Written By Soo Yi, Malaysia
Some time ago, one movie caught my attention. It was the romantic film, “Me Before You”. I first saw the trailer on Facebook, and was particularly intrigued by the scene where the male lead tells the female lead, “You are pretty much the only thing that makes me wanna get up in the morning.” I remember thinking to myself: What could one be going through that causes him to make such a statement?
While I don’t really like watching romantic films, this statement fascinated me so much that I decided to get my hands on the novel.
In a nutshell, the story revolves around an ordinary girl, Louisa Clark, who becomes a caregiver to Will, a once-promising entrepreneur who had become a paraplegic due to an accident. Depressed by his disability, Will loses his will for living and is set on ending his life after six months. When Louisa learns of Will’s plan, she tries to change his mind by engaging him in a myriad of activities, which include watching horse races and going on holidays. Through the course of these activities, they develop feelings for each other.
At this point, I was convinced that Louisa would be able to change Will’s mind and inspire him to continue living. Little did I know that the ending would be the complete opposite (spoilers ahead). Not only is Will adamant on undergoing euthanasia, he even changes Louisa’s attitude to life.
When I finished reading the book, I was upset for an entire day.
The novel got me thinking seriously about suffering and the sanctity of life, and I couldn’t help but be reminded of Job in the Bible. Like Will, Job used to own a lot but suffered immense personal loss when everything he had—his loved ones, wealth, and health—was taken away from him. Job was in such deep agony that he cursed the day that he was born and wished he was never born (Job 3:11). He even cried out to God and questioned why God put him through such difficult circumstances. Despite all that he faced, however, Job never gave up on God. Eventually, Job recognized that God was in ultimate control and God blessed Job with more than he had at the start.
At this juncture, let me qualify that I’m not trying to compare the degree of misery and suffering faced by Job and Will because I’m not in either of their shoes. Just the thought of what they went through sends shivers down my spine. But one lesson I think we can learn from both of them is that what we value in life will affect our perspective towards life. If we place our meaning in life on material and secular things, we can easily lose the resolve to go on when these things are taken away from us. Perhaps that is one of the key reasons why the Bible urges us to “fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal” (2 Corinthians 4:17-18).
From the Bible, we also learn that death is never the solution. Sure, we may go through great trial and agony, such as in the case of Job, who lost all his strength, prospects, and power to help himself (Job 6:11-13). Some people may choose to end their lives because they simply cannot see any way out of their difficulties. But as Christians, we do know that there is a way out. There is a hope for us. No matter how difficult or challenging our circumstances may be, or how despondent we feel, we have the hope of returning to our heavenly home someday. And we have this hope because Jesus has overcome the world (John 16:33).
In Psalm 46:1, we are also reminded that God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. God also promised us in Psalm 121:1-8 that He will protect us. As such, even though it is inevitable that we will encounter trials and challenges, we can be comforted by the fact that God is present and faithful. When we are tempted, He will provide us a way out so that we can endure it (1 Corinthians 10:13).
Even though “Me Before You” is just a fictional story, I cannot help but think that the ending would be a lot different if the character Will had God in his life. Similarly, it is my prayer that all of us will always remember to hold onto God’s promises in our life, especially in times of great suffering. Let’s not let adversity get the better of us, because Jesus has won the ultimate victory over suffering and death.