• Making Sense of the Least

    6 October, 2010

    Making Sense of the Least

    A frail emaciated frame reclining—in fact ensconced almost permanently in a bean-bag chair is a living witness to the utter helplessness which can impact the human condition.

    I can recall children (having worked with them) whose loudest tangible brightness to life was their orange bean-bag. I have wept inside and cried outside to the Lord for His elusive understanding of why?

    Reclining all day amidst this commanding orange is their lot in life. Regularly, they are  moved on the bean-bag by caring nurses to prevent sores on their bodies from their immobile state.

    The healthy heart of the severely handicapped keeps ticking in the wizened body and maintains the vital functions of the mind. Such is the tragedy that comes across many lives. They endure an existence without energy or relationships, without the ability to respond.

    It is now decades since I taught these children, but their memory to me is still as vivid as their bean-bag was bright. The sadness of these lives still assails my spirit from time to time.

    In this pragmatic world of productivity, the infirm, the disabled, and the elderly are summed up in the question, “But what quality of life is theirs?” This cry becomes the bastion for euthanasia.

    But I want to bellow that life is defined in more than just quality; it transcends productivity, and usefulness is not a helpful measure of a human being. After all, “We are human beings before we are human doings” (Warren, Rick, The Purpose Drive Life, Zondervan, 2002).

    While lives that have lost abundance are crystal clear evidence of satan's handiwork (Jn 10:10a), the sum of life is neither found in abundance nor activity, nor is it found in prosperity or performance.

    The severely handicapped, the victim of trauma or Alzheimer's disease, or the perpetually bedridden are still of equal value to the captain of industry, the university scholar or the Olympic athlete. Life can never be summed up in the quality to be enjoyed or the productivity to be achieved.

    Brennan Manning once said, "God's love is based on nothing and the fact that it is based on nothing is secure." What an enlivening freedom he brings to both mankind and to God. He liberates God from being a disinterested, judgemental sour-puss and liberates His creation from the prevalent fear of losing God's love by falling from His favor.

    Life's value is found in the unconditional, indeed unadulterated charis of the exemplary Father who looks for nothing in a child to cause Him to love - yet He does. To be the object of divine love is not at all dependent on the recipient.

    The basis of His love for His children is not found in their quality of life, their productivity quotient, or even their responsiveness -- their value is found in simply being the object of God's love. He commands this cosmos in all its unknowability, and still He knowingly gazes upon and caresses His child.

    Man can never assess life's value correctly without seeing through God's eyes. To a man's eyes, someone maybe nothing, but it is in God alone that value comes from “nothing.”

    The sadness for the utterly helpless I still feel, but those who have nothing this world honors are those that God sees first. As with all of us, their real value was, is, and will always be found in the fact they are the objects of unadulterated, indeed undiluted, Divine love.

    Blessed are the poor in spirit,
          for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. (Matt 5:3)