Posts tagged ‘Judge’

Help Needed

Moses had gotten himself in too deep. As he and the children of Israel were traveling through the wilderness on their way to the Promised Land, he had not only taken on the role of leader, but of judge:

Moses took his seat to serve as judge for the people, and they stood around him from morning till evening. (Exodus 18:13)

The Israelites were going a bit stir crazy in the wilderness, and they were getting into so many disagreements and disputes with each other that Moses was spending all day trying to arbitrate their altercations. He had time for nothing else.

When Moses’ father-in-law, Jethro, comes to visit his son-in-law, he is impressed by what God has done for Israel, but is concerned over what Moses is doing with Israel. He says to Moses:

What you are doing is not good. You and these people who come to you will only wear yourselves out. The work is too heavy for you; you cannot handle it alone. (Exodus 18:17-18)

Jethro knows that Moses needs help. He cannot judge alone.

Jethro’s words hearken back to God’s words when He saw that the first man He created, Adam, had no one to help him through and with life:

It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him. (Genesis 2:18)

So, God created Eve.

In a world where it is noble to be a self-made person and self-sufficiency rules, Jethro reminds us that our limits are blessings. We cannot do it all. We need help. Contrary to our cultural myths of independence and autonomy, it is not good for us to be alone and to try to carry every burden alone.

We don’t always like to hear this, because our limits humble us. Sometimes, we’d prefer to live under a delusion that we are, if not theoretically and theologically, at least functionally omnipotent. But our limits are ultimately meant to bless us. Because they create opportunities for us to form relationships with others who we need – and who need us.

Who do you need to ask for help? The help you ask for may just be the start of a beautiful friendship that you need. And that is good.

April 11, 2022 at 5:15 am Leave a comment

Charlie Gard and the Tenacity of Hope

Screen Shot 2017-07-05 at 5.49.30 PM

Credit:  Independent

There is a hardly a more compelling example of the ravages of disease warring against the hope for life than that of Charlie Gard.  Charlie is almost a year old now, born last August in the U.K.  Shortly after his birth, it was discovered that he had a rare genetic condition known as mitochondrial DNA depletion syndrome, which affects vital internal organs such as, as in Charlie’s case, the kidneys and brain.  At present, Charlie is being kept alive by a ventilator, but the hospital at which Charlie is staying asked a judge back in March to rule that life support should be discontinued, which the judge ruled in support of in April.  Charlie’s parents appealed the ruling, but did not get it overturned.  Both President Trump and Pope Francis have signaled their support for Charlie, with the pope even offering Charlie a spot at the Vatican pediatric hospital for continuing treatment.  Charlie’s parents have asked to have their son transferred to the U.S. for an experimental treatment, which has had some limited success, but the U.K. hospital has refused to do so, citing legal hurdles.

The issues in this dispute are legion.  Should a judge have the ability to trump parents’ wishes with regard to their own child, provided that the parents are seeking the genuine welfare and, in this case, the continued life, of their son?  Are Charlie’s parents seeking the correct course of action, considering their son is not able to live, at least at this point, apart from extraordinary and continuous medical intervention?  And what are the hopes for some sort of improvement or change in Charlie’s condition if he is moved elsewhere to receive treatment?

It is the last of these questions that is most captivating to me because it is the question that sits in the background of the first two questions.  The U.K. believes there is no real hope for Charlie’s recovery.  Charlie’s parents believe there is enough hope for, at minimum, some sort of improvement that they want to continue his life support and investigate an experimental treatment.  This battle royal, then, boils down to hope.

Over the course of my ministry, I have known more than one person who was terminally ill and, when presented with an option for an experimental treatment, declined and instead chose to go into hospice because they did not see any real hope for healing, even with the treatment.  This does not mean, however, that these people did not have any hope.  Their hope was simply located in a different place – not in a treatment, but in a Lord who can call even the dead to life.  Whether it is a temporary stay on death by means of a medical treatment, or an eternal resurrection on the Last Day by means of a trumpet call and a returning Christ, hope for life, it seems, will not be squelched.

Theologically, the irrepressibility of hope for life makes sense because, in the beginning, death was not part of God’s plan.  Contrary to Yoda, death is not a natural part of life – and we know it, even if only intuitively.  Death, Scripture says, is an enemy to be defeated.  And though Charlie’s parents cannot conquer death like Christ, they do seem voraciously intent on confronting death through the very best that medicine has to offer their son.

It does unsettle me that a judge would arrogate to himself the prerogative of telling two parents whether or not their son can receive a potentially life-saving treatment.  I will confess that, according to the information at hand, the hospital is probably correct in its estimation of Charlie’s recovery prospects.  But hope has a funny way of looking beyond the information at hand to divine intervention.  And that is a hope that is worth holding on to.  Indeed, as Christians, we know that is the hope Jesus died to give and rose to secure.  I hope the hospital and the British legal system can respect that hope.

July 10, 2017 at 5:15 am 2 comments


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