When my oldest daughter Abigail was born, she spent four days in the hospital's neo-natal unit because of some delivery complications. As first-time parents, we were terrified, but one thing that put the experience into perspective for us was the fact that friends from our church also had a baby in the NICU, and he was there a lot longer than four days—his name is Landon.
Landon was delivered at just twenty-three weeks. A brain injury caused cerebral palsy, and he was on a ventilator for 88 days. It was touch and go whether he would survive.
But Landon did survive. Cochlear implants now enable him to hear. And his mother told me that even though he shouldn’t be able to speak, he says more than a hundred words.
I thought of Landon last week when his mom posted a video on Facebook. During their Sunday church service, the children's choir stood to sing Christmas carols. Landon, even though he's not in the choir, spontaneously walked up front and joined the choir, and sang “Angels We Have Heard on High.”
All the other kids were neatly lined up, trying so hard to hold their hands dutifully still at their sides, but not Landon. He was bobbing around, arms flailing, singing at the top of his lungs.
It was one of the most beautiful sights I’d ever seen. And judging from all the likes and comments on Facebook, many others thought so too.
I couldn't help thinking that had Landon’s condition been diagnosed in utero, and had he been the child of another couple, he never would have drawn his first difficult breath. The sad statistics tell us that most parents abort children with disabilities—even slight ones.
And now, last week, we learned that the Belgian Senate has approved of euthanasia for children. Unbelievably, if sick children decide they want to die, doctors will cooperate. I can't help wondering, how many parents, tired of the care of a sick or disabled child, will suggest to their son or daughter that life is not really worth living. And if it’s like the other euthanasia laws we’ve seen evolve, pretty soon “consent” will be a very squishy concept. Kids like Landon would be even more at risk than they already are.
Children are always inconvenient to someone. Not long after Christ was born, Herod ordered the death of all the baby boys of Bethlehem—because they were inconvenient to his rule. They, like the children in Belgium today, were innocent victims of a very bad law. And so are children in America—more than a million of whom are exterminated before they’re born every year.
The images Belgium's law stirs up in my mind are a stunning contrast to what I saw last Sunday. Landon's parents—courageous, as parents are to be—gave him life, and have traveled with him every step of his difficult journey. And there he was, singing “Angels we have heard on high, sweetly singing o'er the plains”—announcing like those angels did that a Child was born beneath a Bethlehem star.
Landon's mother told me that she didn't know it at the time—but there would have been an opportunity for them to turn off the ventilator in those early NICU days. “I wonder,” she said, “how many NICU parents choose to turn off the vent because of such a bad diagnosis, and miss out on so much joy and learning?”
It's a good question to ponder as we celebrate the birth of this Christ Child, who came to restore and redeem our world, this world, that often sees nothing wrong with killing children. He did it through His own suffering—the only purely innocent suffering that the world has ever known. And His death, to quote from C.S. Lewis in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, turns death backwards.
Through the agony this Christ Child endured and his victory in resurrection, death itself dies, and all things will, one day, be made new—including my friend Landon.
For Eric Metaxas and our colleagues at BreakPoint and the Colson Center for Christian Worldview, this is John Stonestreet wishing you and yours a merry, holy Christmas.
BreakPoint is a Christian worldview ministry that seeks to build and resource a movement of Christians committed to living and defending Christian worldview in all areas of life. Begun by Chuck Colson in 1991 as a daily radio broadcast, BreakPoint provides a Christian perspective on today’s news and trends via radio, interactive media, and print. Today BreakPoint commentaries, co-hosted by Eric Metaxas and John Stonestreet, air daily on more than 1,200 outlets with an estimated weekly listening audience of eight million people. Feel free to contact us at BreakPoint.org where you can read and search answers to common questions.
John Stonestreet, the host of The Point, a daily national radio program, provides thought-provoking commentaries on current events and life issues from a biblical worldview. John holds degrees from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School (IL) and Bryan College (TN), and is the co-author of Making Sense of Your World: A Biblical Worldview.
Publication date: December 24, 2013