He threw her away, just like garbage.
Well, not quite "just like." He didn't actually stuff her into a plastic bag and sling her into a Dumpster, but his actions made it clear that she was dismissed as a person in his mind.
Yes, she was dying, but no, she hadn't ceased to be part of the human race. She could still see, and hear, and could still squeeze your hand, almost until the very end of her life. Cancer had robbed her of just about everything, and was stealing away her very life, but she still had value.
She was worthy of his fidelity, not the choice he made: an extramarital affair.
He should have respected the value that her personal things might have had to her children, but his agenda would not allow compassionate thinking. He literally threw those things away, in order to have room in the house, her house, to move his mistress in. The cohabitation began while his wife still lived.
The dying woman needed her husband by her side, loving her only, right up until the last breath of her life, but lost him to a woman who couldn't wait even months to throw away her own marriage and begin anew, with someone else's husband.
The quiet but alert patient, who sang along with her favorite hymns in bits and pieces until she could no longer speak, deserved to be loved and treated with compassion and respect.
We all do. How is it, then, that so many human beings, like this woman, are just discarded, in a practical if not literal sense, as if they were no more valuable than yesterday's paper? The elderly, the infirm, and anybody unfortunate enough to become an inconvenience are packed up and sent away "somewhere," and a sad percentage of them never have a single visitor, year in and year out.
Have we become a society so used to disposable items that the mentality applies to even people?
Will having a child interrupt your career trajectory, or ruin your figure, or cut into your disposable income? Have a "procedure" done, and get rid of the problem.
Are the children you already have interfering with your busy lifestyle? Just pawn them off on the school system, a daycare center, or any activity anywhere, so they're not bugging you so much all the time.
I fear that some have even discarded their spouse, for no better reason than that they wanted to pursue an "upgrade."
These social ills plague society as a whole, but an even more troubling problem is that things like abortion and divorce (and too many others to list) abound within the church in nearly the same staggering numbers as in the "secular" world.
What's the answer?
Well, nothing quick and convenient enough for us, I'm afraid. A pervasive change of heart and mind is needed, individual-by-individual, starting within the church.
So I propose a simple exercise. Think about it every time you throw something away, or take out the trash. Is your attitude toward a specific person, or any group of people, not what God would want it to be? Do you dismiss someone as having no value? Beginning today, on the National Day of Prayer, let God work on you.
And I'll let him work on me. I'm familiar with the details of the cancer patient's story because I'm her daughter. I need God's gentle guidance in my life right now, more than ever, because of my grief over her loss, but also because of my anger over how she was discarded and replaced.
Lord, let her story touch people. Let her life, and even her death, count for something. Let us see people with Your eyes, so we can appreciate the true and lasting value each and every person has. Give us hearts overflowing with compassion. Where we've gotten lost, show us the way back to You. Cleanse our hearts of hate or bitter disappointment. Help us to throw away the attitudes we shouldn't hold, but never a person. Never, ever a person.
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