Europe has been buzzing with fresh questions about euthanasia in recent weeks.
A few days ago, a couple in their 80s committed suicide in a French hotel, leaving a note expressing disgust that their government deprived them of the right to a more "dignified" death. They didn't want to risk life without each other, so chose to die together.
Last month, the tragedy of Nancy / Nathan hit the headlines. Born a girl, but rejected at an early age, she pursued gender reassignment surgery, surgery that didn't help allay the feelings of "ugliness". In the face of unbearable emotional torment, this precious human being sought euthanasia in Belgium. After counselling, the request was granted ... She died. Her mother apparently wasn't bothered. She didn't want to live with a body that didn't measure up ...
My conversations are unlikely to hit the headlines but in recent months I've spoken people who have said they don't want to live if they have to stay single ... if they have to stay childless... if they have to face constant pain ...
Recently published statistics from the Netherlands show that the number of deaths by euthanasia rose by 13% last year to an all time high of 4,188. There are a lot of people in the world who are saying, I don't want to live if ...
But it doesn't end there - in countries where euthanasia is already legal - there are increasing calls for elderly people with advanced dementia or children with profound disabilities to be granted death, even though they clearly would not be in a position to give their informed consent. Some people don't want their relatives to live, if ...
I'm not proud. I don't mind admitting I'm typing this with tears in my eyes.
I'm welling up because I hate the effects of sin in this world. I wish the fall had never happened. A life full of pain is not the life I want for any other human being. And I do understand the impulse to want to make the suffering go away. Surely, compassion accompanied by practical support is the right response to any story of torment...
I'm on the verge of crying because the gospel has so much to say to people who are feeling lonely, childless, burdened, scared or unloveable ... It is a gospel of salvation, inclusion, security, comfort and hope. It's a gospel which changes lives but a message that, even in our age of information and communication, still isn't reaching enough people's ears.
I want to cry because people all over the world are believing the lie that to die without faith, at a time of your own choosing, is a route to freedom.
And I want to weep because God is dishonoured when we refuse to turn to him in our pain but instead look to our own solutions.
The pain of life and the drive for euthanasia are utterly tragic. Of course, one day the pain will end for all those who love Jesus. In the mean time, let's sink to our knees and pray for the world to stop saying, "I want to die if ... " and begin to say "My life is in your hands, Lord ..."
For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.
My frame was not hidden from you
when I was made in the secret place,
when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes saw my unformed body;
all the days ordained for me were written in your book
before one of them came to be.