The Forest

July 20, 2020

A very good read here. It requires that we lift our heads up above the headlines being screamed at us moment by moment to recognize the larger damage that has, is, and apparently will continue to be done.

Conclusions to be drawn, since the author does much in terms of description but very little in terms of prescription?

For starters, this should be a stark wake-up call to the inherent dangers of a professional political caste made possible by unlimited terms. It’s tragic that more publicity has been given in recent years – by both red and blue pundits – to eliminating term restrictions on the Presidency than on calls for term limitations on all elected offices and officials. Often such calls are aimed only at the legislative branch of government, but real thought should be given to considering term limitations for the judicial branch as well. I have long maintained that people with a vested stake in the real world tend to be more responsive to the needs of people they are not so different from than people who are virtually guaranteed employment for life at tax-payer expense without really needing to consider the needs of the taxpayers.

Criticism of the media for not fully reporting more nuances of the Coronavirus pandemic is necessary and warranted combined with some hard examination of why such willful exclusion of contextualized data and information continues. Much self-righteous indignation has been expressed in defense of our free press, but when the press is nearly uniform in what it says and how it says it, I suspect strongly it isn’t nearly as free as it likes to think itself, or as we need it to be.

Other conclusions?

Reading Ramblings – July 26, 2020

July 19, 2020

Date: Eighth Sunday after Pentecost, July 26, 2020

Texts: Deuteronomy 7:6-9; Psalm 125; Romans 8:28-39; Matthew 13:44-52

Context: See what kind of love the Father has given unto us, that we should be called children of God, and so we are. (1 John 3:1) John’s words capture so beautifully the immense love of God for his creation, and his steadfast faithfulness to bring us back to him! The readings for this week all emphasize this theme. What we need to do is be cautious, particularly as we read Romans 8, to not insert what Paul does not. Paul emphasizes those God has called, foreknew, predestined. What Paul does not say – but which many insert – is that there must therefore be those God did not foreknow, did not call, did not predestine. The existence of the former does not necessitate the existence of the latter, and a broader reading of Scripture makes this clear.

Deuteronomy 7:6-9 – Deuteronomy is Moses’ farewell address to the people of Israel, the group he has shepherded for over 40 years since leading them out of Egypt by the power of God the Father. It has been a tumultuous relationship, to say the least. Yet the fact remains in spite of their grumblings and grousings and disobedience, God has chosen them to be his people. He is faithful to them in spite of their faithlessness, as He is working on a much grander scale, fulfilling promises that go back to their ancestors. The scandal of particularity is that God works through specific peoples and individuals. He is not democratic in how He works his plan of salvation, but the effects of that plan are extended to all people in ways we have no idea how to even begin imagining. To any who worry or are brought to knowledge of their sin, God’s work for us through the specifics of human history – culminating in the incarnation of the Son of God, Jesus of Nazareth – is extended to all who will receive it in faith and trust and repentance. God’s goodness to us is incredible in its tenacity – a sure and certain rock to cling to in the midst of our shifting and uncertain world!

Psalm 125 – How should we respond to God’s promises and steadfast faithfulness? In faith and trust as expressed in this psalm. Anchoring our trust and hope in him gives us a confidence we can’t find anywhere else in this world, or in any other person. We can trust that even when things are hard and difficult for a time, that time will pass. God acts constantly on behalf of his faithful who have only to wait and see what their Lord will do, trusting ultimately that even should they not be delivered from the present predicament at hand, they are assured God the Father’s eternal peace and joy. It is not always within our power to ensure that righteousness prevails, or to bring evil to account. But God is not so limited, and all things will be restored and set right in his perfect timing.

Romans 8:28-39 – Do we suffer now? We certainly do – and we are keenly aware of this during another round of strict restrictions associated with COVID-19. Faith in Christ is not an immunity to the struggles and difficulties of this world. But faith in Christ allows us to see these struggles and difficulties from another perspective. As part of the greater struggle of evil against the righteous rule of God, it should not be surprising that we suffer here and now. But that suffering is only for a time. Evil has been defeated in the resurrection of Jesus the Christ. So now we can be certain that whatever Satan works for our evil, God is capable of working into good on our behalf. Who has God called? Everyone (John 3:16). Who did God foreknow? Everyone (Genesis 1-2; John 1:1-5). Who has God predestined according to his good will for eternal life? Everyone (Ezekiel 33:10-11). There is nobody God has predetermined to eternal separation from him. So the call of God the Holy Spirit goes out to everyone that they might receive justification through God the Son for the eternal glory of God the Father first and foremost, but themselves as well in a lesser, fitting degree. So we are confident of God’s goodness to us – that it is both more than adequate and eternally faithful. We cling in hope to the promises of God eternally and look for his salvation as well here and now in the short term. We know that whatever we suffer now cannot cause God to lose his grip on our lives!

Matthew 13:44-52 – Often these verses are interpreted as though we are the man or the merchant, but really the verses make more sense if we see Jesus as the man and the merchant. We are the treasure buried in sin that Jesus uncovers and offers himself in exchange for. We are the pearl sought by the merchant who willingly lays down his life that he might possess this pearl of greatest price eternally. Certainly these verses speak far better to the faithfulness of God than to our own shallow, self-centered faith! Who among us can claim to have sacrificed everything for Christ? The claim seems ridiculous, though perhaps those who suffer and are martyred for the faith might come closest to deserving this interpretation.

That God should pursue us so zealously makes rejection of his grace all the more terrible. While all things are possible with God and we should always hope and pray for the salvation of all those who here and now deny his love and goodness and insist they have no need for it, we must take seriously the eternal ramifications of such rebellion.

Movie Review: The Old Guard

July 16, 2020

I enjoy Netflix for making a broad variety of movies accessible for a reasonable price. I lament the variety doesn’t seem as broad or deep as it did years ago, but the streaming industry is certainly subject to the same shifting landscape of technology and ownership as everything else.

I’ve watched a few of Netflix’s movies, but not many. Perhaps like others my age and older it seems like these would pale in comparison to real movies produced by real studios that have been doing this for close to a century. The reality is that this isn’t necessarily true, and Netflix is capable of putting together a movie with big name stars that is pretty much indistinguishable from a movie released by a big name studio.

I just need to get with the times.

The Old Guard piqued my interest for blending action and supernatural elements. A small coterie of immortal warriors fights for survival against a very predictable big-pharma mad scientist while trying to integrate a fledgling member. Charlize Theron headlines a group of earnest actors with characters no less memorable than her own.

It’s a story full of cliches. Some are traditional, like the mysterious, battle-harded leader Andy who is a swirl of unknowns despite knowing her troops for centuries. Some are less traditional, like the forced highlighting of homosexual relationships and the insistence on women as the movers and shakers of the future (and in this case, the past). All of the characters are two-dimensional. The plot is predictable to a fault. There are no surprises.

All of which are faults most big movie productions suffer from. I think they’re accentuated here by the uncertainty of whether this is a stand-alone movie, a setup for a franchise, or the pilot of a Netflix series. Frankly, it would function best as the latter, which could have removed some of the awkward stabs (ha!) at character development. The actors and actresses are all fine, but severely limited by the script.

However the action sequences are pretty well-executed. None of the cheesy special effects and cheap CGI of, say, a Sci-Fi Channel production. A good (if somewhat strange) combination of modern combat technique as well as less ballistic fighting skills. It makes sense for the characters but it seems a bit unrealistic.

But far the more unrealistic major flaw is the combination of both pervasive technology and a complete disregard for it. A world in which tech is everywhere but professional warriors don’t know enough not to bring along a commercial cell phone that would easily allow people to track their whereabouts. Or the idea of pulling up to the curb in a busy downtown London highrise area with no other traffic or pedestrians around, to conduct a daring and explosive (literally) raid before disappearing again seconds before authorities and civilians arrive to gawk. It would have been far more believable if they had kept the action to more exotic (and less tech-infested) locales as it’s really distracting how ludicrous this setting and execution is.

The ending definitely sets up a sequel or a series, though frankly either one is really superfluous. There doesn’t seem to be many places for a sequel or series to go, beyond resolving a subplot reintroduced rather miraculously at the (literal) last second. Frankly most of the ending seemed rushed and superfluous. Not like there was much doubt how it was going to end.

Good Reminders

July 15, 2020

Nice to hear a political leader speaking about democracy and the principle of innocent until proven guilty as something that should remain well-above the roaring bloodlust of mobs and denouncers. It’s just a shame it’s not one of our own leaders.

Which Numbers?

July 14, 2020

Numbers are interesting things. Or more accurately, what numbers are cited and how they’re cited are interesting things.

Here in the US we’ve been dealing on a large scale with the Coronavirus since early March. Early on as lockdowns were put in place around the country the reports I remember were of massive death rates in Italy as well as sporadic reports of huge fatality levels in New York City. Articles with pictures of bodies stacked on the sidewalk because hospitals and mortuaries were unable to deal with the rapid spike in deaths related to COVID-19. Most everyone was pretty willing at that point to go along with demands to shelter-in-place and shut down non-essential businesses. The goal was not to eliminate infections necessarily, but to bend the curve, reduce the steep rate of new infections so hospitals would not be overwhelmed with dealing with incoming patients.

Here we are four months later and lockdowns are being reissued after a month and a half of eased restrictions. There is fearful talk about rising infection rates (as opposed to fatalities). But the talk now is not about fatalities any longer but infection rates. We’re told about how many new cases of COVID-19 are being discovered. Presumably with wider testing. This is of course concerning. Or is it?

Assuming the Coronavirus is as contagious as we’re told it shouldn’t surprise us that as testing rates go up so will the number of cases reported. Especially if, as sporadic articles maintain, the virus is airborne and can remain in the air for longer periods of time as opposed to mainly being spread from speaking, coughing, etc. in close proximity to one another. In which case, infection rates have likely been much higher than reported all along (something I’ve maintained since March), when testing was non-existent and then at lower rates than it presumably is now.

This is of course bad news. Anything that makes people sick is cause for some level of concern. Every year we know the flu is going make the rounds and a lot of people will get sick (far more than are reported to be infected with the Coronavirus, so far) and many will even die from it. But because we’re used to it, we don’t really take many precautions other than the flu shots that are now aggressively pushed each year despite offering questionable protection.

The Coronavirus is new and therefore we’re much more nervous about it as information is difficult to sift through to determine the real risk it poses. So far what we’re told is that it’s the greatest risk to the elderly and those with underlying health conditions that weaken their ability to fight infections in general. I don’t doubt this is true – my question is how serious the risk is.

Consider this collection of data from the CDC.

The first chart is a week-by-week breakdown of fatalities associated with the Coronavirus either alone or in combination with other illnesses. The first column is just deaths attributed in some way to COVID-19. Note how the numbers increase rapidly from the first reported cases in February. They peak the week of April 18, 2020 when there were nearly 17,000 deaths associated with COVID-19 in the United States. Then look how those numbers decline just as precipitously to under 200 as of the week of July 11, 2020. There are some disclaimers to note, such as the data (particularly the most recent data I would presume) is not necessarily fully accurate due to discrepancies in timing as to when data is received by the CDC. But in any case, it’s clear that COVID-19 related fatalities are nowhere near where they were in April at the height of our fear and worry. The disease is killing fewer people than it used to, despite shocking rises in reported numbers of infections in recent weeks.

Two columns over the Percent of Expected Deaths is also fascinating. This column compares the weekly data to historical data from 2017-2019 and shows how the 2020 fatality data compared to those previous years. In other words, did more people die in these weeks in 2020 than died in previous years in the same weeks when Coronavirus wasn’t in the picture? These figures peak in the same week – the week of April 18 – with a 40% increase in fatalities compared to previous, non-COVID-19 years. And then the percentage begins dropping so that by mid-June overall numbers of deaths are roughly equivalent to previous years. Although data is likely incomplete after mid-June as per the disclaimer notes, again the trend is clear that the virus is not as fatal as it was initially. I’m curious as to why that would be.

In the second table, I find it interesting that while California gets a lot of news play, our infection levels are rather low compared with other places and our fatality levels are essentially identical to previous, non-COVID-19 years. Unlike, say, Massachusetts, which I never hear about in the news! They have roughly 2000 more cases of COVID-19 than California despite a population 1/6th the size of ours. Fascinating.

It’s good to be cautious here. We have an odd habit in our country of emphasizing death counts that is misleading in terms of the real damage done. This is true in terms of our reporting of wars and other international engagements. You hear how many of our soldiers are killed, but never additional information on how many are severely wounded, as in limbs blown off or life-long paralysis or blindness or other severe, life-altering injuries. Likewise, with COVID-19 there are people who do get seriously ill but don’t die from the disease. So just looking at death statistics certainly doesn’t convey the full impact of the virus.

But it does make me wary about the heavy push for a vaccine as an answer to this situation. I’ve never thought it reasonable to assume we could produce a vaccine for this on demand. Vaccines aren’t that simple – otherwise we’d have a vaccine for the common cold! I worry more that if and when a vaccine is developed, there will be a push to make it mandatory – a push based on maintaining fear levels of Coronavirus into next year.

At least as I interpret the data, it seems more reasonable to say (as I did months ago) that likely infection rates are far higher than reported because of inadequate testing capabilities, so the apparent increase in infection levels now that testing is more pervasive is not really an increase in the percentage of people getting the virus, just a rise in the number of them detected. All of which means the virus is far less lethal than widely reported, even if it does still pose a risk to certain at-risk populations who would also be equally at risk from the flu and other more common and known viral strains.

Instead of emphasizing vaccines as the hope for moving past this, it seems far more reasonable to rely on herd-immunity since the vast majority of people who get the virus are only mildly affected and make full recovery. Assuming this process of infection and recovery leaves people with life-long antigens that make repeat infection impossible, within a few years the Coronavirus will no longer be much of a threat, and will be a decreasing threat to people as they age and develop other complicating health issues since they likely will have already had COVID-19 and won’t get it again when they’re weaker and less able to fight it off.

I’m happy for someone to explain how or why my analysis and conclusions are wrong. Data is time-consuming to sift through and there are a lot of anecdotal articles (or more accurately editorials) out there to complicate things further.

A Bit of Joy

July 13, 2020

In the midst of a constant barrage of bad news, if you’re looking for an online escape, you might want to check out https://window-swap.com/

You can get a glimpse of what people in other parts of the world see out their window at the moment. Sometimes it’s a pretty urban landscape, and sometimes it’s a stunning landscape. Not a bad way to while away a few of those lockdown moments!

Reading Ramblings – July 19, 2020

July 12, 2020

Date: Seventh Sunday after Pentecost, July 19, 2020 – COVID-19

Texts: Isaiah 44:6-8; Psalm 119:57-64; Romans 8:18-27; Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43

Context: As our culture becomes more pluralistic and multi-cultural, it might seem that competing claims to divine truth are all equal. Isn’t it unloving to insist on only Jesus Christ as the way to eternal life? Wouldn’t a loving God permit people to be reached through a variety of truths? Would it be more loving to tell children that 2+2= whatever they please, rather than insisting that 4 is the proper answer? Most people would understand quickly that promoting falsehoods is not helpful to people. The only difference is we are more inclined to treat spiritual claims as unprovable or worse, really not true at all, and therefore there is no need to proclaim a distinct truth in the midst of so many competing voices. God is always clear in his Word. There are no other gods than He. And in the historical eye-witnesses of the resurrection of his Son, Jesus the Christ, we have evidence lacking in any other spiritual or philosophical claim. Truth does matter, and what we profess by faith right now will one day be shown to be actually true.

Isaiah 44:6-8 – Isaiah’s ministry comes in the late eigth and early seventh centuries BC. God’s people in Judea and Jerusalem are also contending with an explosion of ideas and practices from many other peoples and places, and have incorporated many of these into their religious life. They may worship God in his temple, but they may also reverence other deities in other places and times. Against this the Word of God is firm – there are no other gods. God has no equal, only far inferior pretenders to his throne. Usurpers who will one day be shown for what they are, but who even now fail spectacularly to demonstrate any real power or authority compared to God’s. God alone is the creator. God alone reveals his plans to his people and then brings them to pass. It isn’t that God’s Word doesn’t provide powerful testimony to the truth of his identity and exclusivity, but people refuse to hear and see it for what it is. We who by the Holy Spirit stand in faith must be willing to endure the mocking or criticisms of a world and culture that want to dilute and distort truth in favor of more pleasing fictions. In love, we must maintain the truth as we have received it, praying they too will receive it!

Psalm 119:57-64 – If there is one God, one source of truth, would it not make sense to pursue that truth and make it the rule and guide of your life? Our obedience is not some payment to God but really the logical outflow of faith and trust in who He has revealed himself to be. How could we reasonably think to ignore or flout his truths, as though such decisions would not place us in risk of all manner of hurts and harms in this world? How could the faithful reasonably presume his words of guidance and wisdom don’t matter, don’t apply, or become irrelevant in the shifting tides of time and culture? Rather, once the source of all wisdom is found wouldn’t we treasure what has been revealed and constantly find ways to dig further into those depths? While this may risk the bemusement or antagonism of the world such concerns are are inferior to the gain in this life and eternally from aligning ourselves with the perfect wisdom and will of God, even if our aligment is marred by our sinful inability to obey perfectly. This psalm is a beautiful picture of what our life in faith can and should look like – a life of joy rather than grudging adherence.

Romans 8:18-27 – We often think of our situation in relationship to God in the singular, personal sense. But our estrangement from God through sin and our reconciliation to him through faith in Jesus the Christ is very much a universal and communal situation. It is not just you and I who look forward to our Lord’s return, but all creation, subjected to the pains and sufferings of sin because of Adam and Eve and you and I also looks forward to freedom from this suffering. All creation will be restored in the day of our Lord’s return. All creation will be renewed or recreated in pristine, perfect condition as it enjoyed in Genesis 1-2. This is not our hope – and hope not defined as we often think of it, as a wishful thinking or optimistic uncertainty about the future. Rather, hope here means a confident awaiting of a promised event. The event is not in question, only the timing is unknown.

In the meantime we deal with the suffering of creation, but we do not deal with it alone. The very Holy Spirit of God is always with us, and even if we are too weak or broken to pray, the Holy Spirit prays with and for us. God is always working on our behalf – Father, Son and Holy Spirit – that we might be sustained in our faith and hope until the final fulfillment of all things when Jesus returns. This is God the Father’s good and perfect plan, and He will bring it to completion!

Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43 – It’s easy to presume that God should simply destroy alternate truth claims. Those who are mistaken or intentionally misleading others should be divinely and publicly judged so that people might know the truth. But perhaps it isn’t as simple as that. Perhaps the uprooting of these people would prove more dangerous to the faithful in Christ than we imagine. Perhaps there are very good reasons – protective and loving reasons – why God suffers the work of Satan to continue in creation. Perhaps it is not simply for the good of the faithful. Perhaps this also demonstrates God the Holy Spirit’s firm commitment to pursuing all people until the last possible moment, extending always the truth in Christ and the promise of eternal life. Medieval artists and theologians pictured this battle for the soul between the agents of Satan and the powers of God to be ongoing to our last breath, and I think this is a good image – far better than the image that none of this matters so long as a person is happy or comfortable on their terms.

There will come a time when evil will be shown for what it is. In the meantime, we are often able to discern evil and falsehood with just a little exploration. It is not necessarily as complete a mystery all the time as some might like to imagine it or convince others. Judgment will come. Evil will be destroyed and God the Father’s absolute power and presence and goodness will be vindicated finally. Until then we don’t simply endure evil we pray that the power of evil would be frustrated and confined, and those bound up as captives to it in heart and mind would be freed from it, liberated by the good news of Jesus Christ and the offer of forgiveness freely made to all through him.

Theological Discussion?

July 9, 2020

I’m working through Eric Metaxas’ Martin Luther biography. I’ve long passed the section where Luther calls for theological debate on the matter of indulgences, often described as the “nailing” of the 95 Theses. Luther had concerns and called for theological discussion. Discussion did not ensue but rather a heavy-handed insistence by the Roman Catholic hierarchy that Luther simply do what they told him to do. The result was an unfortunate further rending of the one holy Christian and apostolic church as many congregations confess in the Nicene Creed regularly.

While Lutherans are proud of this heritage we could be better emulators of it. In light of what I posted yesterday from the Russian Orthodox Church regarding California’s surprise ban on singing and chanting in worship services, I decided to check the regional resource board for our denomination in terms of COVID-19 resources. What I found was an entire page of links. But every single link was to an outside secular source. The CDC, WHO, and various California and other state web sites regarding COVID-19 best practices and requirements.

It struck me as odd that as our region of our denominational polity struggles with not just rising case reports of Coronavirus but also secular policy that directly impacts the very nature of worship, there were no links or calls on our regional website for theological discussion on the matter. Our denomination has by and large said this is all a Romans 13 issue and the appropriate response is obedience to the dictates of the State. But rather than a simple top-down decision on this matter the body of Christ could benefit from some active discussion on the topic. I don’t necessarily disagree with our denominational stance. It’s certainly a good way of avoiding legal entanglements and negative publicity. But I’d like to think there could be some proactive theological discussion regarding worship and how singing and chanting play into it not just in terms of tradition but in terms of theology.

It’s a shame if the denomination that insisted on the freedom of the Christian in the Gospel of Jesus Christ 500 years ago is unwilling to see an ongoing necessity for both celebration and discussion. At the very least, posting some theological materials that discuss the issue and offer perspectives and exegesis to assist members and clergy and professional staff understand the nuances of our stance better would be helpful.

It just seems ironic the only thing we officially have to say on the matter isn’t something we’ve said at all – we’re simply repeating what other people are saying. People who aren’t necessarily theologically trained or even inclined. I don’t expect people outside the Church to be able to give this a lot of thought. I do have some pretty high expectations for the Church in this regard, though!

Well Said

July 8, 2020

A succinct and well-stated summary of the absurdity of banning singing and chanting in worship services while sympathetic ears and blind eyes are turned towards riots and protests around the country. It is only unfortunate that it needs to be said at all.

Reading Ramblings – July 12, 2020

July 5, 2020

Date: Sixth Sunday after Pentecost – July 12, 2020 – COVID-19; Euthanasia

Texts: Genesis 9:5-6; Psalm 139:1-16; 2 Corinthians 12:7-10; Matthew 5:21-26

Context: I offered my congregation the opportunity to request sermons on particular topics, Biblical passages, doctrinal stances, etc. I do this every few years. Generally I’m fascinated by the lack of response. Either the request is too unusual or people just aren’t used to thinking about what they’d like to hear a bit more about from the Bible or how to apply the Scripture to current issues and events. However, I did get one request this time around on the topic of euthanasia. So I am not using the Revised Common Lectionary Cycle A texts for this Sunday but rather a series of verses that address the foundational Biblical understanding about the sanctity of human life.

Genesis 9:5-6 – Most people think of the Fifth Commandment in regards to the sanctity of human life. And certainly that’s not a bad choice as an injunction against murder. But I prefer God’s words to Noah after the flood to provide a deeper context. In case we’re tempted to think of the Flood as a failed effort by God to restart things on a better footing, God clarifies just how holy human life is. There are many ways we can kill without violating the Fifth commandment – self-defense and capital punishment are just two Scriptural examples. But regardless of why we take a human life we need to know we will answer to God for it, and the implication here is that even in permitted circumstances we must never take human life for granted. We bear the imago dei, the image of God, and this makes human life valuable in a way incomparable in the rest of Scripture. To make ending a person’s life a matter of public policy or convenience or out of fear of suffering or the costs associated with care will one day be judged by no lower standard than God the Father himself.

Psalm 139:1-16 – Modern understandings of the human being as more or less a machine are dangerously superficial. Whether it is assumptions that medicines affect and work in all people equally or the lie that life begins at some arbitrary point after conception or that life ceases to have value and dignity once it is old or beleaguered with disease is to miss the relational aspect of human beings to our Creator. We are known, through and through. Not simply the byproduct of psychological pressures or genetic tweaking we are custom creations to such a degree that it is not without exaggeration but with too little serious pondering that we are unique in all of creation history. Never another person like us. Created and placed into history. That we might dismiss such a creation as no longer worth preserving based on arbitrarily and shifting criteria is terrifying. Likewise to the one who faces severe challenges in disease or health, the knowledge that they are created and never abandoned should be a light of hope in the darkest of conditions or diagnoses.

2 Corinthians 12:7-10 – What is the thorn of which Paul speaks? Nobody is certain as Paul never defines it himself. Theories emerge and recede based on issues prevalent at the time. Whether a physical injury or disorder or an emotional or psychological trauma, the important thing is that Paul is well aware of the thorn’s presence and desires it gone and prays for it to be removed. Yet he also accepts God’s good and gracious will, unpleasant as it is. Some argue there is no sense or purpose in suffering, and that if suffering is all someone has to look forward to, they should have the option available to them (or to their physicians or family) to end their life prematurely. While we are not required to take every conceivable step to save or preserve life, never should we aim at death as our goal. The God who created us is always present and able to work in and through even our suffering to his glory and our sanctification.

Matthew 5:21-26 – Murder is not so simple as the taking of another life, or our own. Rather, murder is committed when we dismiss any other person, when we reduce them to an inconvenience or an irritation and see them as anything less than a creature of God the Father’s who God the Son died to save so that God the Holy Spirit might establish them in faith and trust of this reality for God’s eternal praise and their eternal blessing. I have seen no accounts where authorizing or legalizing euthanasia leads to a higher view of human life. Rather, once the door opens more and more people in more and more circumstances are deemed eligible for termination, even if they do not want it for themselves. The best of alleged intentions – reduction of human suffering – opens the door to all manner of other sinful motivations. The notion that existence should be without suffering of any kind is a curious one, given the prevalence of suffering in one form or another through almost the entire span of a human lifetime. Sources of suffering might change, but so also do coping mechanisms and the experience of our God’s presence with us in powerful ways. To determine that no such coping and no such divine revelation can (or even should) occur is to destroy hope at a practical level and deny the hope clearly promised in the empty grave of Jesus the Christ.