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Mar 06 2010

End Of Life

A time to live and a time to die

I read a blog post by a neurologist titled Checkout time.  The neurologist was sharing the story about a patient who was at the end of her life and was in fact in a coma.  Cancer has spread throughout her whole body and was in all of her organs including her brain, lungs, liver, bone, etc.  She had already undergone surgery, radiation and chemotherapy.  Her family had taken her to several major cancer institutions.  She had utilized and been given all available treatments.  She was dying and her body was shutting down.  She was now on a ventilator, tubes throughout her body, suffering from seizures including bleeding in her brain. In essence, she was dead except that medical technology was keeping her body alive. There was no medical hope left.  It had all been exhausted.  The neurologist was blogging from a medical point of view, the waste of resources for a hopeless situation and the sad situation in which this woman will die.

I thought about this situation from another point of view and that is the the world view from scripture (after all, this is a Christian blog).

From the moment sin entered into the world, we are all destined to die.  There is no way around it.  Our bodies will one day die.  The only hope for eternal life is through the salvation that Christ offers.  Medical science, for all its wonders, cannot prevent death.  At most, it can prolong the inevitable.  Diabetes was once a death sentence.  Modern medicine can now offer a diabetic a long life through life-saving insulin.  Modern medicine can now give a person a brand new organ whereas in the past, it was certain death.  Even with modern medicine, every single person will die.

  • a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted; Ecclesiastes 3:2 (ESV)

In the instance cited in the doctor’s blog, every available medical procedure had been offered this woman.  Despite that, she lay comatose, organs shutting down and her brain was bleeding.  Medicine failed her and her family was unwilling to accept that it was a lost cause.  It is her time and there is not a thing man can do to prevent or override God’s decision when a person’s time has come.

Her family is unwilling to accept that she is gone and continues to seek treatment, transferring her from facility to facility.  Except for the machines keeping her body alive, she is dead.  As the neurologist said in his post, “Elvis has left the building.”   Her family has placed their faith in modern medicine and modern medicine will always fail in the end.  At best, modern medicine may and does prolong our lives but it cannot stop the inevitable tide that is rushing toward each and every one of us to sweep us into eternity.

The woman’s family, unable to accept the inevitable and unavoidable end of their loved one’s life, has removed her from the hospital and transferred her to yet another hospital.  Thus far, each hospital has informed the family that nothing more can be done.  She has been transferred in search of someone that will tell them that there is hope.  Their search is futile.

  • But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul is required of you, and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’ Luke 12:20 (ESV)

As technology advances, mankind places much faith in what we are able to accomplish.  Despite how advanced our technology becomes, we cannot prevent nor add a day to our lifespan.

  • And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?
    Luke 12:25 (ESV)

The answer is it cannot be done.

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8 comments

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  1. Daredevil

    “As technology advances, mankind places much faith in what we are able to accomplish. Despite how advanced our technology becomes, we cannot prevent nor add a day to our lifespan.”

    Nor can fallen, sinful, depraved nature be changed by technology. Only God can change the heart.

    With technology, we get more technological ways to murder people, be it the Holocaust, abortion, terroristic acts, etc., etc., etc.

    1. Tishrei

      Hi Daredevil,

      There’s a lot of good that technology has brought us but at the same time, a lot of bad has come from it as well. Even the internet, there’s an awful lot of good that comes from the internet but by the same token, all that evil stuff is there for all to see.

      And you’re absolutely right, only God can change the heart. Modern technology may be able to save a life or prolong life but it cannot do anything about the nature of man’s heart.

  2. Eden

    This resonated with me as I just spent last night at the hospital watching my godmother die after being taken off her ventilator. She had very advanced muscular dystrophy and was not a believer in life. However, to the best of my knowledge she accepted Christ before her passing. Her death was completely unexpected- in two days she went from being fine to being gone. It all sounds very tragic, but I can’t help thinking that what happened was the most compassionate thing God could have done. She could barely move in life, now she can run. She didn’t know Jesus, now she is with Him. She spent the last moments of her life cradled in the arm of her best friend, surrounded by the people who loved her. Blessings,

    Eden

    Thorns and Myrtles
    edenellis.wordpress.com

    1. Tishrei

      Hi Eden,

      First, I want to say I’m sorry about your godmother. I know from personal experience how hard it is to lose someone we love. Even when we know that they placed their trust in Christ and know that they are in His presence, there is still that void that they leave in our hearts.

      And I couldn’t agree with you more, I too think it is the most compassionate thing God does when He calls us home instead of lingering in a long and drawn out painful existence. That’s how it used to be until our modern medical technology. Modern medicine can now prolong a painful existence.

      I’m glad your godmother was surrounded by those that she loved and loved her.

      God bless,

  3. pttyann

    Hello Tishrei
    Good post!!! And how true people spend big bucks trying to stay young and beautiful,but as hard as they try it’s all useless! Because as we live changes are being made in our bodies and nothing can stop that as you said “Nothing” can stop death. Truly the “Best” we can do is be ready! I hope you’re doing well we haven’t talked in a while.
    Love you Tishrei :D

    1. Tishrei

      Hi Pat,

      Yeah, it’s useless. Nothing can stop death — it will take all of us one day. But we don’t have to perish if we place our trust in Him. We can have eternal life.

      I too miss talking with you. It’s been a while. I’ve been on and off the internet — more off than on. I’m getting back into the swing of things so hopefully we can chat again soon.

  4. Margaret

    Tishrei,

    It is sad how many don’t want to deal with death and cause their loved ones to go through a lot of physical pain trying to stay alive.

    A few years ago, my elderly father-in-law was diagnosed with terminal cancer….. He chose hospice at home in place of being hospitalized….. I was the hospice care taker for the last four months of his life….. And, really, it was the best way to go….. The hospice nurse made sure his meds for pain control were always adjusted….. He had the comfort of loved ones and familiar settings day and night….. We were always near to visit and tend to his every need….. A hospice nurse came for the last few moments of his life and it was good that he was ready to meet our Lord….. He even helped plan his own funeral, making sure some of his favorite hymns would be sung.

    When we know where we’re headed, we don’t have to be afraid….. Jesus has assured us that our home is beautiful — a place prepared especially for us.

    Margaret

    1. Tishrei

      Hi Margaret,

      We can’t change the inevitable. And you’re right, it’s incredibly sad that folks cause their loved ones to go through a lot of pain because they can’t let go. Yet, they are absolutely powerless to stop what must happen to all of life.

      I really like how your father-in-law chose his end of life.

      And you’re right, we don’t have to be afraid when it’s our time because we know where we’re headed. I think the problem is those that are left — they don’t want to let go and therefore cause a lot of pain to the one dying because they do all that they can to try and stop what cannot be stopped.

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