The Life and Death Dilemma Essay Sample
The Life and death Dilemma is a thought-provoking book which explores the difficult decisions Christians face when dealing with literal life or death situations. Its biblically based reasoning makes it different from other books on the market that exist. While some existentialists would argue that choosing between life and death are complex issues, this book argues that making these decisions may seem complicated, but by relying on God we can make these decisions in a way that would honor Him.
The author uses a fantastic quote by Anton Chekov to describe what it is that makes us become bogged down with troubles. Chekov says, “Any idiot can face a crisis; it’s this day to day living that wears you out.” This is absolutely true. Tada subsequently says, “Chekhov’s words were no doubt intended to be a backhanded encouragement. They elicit a knowing smile from those of us facing the day-to-day struggles of modern life–mortgages, diapers, cranky bosses, sibling fights, aches, and pains.
Such mundane troubles wear us out, and a crisis now and then can seem a welcome diversion.” One crisis can be dealt with, fixed, and handled even in a matter of minutes. But it is how we respond to the seemingly lifelong struggles that we are forced to deal with that truly become the constant stressors. What would happen if Chekhov were told of our struggles? What would he say when he found out a paper was stressing us out, or that money was going to be tight this month?
The Christian interpretation of how we live our day to day lives is very complex, and I would argue is unlike any other group of people. As Christians, we strive to go about our daily lives in a Christ-like manner.
This includes the entire lifespan-from birth until death. Joni Eareckson Tada’s argument throughout the book is that through our suffering, we can begin to see and know God on a much more intimate level. However, she never goes quite as far as to use the clichéd mass of fluff that Christian authors often give- “Everything happens for a reason,” and “When God closes a door, he opens a window.” Yes, he does-so we can jump out of it! The author actually gives real, substantive advice on how to deal with trials that God gives us.
I feel that Tada is particularly qualified to write this, as she herself has been stricken with a form of paralysis. I do not believe that anyone would say she is fortunate to have suffered, but she somehow has managed to not only draw closer to God, but to make an excellent career helping others cope. Through her thirty years in a wheelchair, the author has a very special understanding of what it is to cope with these particular struggles, in addition to how to reach for God for help.
The author also takes a unique perspective on the church’s role in helping out its members that are in need. There have been too many times when I have witnessed church members say things to the ill like, “Well, you’re probably just not praying hard enough.” Although this is obviously an incredibly inappropriate thing to say to anyone, it is also not biblically based! Tada addresses this extensively throughout her book. In addition, Tada argues that members of the church are obligated to help others, even after a diagnosis. The author states, “Our church was great in the beginning, and people were always helping me, but as the girls showed evidence of lasting problems, the help stopped.
The problem is that I need help now more than ever. I have had a nurse in the home twenty-four hours a day for two years, but they are cutting that down to nothing by Christmas because the girls are off oxygen and their ventilators.” I have witnessed this type of event happen over and over again. A woman will have a baby, and the other women within the church will get together to help bring her family dinner for the next few days. After their obligations are over, they decide there is nothing more to do to help. This is not an accurate part of living a Christian life.
The author also takes a definitive stance on what she mockingly calls “compassionate killings.” She states, “The pain and confusion expressed by people in crisis has made it fashionable (and compassionate according to some) to talk about a simple yet deadly solution: “Give it up. It’s not worth the pain.” I do think that this sometimes takes place. However, after reading and studying this book extensively, I cannot come to a conclusion as to whether or not I agree with this statement. I do believe that suicide is wrong.
I believe that murder is wrong. I believe that a doctor killing a patient that could potentially make a full recovery is wrong. But I am not sure that I could look a patient who has been suffering (and will suffer) from a degenerative disease for the past thirty years in the eye and say to them, “I’m sorry, but God wants you to live, and so you can not to do anything to end the misery you are in.” That seems to be the very opposite view of what the author considers “compassionate.” I do understand what she is saying.
She goes on to say, “While straining to cope with their own pain, people are learning that they are part of a confusing debate in society over medical issues ranging from physician-assisted suicide to rationed health care. Along with advocates on both sides of the issue, they are learning technical distinctions between words like nonvoluntary euthanasia and active euthanasia. Technological advances in how we can treat people and keep them alive have added to the confusion surrounding the debate.”
I consider myself to be a fairly conservative Christian. I take the Bible literally, and I strive to follow God’s commandments for His people. However, I still had a difficult time reading this book. I understand that the author herself is struggling with the diseases and issues that she eloquently writes about. But even so, I feel that she does not have the right to tell others how they shouldn’t “give up.” I don’t think people who take their own lives because they are in excruciating, debilitating pain have “given up.” And even if they have, who is she to judge? Because she has been paralyzed does not give her the right to criticize other’s decisions.
I truly do not believe that there is any debate. People can live and die the way they want, and should be able to die how they want. God gave us choices, including the choice to follow him, so we should be allowed this choice as well. However, the author makes an excellent and coherent argument as to why God would want us to live abundant, fruitful lives for Him.
As far as living a consistently Christian lifestyle, this book fit in very well. Its ideas and arguments coincide directly with the Christian lifestyle notions. I think it’s interesting that Tada writes on the issue of struggle-an issue that almost everyone can apply directly to their lives, even if they nor anyone else they know is suffering. We all struggle, and this book can help us to overcome and seek God in our daily struggles, no matter how large or how small they seem to be. I like how the author says, “To top everything off, right now the girls are in a rehabilitation facility for three months for intense feeding therapy.
They are miserable there, and I have had to put Amanda in day care so I can be there for Jen and Rachel. We have no family nearby to help with all this.” This is such an excellent example of how we get overwhelmed in our daily lives. When one extra stressor is added, we suddenly feel as if the world is crashing down upon us, and that nobody is there to help us lighten the load. Tada says that God is always willing, and wants to help us overcome these trials that he seems to always be throwing at us, regardless of whether or not we are ready for them.
Overall this book was excellent. It provided a solid basis for why it is alright to question God. It also effectively challenged the idea that humans have the right to decide when a patient is ready to go, what many call “compassionate killing.” Obviously an oxymoron, Tada makes an excellent case for why we should continue out fights for the Lord. I would recommend it to anyone, regardless of where they are at in their lives.
As stated above, I believe that this book can be applied to our lives at any point, because it teaches to trust God at all times. In addition, I believe the author makes an excellent point that is easily applicable to our everyday lives when she uses the Anton Chekhov quote which says that it is not the small trials, it is the large ones that make a huge difference in our lives. Tada reiterates the fact that even when it seems impossible to trust God, it allows us the opportunity to seek him with our troubles at any time.