Saturday, April 20, 2019

No Resurrection, No Hope

Image from Jesus Film Project

A few days ago, while thinking about the last week of Christ’s earthly ministry, my thoughts strayed across the memory of a Holy Week many years ago, as if I had brushed up against an evil spider lurking in a cobweb within the darkest recesses of my mind.

Easter came early that year: March 27, 2005. I had been born again nearly 5 years previously, on April 17, 2000, by trusting in the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 15:1-4) as the only Way to Heaven (John 14:6). On the Thursday of Holy Week in 2005, my husband and I were in New Orleans to compete in a ballroom dance competition.

The city, festive as always, was blooming with spring flowers and enticing with sounds of jazz and brass bands wafting through the breeze. The weather was balmy, perfect for strolling through the French Quarter and admiring the intricate iron work of the historic buildings and the precious art objects in the windows of antique shops.

We were staying at the Ritz Carlton where the competition was taking place, the elegant ballgowns and sparkling Latin dresses adorning the already beautiful interior, replete with tasteful, fragrant floral displays and Easter décor. In the city, hotel and ballroom, the people were friendly, the food was delicious, and the mood was jovial.

But my heart was heavy, sinking like a stone to the pit of my stomach.  My thoughts could not escape the darkness of the events surrounding Terri Schiavo, a young woman with severe brain damage and a family embroiled in a bitter struggle over her right to live or to die. Her husband had moved on with his life and had children with another woman. Yet he refused to relinquish legal guardianship of Terri to her parents, even though they offered to pay all her expenses.

I was one of the very few neurologists who, after thoroughly reviewing her complex medical records and videotapes, believed that she showed signs of meaningful interaction with her environment and especially with her parents. I had signed an affidavit to that effect in support of her parents, who had appealed to the courts to have her feeding tube reinserted after Terri’s husband won the legal battle to have it removed.

But after the “Palm Sunday Compromise” on March 20, which was emergency legislation to get the case moved to federal court, on March 25 the courts refused to reinsert the feeding tube. It had been withheld since March 18, meaning that Terri would be deprived of food and water and allowed to die from starvation and dehydration.

My heart went out to her parents, for I could not imagine the agony of knowing your child was deliberately being starved to death, and watching as her body shriveled away and her eyes sank deep into their sockets. Even worse would be the feeling of helplessness to intervene and knowing that your child’s pain was senseless and through no fault of her own.

Even for me, that Holy Week was perhaps the most poignant of my life, as it so vividly brought to mind the suffering of Jesus, the innocent Lamb of God led to the slaughter and betrayed by those He loved and trusted. And the pain that Mary must have endured at the cross, not only watching Jesus’ life ebb away, but knowing that her perfect, sinless Son, the Messiah, God Himself, was unjustly condemned to a horrific death and brutally tortured by those He came to save.

Meanwhile, protesters and prayer warriors gathered around the hospice facility where Terri was dying; the media were ablaze with arguments from both sides; and the courts and legislature continued to suppress any last hope of Terri’s parents that she would be allowed to live. President Bush spoke out for legal protection of those who had no voice of their own, and the Pope criticized US law for allowing such inhumane treatment and for not upholding the sanctity of human life.

On March 27, Easter Sunday, while Christians everywhere celebrated the resurrection of their Lord and Savior Jesus Christ (Mark 16:6, Luke 24:6, John 21:14, Romans 8:34), Terri received the Last Rites, in keeping with her Catholic background. She passed into eternity a few days later, on March 31.

Despite the burden of these events, my heart found hope anew in singing God’s praises on Resurrection Sunday, for the risen Christ is victorious over death and brings hope to the suffering and once hopeless who have trusted Him.

I don’t know whether or not Terri Schiavo was saved, for only the Lord knows the hearts (1 Samuel 16:7). I do know that had Jesus Christ, God the Son, not taken on human flesh (John 1:14) to pay the ransom price for our sins (Hosea 13:14, Mark 10:45, 1 Timothy 2:6), and had He not conquered sin, death and the grave by rising from the dead, that there would be no hope for any of us (1 Corinthians 15:13-58).

Praise the Lord, Christ arose! Now we who trust Him have a living hope (1 Peter 1:3), a blessed hope in His glorious appearing (Titus 2:13), and the assurance that when we are absent from the body, we are present with the Lord! (2 Corinthians 5:8). If He calls us home before the Rapture, We will pass through the valley of the shadow of death (Psalm 23:4) directly to our home in Heaven (John 14:1-4), where He awaits with outstretched arms!

And if we are blessed to still be living when He returns, we will not even taste death (Luke 9:27), for we shall be instantly transformed into glorious bodies like His (1 Corinthians 15:35-50), to meet with Him in the clouds and forever be with Him (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18) and our loved ones in Him!

Because of His resurrection, there is hope! He is risen! He is risen indeed! Alleluia, Amen! 

© 2019 Laurie Collett



Keith said...

Is This Truly A Great Day?

Truly, this day marks a Great Day in the History Of Humanity. This is the day when the Salvation of Humanity became a reality for all who will trust in God, that he provided the true Passover Lamb, thereby causing the Angel of Death to pass over us, giving us Life Everlasting with God.

This Passover Lamb committed himself to us and freely and obediently went to the alter of God and gave his life, as a ransom for all.

Then, three days later, on the Feast Of First Fruits, he raised our Messiah from the Grave validating the Word of God and Y’shua/Jesus as the Promised Salvational Lamb Of God and setting us up as Joint Heirs in the Kingdom of God. Truly, a great day!

However, let us commit ourselves to celebrate everyday, as this day, for our Messiah is the Passover Lamb and God is our Savior everyday. Amen!

Brenda said...

Hi Laurie,
I found your story very, very sad. I can not understand how anyone could stop feeding a person. What comes to mind is 'Do unto others what you would have them do unto to you'. What I do think though is that the lady's suffering could be lessened by God's abilities. As God want's all to be saved I believe that as Jesus went to speak to the spirits of the dead He could well be doing the same thing with those who do not know the Lord when they die in the flesh, even though myself, I was sent back. I don't know, but I believe that there are many things we do not know even now.
God bless you Laurie.

Frank E. Blasi said...

Dear Laurie,
I hope this comment finds you enjoying your Easter as we celebrate the joyous news that Jesus of Nazareth crucified has risen physically from the dead!
I have walked the streets of New Orleans myself in 1978, especially in the Old French Quarter. Although I agree with you that the ironwork of balconies adds character to the city, yet with its bars, nudist shows and gambling houses, it was also difficult to imagine a thriving evangelical church there, although I get the impression that the city is in desperate need for one.
Which brings to mind your story of Terri Schiavo. Personally, I find it difficult to believe that such a person would end up in Hell due to her disabilities, while fit, young graduates who are successful in their careers have, by faith, secured a place in Heaven.
That's why I believe that the Lord is more merciful than we might believe him to be, and his mercy through grace can include such individuals. As Martin Luther once said, there will be more people in Heaven than he could ever imagine, including those he thought would never arrive there.
Happy holidays. God bless.

Laurie Collett said...

May we give thanks and praise to Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior, daily, for He was the perfect atoning sacrifice, and no one comes to the Father but by Him.
God bless,

Laurie Collett said...

Hi Brenda,
I agree with you that God in His mercy may well have lessened this woman's suffering, and also brought comfort to her parents, perhaps in the process bring them closer to Himself.

Romans 10 explains the chain of faith, which comes from hearing the Word of God, from a preacher or from others who are sent, encouraging us in evangelism so that all may hear the Gospel and be saved during their earthly life by trusting in Jesus Christ.

Thanks as always for your comment and God bless you too!


Laurie Collett said...

Dear Frank,
We are having a blessed Easter -- a lovely and meaningful church service and communion this morning; the blessing of singing two solos in church; a full Sunday school class and service; and a wonderful dinner and city stroll in beautiful weather and surroundings with our son and daughter-in-law.

I did not mean to imply that Terri or anyone would be in hell because of their disabilities, but rather that I have no knowledge of whether or not she ever trusted Christ before she suffered brain injury. Praise the Lord for His mercy in allowing anyone into Heaven, for we are all sinners, redeemed only by the precious blood of His Son and not by any works we could do.

Thanks as always for your comment, and Happy Resurrection Day to you and Alex. God bless,

Donald Fishgrab said...

One negative aspect of technology is that it so often enables us to try to play God, as in the case you described. Lacking God's wisdom and knowledge, it is impossible for us to accurately judge such situations, but God is able to make it all right, even when mankind has messed it all up. The ressurection is just another proof of his power.

Susan said...

How coincidental that I’ve been thinking about Terry Schiavo the past few days, although I didn’t have such a close connection to her situation, and I did not recall that her passing was so close to Easter sentiments are similar to Donald’s in that I myself have no desire to be kept barely alive with feeding tubes, breathing apparatus, etc, and definitely no organs “harvested” from other people, but do not deny others the right to such things if that is their desire. That was the reason she came up in my thinking because I was pondering the fact that today we can intervene with these modern interventions that were not possible for previous generations and although I judged Terry’s husband harshly at the time, I also must confess that such decisions would not have had to be made in the time of the apostles, although Jesus would have restored Terry to complete wholeness without the necessity for any modern technological devices, if He desired to do so. Even so, it does seem heartless to go against her parents wishes. I’m looking forward to the next world in glory where those kinds of decisions will never have to be made.

Laurie Collett said...

So true, Donald -- technology advances, but man's moral code does not, and often actually seems to regress. Praise God that He is in control of all things, and that He raised up Jesus Christ to save those who trust Him.
Thanks as always for your comment, and God bless,

Laurie Collett said...

Hi Susan,
One of the things that troubled me the most about Terri's situation was that really it was not a question of heroic measures using advanced technology; just a matter of feeding and hydration. She breathed independently and had a strong heart and body, but her swallowing reflex was impaired, which was why she needed a feeding tube -- basically just a conduit from nose to stomach with a pump for periodic feeding. She didn't even need an intravenous line. Most living wills in which people state that they don't want heroic measures make an exception for interventions like feeding and hydration, for no one would willingly choose to be starved or dehydrated to death.

Praise the Lord that in our glorified bodies there will be no sickness, pain, death, sorrow, aging or sin!

Thanks as always for your thoughtful comment, and God bless,

Susan said...

I understand. My husband said that Terri’s husband gave up his husband rights when he left her for another woman so the decision should have been given to the parents. Sadly people today have little to no discernment for good decision making. 😔

Laurie Collett said...

I agree -- Terri's care should have been entrusted to those who remained faithful to her. Not following God's Word always leads to poor decisions, often with disastrous consequences.