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On Life Support

Medical equipment in hospital

It’s never an easy decision.  At some point, when a loved in the hospital is at the point of death and doctors have done absolutely everything they can to restore their health, a decision has to be made about the continued use of artificial means of support life.

The person simply cannot breathe on their own.  They cannot swallow.  They are unconscious.  They will likely never regain consciousness.  The person is kept alive through medical interventions alone.  And that is all that is keeping them alive. 


Oddly, the most robust, healthy person in the world – is on life support.  They don’t sense the precarious nature of their situation, but each second of their life is lived on the edge.  We are all one heartbeat away from eternity.

Consider how God-dependent we are.

First, God gives us our physical life.  Genesis 2:7 says, “The Lord God formed the man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.”  God breathed life into Adam.  And he’s been breathing life into people ever since.

Secondly, he gives spiritual life to all who believe.  When a person puts faith in Christ, he or she is given new life.  In speaking to Nicodemus, Jesus referred to this spiritual life as a second birth.  He called it being born again.  (John 3:3).  This miracle of rebirth is completely the work of God and is supernatural in nature.  In speaking to the believers in Ephesus, the Apostle Paul said that God “made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in our transgressions – it is by grace you have been saved.” (Ephesians 2:5)

Life is completely - from start to finish – a gift of God's grace. 

But our dependence on God extends even further than that.  We are, in fact, completely dependent on God for everything in our lives.  We are dependent on him for the power and ability to become more like Jesus.  We are dependent on him for the ability to think clearly, work hard, make a living and raise a family.  It’s not just our first breath of life that comes from God.  Every breath of every moment comes from him.

So – where is there room for boasting?  There isn’t any.  1 Corinthians 1:28-31 says that “God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things . . . so that no one may boast before him.  It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption.  Therefore, as it is written: ‘Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord.’”

Runner crossing finish line

Sometimes people lean on their natural strengths, abilities and hard work as a source of pride.  They feel like they’ve done well with the talents and skills they’ve been given.  But, of course, that’s just the point.  Those talents and skills have been given to them by God!  In 1 Corinthians 4:7 Paul asks his readers a question:  “For who makes you different from anyone else?  What do you have that you did not receive?  And if you did receive it, why do you boast as if you did not?” 

In a sermon preached in Boston on July 8, 1731 pastor and theologian Jonathan Edwards addressed the issue of our dependence on God.  It was his contention that God is actually honored and glorified when we realize and acknowledge our complete dependence on him for everything.  “It is of God that Christ becomes ours, that we are brought to him, and are united to him. . . It is of God that we actually receive all the benefits that Christ has purchased. . . It is of God that the redeemed receive all their true excellency, wisdom, and holiness . . .” (The sermon is titled, God Glorified in Man's Dependence)

Everything we have in life is a gift from God!  And God is honored when we acknowledge that fact and live as if it is true.

In the same sermon Edwards goes on to say, “Man is naturally, exceedingly prone to exalt himself, and depend on his own power or goodness; as though from himself he must expect happiness. He is prone to have respect to enjoyments alien from God and his Spirit, as those in which happiness is to be found. But this doctrine should teach us to exalt God alone: as by trust and reliance, so by praise. Let him that glories, glory in the Lord.”

We must escape the illusion that our lives are in our hands – that we are the masters of our fate – that we are calling the shots – and that we can do just about anything we want to do with our lives.  We can only do what God grants that we do. We are completely dependent on him for everything!  

We are all on life support.

And for that . . . I am thankful.




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