Just to be born is worth celebrating. You beat tremendous odds just to make it out of the womb, but God knew you would make it. All that you are which makes you unique is there from conception -”From the instant of fertilization, that first single cell contains the entire genetic blueprint in all its complexity. This accounts for every detail of human development, including the child’s sex, hair and eye colour, height, and skin tone.”Randy Alcorn, Why pro-life? Caring for the unborn and their mothers (Sandy, Oregon: Eternal Perspective Ministries , 2004),34
God declares in His Word that we are “fearfully and wonderfully made”; and so we should fear God who “knit us together in our mother’s womb” and live in awe and wonder at the miracle of ourselves as created beings. Spiritual life is also vital to appreciate and savour the joy of being alive, without which we are in danger of becoming the walking dead with all the medical vital signs of being alive such as breathing and heart pumping, but no real sense of purpose or why the need to go on living.
The sweetness is ironically in the struggle; a life without struggle is a shallow, hollow existence. We are privy to so many contrasting accounts of varying attitudes to life:
- Cancer-stricken, terminally ill youngsters such as Stephen Sutton who would have given anything to be able to live;
- Premature babies clinging on to life despite the odds
- People so keen to end their lives they fly out to clinics in far off lands where it is legal to pay for doctor-assisted suicide.
These are reminders that often death comes quite unexpectedly. The lesson is that life must never be treated with complacency, indifference or irreverence. It is a precious commodity which is terminal by nature, so why hasten its termination?
Suicide is now viewed by many as a legitimate means of escape from problems. Although life was not meant to be easy, we can rest assured that it was meant to be rewarding and fulfilling. So, it stands to reason that the degree to which we overcome its obstacles, is the degree to which we will experience fulfilment.
From an early age, we need to develop in ourselves and our children the backbone to cope with life’s vicissitudes, tragedies and heartaches. Each human being, provided he or she lives long enough, will eventually witness and experience these elements of being human – that life can be wearisome, lonesome and disappointing. We must teach them to accept these as ‘givens’, but also recognise that these make up some threads but not the whole garment. Without this acceptance, we fall prey to escapism, and end up retreating from reality instead of confronting it and dealing with it. People escape through all manner of pre-occupation such as entertainment, fiction novels, sports, relationships, legal and illegal drugs. Many of these things are not bad in of themselves, but if indulged in to excess, can mean you are essentially escaping from yourself – which means you are not really living. It is unrealistic to expect to be happy all the time. There are those who attempt to achieve this state artificially through light-hearted entertainment, drugs and alcohol or the endorphin rush of exercise addiction. If we hold these false expectations then we set ourselves up for constant disillusionment. The slightest failed expectation, for example, could tip us over the edge to a state of melancholy or a death wish.
When young people are told that the sky is the limit or they can be anything they want to be, this sets them up for unrealistic expectations of life. We may think we are doing them a favour by being positive or bolstering their confidence. What they need most to hear is that:
- “life won’t always be easy but each time you overcome something, you become a bit stronger and less fearful.”
- “that which doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger.”
- “people can do things to us on the outside, but we get to decide the person we will be on the inside.”