One of the privileges our modern age demands is the right to declare that certain lives are not worth living. In utero testing sometimes reveals the possibility or even the certainty of birth defects. Abortion is often recommended to mothers who carry “defective” children and sometimes that recommendation becomes pressure.
And yet there are so many stories of people who have overcome enormous obstacles and who live full and rich lives. Some are missing limbs, others are blind, still others struggle with disease. Some have overcome poverty and injustice, others paralyzing accidents or great tragedies. And they are living witnesses to us that we ought never be the judge of what lives are worthwhile and what lives are not worth living. It is true that none of us would wish to be born missing limbs, or blind or in poverty, or with chronic conditions. But we must reverence those who are, learn to appreciate their gifts, and summon them to courage and greatness.
We must declare with great certitude that there is no such thing as a life not worth living. We say this not as some politically correct slogan but rather with firm conviction that every human life is willed by God. We were willed before we were made for the Scriptures say, “Before I ever formed you in the womb I knew and I appointed you…” (Jer 1:4). None of us is an accident nor are our gifts and apparent deficits mistakes. We exist as we are, the way we are for a purpose, a purpose for us and for others. We all have an irreplaceable role in God’s kingdom and show forth aspect of His glory uniquely. Every human life is intended and is worth living because God says so by the very fact that we exist.
The following videos show forth the resilience of the human person and give powerful witness to the fact that life is worth living. You may not have time to view them all now but I hope you’ll come back and see them all. That is why I post this over a weekend. Despite trials and setbacks all these individuals show forth the power and glory of God working though our human struggles. We might not choose the struggles they have for ourselves but we need to see that their lives are full and proclaim the dignity and resilience of the human person.
Here is the story of John Bramblitt who, though blind is a fine painter indeed.
Here is the story of Abby & Brittany, Conjoined twins born in 1990. The title of the video is “Joined for Life.” Abby says at the end of the video, “The best thing in the world about being conjoined twins is that there’s always someone to talk to and you’re never alone.”
Here’s the story of Nick Vujicic a man with no arms or legs who is a motivational speaker. He likes to say that he went from having a life without limbs to a life without limits.
I have posted this video of Patrick Henry Hughes before. Blind and crippled from birth he manifestes a profound musical ability.
3 Replies to “Life is Worth Living: The Resilience of the Human Person”
I LOVE these! Thank you for putting them together here. Another amazing story is of the severely autistic and VERY artistic young man with the photographic memory, who draws murals of enormous cities like London, Rome, and other places, after seeing them ONE time from a helicopter ride. I have never seen anything like what he can do…totally unique in all the world!
One quote I heard is “Everyone is fighting a great battle in life.” That quote helps me when someone is being particularly nasty, or to understand where they might be coming from in their point of view. The quote came from my former high school English teacher, who said it’s from a Jewish scholar in the 1200’s.
We all have a story, and we all have had stuff that’s been a great battle to deal with – whether it’s disease, personal loss, paralysis or loss of limb….it’s how we come out of it that matters. It’s how we deal with it. Even in how we deal with it (especially if it’s not constructive), as long as we learn from it and can use it to grow closer to God, and perhaps even teach others what we learned, that’s all that matters.
We’re often exhorted to place ourselves wholly in God’s hands, to trust Him completely.
However, we place a high value on self-reliance. Even the smallest child takes great pride in each step toward independence. We fear old age – not so much because that our days on earth may rapidly be approaching an end, but because we may lose our independence as our faculties fail us.
That fear of dependence, I think, often manifests itself as scorn. We’d rather turn away from those with disabilities and the elderly rather than acknowledge that we’re not as self-reliant as we’d like to think, or that our self-reliance may only be temporary. [Those with disabilities sometimes refer to “normal” people as “temporarily abled.” Katherine G, who works in an emergency room, surely has seen many lives transformed from “normal” to otherwise.]
The individuals featured on this blog entry have accepted that they cannot be wholly self-reliant. The blind gentleman must occasionally rely on strangers to guide him; the twins are dependent on each other for life itself; the limbless man must have someone feed him and dress him. If they can accept their dependence, and consider their lives to be fulfilling, how can we not trust in God?
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