Brittany Maynard, the beautiful 29 year-old who was diagnosed with a brain tumor and stage IV cancer, has taken her own life. According to the latest reports, she died at her home surrounded by her loved ones after taking a lethal dose of medications prescribed by her doctor. She viewed herself as a spokesperson for Death with Dignity laws, which are currently available in only a few states. In her mind, taking her own life was a way to maintain some control over her dying, and she wanted to end her life before the cancer drastically affected the quality of her living. Dying with dignity, she said, was a way to keep the cancer from “taking so much more” away from her than it already had.
She was determined. She was pretty. She was well-loved and looked after. But, one thing she was not, in the moment of her death, was dignified. Because dying is the ultimate source of indignity. Dying is the proof, in fact, that humanity is at odds with God, that we are rebellious and glory-seeking and ashamed. Death came upon us like a tidal wave on the day that human beings decided we know better than God. And, ever since then, the waves have washed over us, one by one by one.
Brittany believed a lie that somehow she could escape the indignity. But, as she swallowed those pills and drifted off to sleep for the last time, she was just setting in motion the indignity of coming face to face with the Creator of the universe. The God who caused great prophets and giants of the faith fall on their faces in shame, crying, Woe is me! There is no dignity in that moment. There is no gold star to pin to your vest, no proud hour as you suddenly gain the full knowledge of how far your existence is from the perfection of a holy God.
It is the ultimate indignity. The highest of all humiliations. It is awe-full. But, it doesn’t have to last forever.
I don’t know what Brittany’s or anyone else’s positions are before God. It is His job to see the heart and judge accordingly. But, I do know that for those who know Christ, after the indignity comes the moment of assurance. The moment when God speaks, when He says the word Mine. The moment when all indignities end forever. Because for His own children, there is only love. Acceptance. The lifting of a shamed head hung low, and open arms.
The concept of dying with dignity is a farce. We die humbly, as beggars before the King of Kings. But, when we know that King as a savior and friend, we can die with hope. We can die with peace. And, we can trust that God will wash away every indignity with the blood of His Son.