Monday, March 4, 2013

The Importance of Dignity

By Bob Spurlin

    We all envision living a life with dignity and decorum as our daily existence on earth continues. Some are not so blessed as this fundamental gift is often caused by physical, mental, and emotional problems. Webster defines dignity: “The quality of being worthy of esteem or respect; a formality in bearing and appearance.” Dignity is a worthwhile quality and one that we often take for granted in our daily experience. We should remember in our daily prayers to petition the heavenly Father for a life of dignity for our loved ones and ourselves.
     Oh, how often we forget the everyday blessings of waking-up, showering, getting dressed, going to work, and providing for our family a normal life style. Exchanging love for our families while using every opportunity to serve our fellowman in service to God is the purpose of our existence (Ecc. 12:13; Eph. 5:22-29). Then suddenly to be told that you are ill with an unbearable illness like cancer or heart disease can be devastating. The prognosis of such a disease often produces a debilitating existence defying explanation. As the disease begins to work its destructive path inflicting weakness throughout the body it becomes disturbing both physically and mentally. The most difficult challenge to face is the dependence on one’s spouse and other family members for the essential care. May I hasten to say there has never been a particle of indifference from my family to offer the care needed. The responsibility of the family unit is to provide basic care for their loved one, and create a loving atmosphere making our family member as comfortable as possible. Some of the most cherished moments experienced for our family occurred at mealtime. Coming together and eating our meals combined with the stories that were experienced during the day brought great joy. Now, the simplest of tasks are provided including reliance for meals, being dressed, a simple glass of water, and dependence upon others for bathing. From the start having these simple tasks done was humiliating and embarrassing while feeling helpless as an adult.
     Although self-restraint prevented me from saying what truly was on my heart, nonetheless words would come occasionally: “This is not supposed to happen to me, it happens to others and they must bear that burden, not me.” One becomes selfish with the day-by-day confinement to a hospital bed, yet after realization sets in serious consideration was given to manage a bedridden existence.
     May I say to those suffering, or others whom you may know dealing with adverse circumstances, this is a test of our faith. We often call Hebrews Chapter 11 the faith hall of fame. We see repeated illustrations of men and women facing great trials of faith. It is only when we endure such trials that victory will come through humble obedience (Hebrews 5:8-9). In 1995, the doctors diagnosed my condition as MS and the challenge we face is daily and constant. However, faith in God is anchored to the rock of ages, which has provided the drive necessary to cope with this trial. King David often felt despair as he said, “From the end of the earth will I cry to thee, when my heart is overwhelmed: lead me to the rock that is higher than I” (Psalms 61:2). David with all his flaws recognized the heavenly Father was his rock in times of stress and anxiety. We must feel the same way as we place all our faith in our God that reign’s supreme (Col. 1:15-17).
     The loss of dignity often produces frustration and confusion. Many burdened with human suffering feel they are being punished for some unexplained reason. We must look at the overall picture in coming to grip with such trials.
     The doctor informs patients daily of terminal, and incurable diseases bringing one to realize how delicate life can be. This stunning announcement gives one the opportunity of sober reflection about the life he has led. Those facing such troubles without God’s presence, and our loved ones at our side will travel a lonely road. Denial and the blame game will sink us in depression if we fail to reach for the spiritual lifeline bringing us to a place of contentment and comfort (Col. 3:2). We will always see many slips and detours along the way as we travel this difficult road. Blaming God or placing the blame on someone else is a futile exercise.  However, placing culpability on God is not only inappropriate but an act of foolishness.
     Paul, in I Corinthians 14:33, stated: “God is not the author of confusion, but of peace.” God does not arbitrarily set up a straw man only to knock him down. Our daily existence comes with trials and disappointments of many descriptions. How we manage these difficulties is a challenge to the human spirit requiring resiliency and a deep faith in God. It is only through human suffering that we will learn patience and build a greater faith. James writes “Count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations (trials), knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience” (James 1:2-3). Let us all strive for human dignity while offering support for those suffering with the hurt of life’s woes.

- Bob Spurlin, the "horizontal" preacher, has been bedridden with Multiple Sclerosis for a number of years, yet continues to faithfully serve his Lord through a number of avenues, most notably his writing.  Bob can be contacted through his website,  (©2000-2006 BOB SPURLIN).

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