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On Suffering

by David Domzalski  
12/04/2016 / Christian Living

I read a very tragic story this morning on The Independent (link below) about a Dutch man who decided to end his life due to his bout with alcoholism. He decided to have himself euthanized through lethal injection, which was legalized in the Netherlands 16 years ago. This law is "available to people in 'unbearable suffering' with no prospect of improvement." And, according to the article, this man named Mark Langedijk, chose to use the law to end his pain.

The article talks about how Mark "chose the day of his death and was telling jokes, drinking beer and eating ham sandwiches with his family hours before he passed away." A doctor came to his parents' home afterwards, had Mark lay in bed, and administered the injections. Even though his family didn't take him seriously at first, they accepted and even defended his decision.

I share this with you about Mark because of the immense sadness that surrounds this story and this man's life. He was an alcoholic. He was from what seemed to be a nice family. But, he was having a tough time and dealt with this disease for 8 years or more. I'm sure he tried to get help and get treatment, but it was all to no avail. Instead, he chose death rather than continue to struggle.

Now, it would be easy for me as an Orthodox Christian to lay into Mark and his family. I could say things like "he will never make it to Heaven because he ended his life." Or "what he did is a mortal sin" (from my days as a Catholic). Or "how dare they play God!"

Yes, I could do that and wanted to. But, that's not what this situation calls for. That's being prideful and thinking I know better. Which God has reminded me time and time again I do NOT know better at all!

Rather, Mark, his family, and those suffering with similar ailments should be pitied. Not in a degrading sense. But, they should be shown compassion and love. Mark is a child of God. His family lost a son and brother. Instead of allowing God to work though him, he chose to end his life.

We all have something we battle. Maybe it's alcoholism like Mark. Or drugs. Or a sex addiction. Or we hate our jobs. Or we don't feel loved or appreciated. Whatever it is we battle it for a reason. As St. Paul said in his second letter to the Corinthians (12:8-10):

"[8] Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. [9] But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. [10] That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
When we battle, when we struggle, when we want to give up and just end it all already, that is when God is working in us. God's power is made perfect in these battles, struggles, and weaknesses. He is the source of all strength."

Pray for Mark and his family. Pray for those who struggle. Pray for all of us.

And let Mark's life and death be a lesson for all of us. We need to let go and give the control to God.

Delight in your weaknesses as Paul did.

Only then will we be made strong and equipped to endure all life throws at us.

God bless all of you.

#KeepTheFaith #FinishTheRace #FightTheGoodFight


David Domzalski is an Orthodox Christian who is out to help others draw closer to God. He lives in Gettysburg, PA with his wife, son, and pug. Visit David at and follow him on Twitter @DavidDomzalski. God bless all of you.

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