I was talking with some friends today about medical issues. I told them I had heard people say they didn't want any extreme measures if they were critically ill. But I said, “I want extreme measures.” Life is precious. And it is good even if I am in pain or debilitated.
Immediately one of them gave the common answer that I was reacting against in the first place.
“Well,” he said, “you don't want to live if you don't have quality of life.”
I did not answer him, but I have been thinking about what gives quality of life. I don't believe it is comfort or freedom from pain.
I believe quality of life has to be related to purpose. As writers you know something about purpose. But in fact, any believer in Jesus Christ should be aware of divine purpose. If you are still alive God has a purpose for you on this Earth. God has a purpose for you even beyond this life. And knowing hope beyond this life ought to make us want to fulfill every purpose God has for us until we step into eternity.
If you do not know God's purpose for your life, you need to seek earnestly to learn what He is doing around you. Even if you don't know all that God wants to do through you, you can begin by obeying Him in small things that you know to do.
Among other things, this will shape your prayer life. I have frustrated some loved ones by telling them, “Every time I have prayed for God to heal me, I have sensed Him reminding me that it is appointed unto man once to die. In fact, I have seen a kind of healing. I am still alive years longer than my doctors thought I would be. But I still have cancer.
Earlier one of the friends I was talking to said, possibly in jest, that he wouldn't want to live if he couldn't play golf. Particularly as a writer I know I can still enjoy things I can no longer participate in. This really relates to being an intellectual. I don't think being an intellectual necessarily means you are smart. I have explained it like this for years. I would rather hear or tell a story about a boy hitting a homerun than to hit a homer myself. I have enjoyed fly fishing for a long time. I am afraid I can longer negotiate the rough stream banks. But I can still enjoy fishing in my memories and imagination.
So how do I pray for my cancer, and my life for that matter? I pray what David prayed in Psalm 138. “Lord, fulfill your purpose for me.” If God allows me to live when I can no longer write, then I hope I can still pray for people around me. And I pray that He will be glorified in me however He brings that about.