Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Choosing Life

I have loved you,” says the LORD. (Mal 1:2a)
When the hard choices in life comes, how do we choose? Between life and death, which do we opt for? Sometimes it is tough. Like many first time parents, The Lauxes were overjoyed when they discovered Deidrea was pregnant with a baby boy. The joy was short-lived. 20 weeks into Deidrea’s pregnancy, they discovered that baby Thomas suffers from a rare genetic disease called Trisomy 13, which is an abnormality where there is an extra chromosome in the body cell. Also called Patau syndrome, more than 80% of the babies suffering from this condition dies within a month. Hobson's choice: To have or not to have the baby.

Should they choose to terminate the baby while in the womb? Should they proceed with the pregnancy, knowing that the baby may suffer a quick death? Life can be cruel. Yet the Lauxes made their choice to proceed. In a touching news coverage, Dallas Morning News chronicles the life of the Lauxes and baby Thomas in one of the most moving renditions of love in action.

For 5 days, the family braved an emotional roller-coaster, watching the cycle of living and dying being played out before their very eyes. They laughed. They cried. They carried. They later buried. Within five days, the Lauxes experienced the ecstatic joy of birthing Thomas, agonized over the pain and suffering for them together with Thomas, and mourned the passing at 5am, five days later. Even when baby Thomas was alive, while most new parents will be shopping for a nice crib or cradle, the Lauxes were at funeral parlors to select a suitable baby coffin. Life's not fair. Some even say life's downright cruel.

"They should have aborted!" screamed the pragmatics, armed with statistics and practical advice. Instead of flushing down the baby with the abortion option, Deidrea and TK chose life for Thomas. The choices before them was hard, and they chose life.

God Chose to Love Us

The book of Malachi begins with a remarkable statement of love. It was written to the Jews who had recently returned from their exile in Babylon around 500 BC. The Jerusalem temple has just been restored, but the people's spiritual condition was getting more and more deplorable. Not only were the Jews beginning to take God for granted, they were beginning to be disillusioned about their own future and the promises of God. Without hope, they have little to look forward to. Without affirming their trust in God, their faith is at most lukewarm, something which God utterly detests. In other words, the Jewish faith has entered the domain of nominal-ism. While physically they are returning back to their Jewish roots, spiritually they are dying.

As we all know, nominal religion is a symptom of a dying faith. Practitioners practice the bare minimum. Surely, God will know what end the Israelites will come to, yet he sent the prophet Malachi to prophesy and wake them up. It is remarkable that everything else in Malachi flows out of the declaration of God's love for Israel, even nominal Israel. God chose to want to give life to Israel, even when Israel is on the foolish path of self-destruction.

"Because He is our son"
It is gut-wrenching for new parents to see their new child born and then die within the same month. Painful can be an understatement. Let us not be distracted by the endless debate over the pros and cons of whether it is ethical or not for the Lauxes to choose to endure the pain, and to see baby Thomas born and die. Perhaps, we should even keep the philosophers away. Keep pro-lifers and pro-choice groups away too. This is not a time to take sides. Let's simply appreciate the Lauxes for their courage to go through what they chose to do. They knew they had a choice to abort a fetus that has a fatal genetic composition. They chose to let Thomas live. They knew their baby has an 80% chance of not surviving the first month. They went ahead with the normal delivery process. They knew that Thomas could die anytime, 11 minutes, 11 hours, or 11 days. Yet they chose life for Thomas. For all the debates over whether they are doing it right or wrong, let us acknowledge their love for Thomas. In their own words,
We know it will be a hard road but, I think sometimes when you make the toughest decisions you can get the greatest joys out of those. . . . We didn’t not terminate because we were hanging on to some sort of hope that there is a medical mistake or there is gonna be some kind of a medical miracle. We didn’t terminate because he is our son.” (Deidrea)
The Lauxes chose life simply because Thomas is their son. "Because he is our son." These 5 days of agonizing wait can be summed up in this five beautiful words. Deidrea and TK chose life simply because Thomas is their son.

Do babies go to heaven? Some say yes. Others say no. I trust that God will be the final arbiter of this, and it is not up to us to play God. God will be fair, and to have the babies under the gentle care and the fairest Judge in God will be the best 'heaven' any baby can ask for. Many of us will rejoice at this, at least for a while until it is our turn to say goodbye ourselves. There is also something else that deserves greater attention. Baby Thomas lived for a while, and 5 days later died. Christ died for a while, and 3 days later was resurrected, according to the Scriptures. This resurrection is the very hope of our life on earth. This resurrection will be true to life and the glory of God will be fully revealed when the kingdom comes. Then, all who are in Christ, will be resurrected with him. Even before we are formed in our mother's womb, God already knew us in our inmost being. He knew that we will be born in sin. Yet he chose to let us enter this world, and for Thomas, a short span of 5 days. God chose life for us. Far more significant, by sending his Son to die for us on the cross, he GAVE us life.

THOUGHT: Deidrea and TK chose life for Thomas that baby Thomas can live even though it is only for a while. God chose death for Christ, then resurrect Christ promising that the human race can live for eternity.

The Lauxes' 5 words for choosing life are: "Because he is our son."

God's 5 words to us: "Because you are my child."

"But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us." (Rom 5:8)


Choosing Thomas (9.5 minutes video) {Warning: It's a tear jerker.}

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