Last week I performed a funeral for a six-week old baby. His name is Micah. I had never done anything like this. Micah was by far the youngest person I had ever eulogized. It was beyond difficult. There are no words to say. There is nothing like speaking next to that tiny casket and nothing on earth can prepare you for standing there as a young mom wails for her child. It is sad and horrible.
Micah spent his entire life in the hospital. He was born early with all sorts of medical issues. His mom spent every possible moment with him while he struggled. His father would work four days, then drive two hours to the hospital to spend three days before returning to work. Though tubes and wires covered his little body, I saw wonderful pictures of mom and dad holding him. Though his entire life was a trial and struggle, he was deeply loved every moment.
As I preached Micah’s funeral there were no stories I could tell. I could not talk about how he loved to fish, or tell the story of the first date with his wife. He didn’t live long enough to acquire the usual menagerie of embarrassing moments, interesting hobbies, and sweet acts of service that we typically share at someone’s passing. So what do you say about someone whose obituary is so short? If I was to say anything, I had to return to a most basic truth.
He is valuable. He is precious. Not because of the job he works or the people he takes care of. Not because of his outsized personality or his unique talents. He is precious and valuable because he is. Plain and simple. He is worthwhile because he is a person. A human being.
How often in this world we quickly rush to what people have to offer us. They can give us love, a good job, an education or friendship. Even those we serve offer us a chance to relieve our guilt or feel good about ourselves.Rarely, do we strip it all away and see that a person is truly valuable because they are.
What kind of world would exist if we truly became people who are pro-life? Not anti-abortion, but pro-life. Seeing the value of every person. Babies and the elderly. Politicians and prisoners. Those we agree with and those whose ideas we find absurd or even abhorrent. What if we saw those who disagree with us not as opponents, but as precious?
Every person has value. They may be wasting their life, they may be committing atrocities, they may be a hate-spewing racist. But they have value. And when we see them as anything less than precious, we trade in our own worth to take up the mantle of judgement, indifference and hate that we so often cry against.
This all comes from the idea that Micah’s obituary is short. That does not mean he accomplished nothing. He brought out the most amazing kind of love and dedication from two very young parents. He matured them. He brought them closer together. And he taught me the value of life. In many ways, he accomplished more than most people do in a lifetime.