‘can be construed as torture’

They make my heart ache. They’re too close to home.

Understandable pain

My dad’s had Parkinson’s disease since I was a child – in fact, I can’t remember him without it. I used to look for his ‘shaky hand’ and then hold the other.

But over the years I’ve watched it slowly and unstoppably rob him of so much that he valued and prized – his dignity, as these articles would call it.

Now he’s often confused about where he is, hardly able to do anything for himself. So I watch and read stories about assisted dying with a tortured heart.

I feel the pain of those who suffer with incurable, dignity-stealing illnesses and those who watch loved ones change in front of their eyes.

And I also understand why they might feel that assisted dying is the kindest way forward. But above my own understanding, I cling desperately to the promises of God (Proverbs 3:5).

Indescribable value

I know that God sees dignity, worth, and purpose even when we can’t (1 Samuel 16:7). He cares for each person and the value he gives us isn’t dependent on our physical abilities (Psalm 139:13-16).

I also know that death belongs to him alone (1 Samuel 2:6).

So I trust in this God who shares in our sufferings (Isaiah 63:9), who hears these difficult and painful questions, and who will never abandon us (Isaiah 49:14-16).

In the middle of our struggles and suffering, God weeps with and walks alongside us. Above all, he gently reminds us to trust in him when it’s so easy to turn to our own wisdom.