Looking Outside Yourself This Advent


The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel is taking a survey. Do you think a quadriplegic who suffers from depression should be able to order the removal of the tube that helps him breathe, and therefore keeps him alive?

The Life of Dan Crews

The story gives us a glimpse into Dan’s life:

Every day, Crews lies in bed for hours, staring at posters of cheerleaders, watching sports he will never play. When he wants to make a call or use the computer, he asks his nurses to bring him the telephone, which he pecks at with a stick he holds in his mouth. When he’s thirsty, he calls for a nurse, or for his mom, Cheryl Crews, who lives with him. They bring a drink and hold the straw up to his mouth for him as he sips.

“I have no friends. I have no education. No education prospects. No job prospects. I have no love prospects,” he said. “All I want is to no longer live like this.”

If you continue reading, though, Dan has an associate’s degree from the local community college. Educationally this puts him above two-thirds of the US population. The article continues, stating that Dan “longed to be a criminal prosecutor” but that “once he realized the logistical difficulties of schooling away from home, he let his courtroom dreams slip away.”

He hasn’t been outside in months because his motorized wheelchair is broken. The story explains that he has money remaining from the settlement, so it’s unclear why he has not had the chair repaired.

His depressed state oozes out to me as I read this information.

Yet, according to the article, “Crews said his desire to die stems not from his depression, but from his poor quality of life and the low odds that it will ever improve.”

I thought of two quadriplegics when I read Dan’s story, both of whom have very high quality of life, despite their limited mobility.

Stephen Hawking’s Iron Will

The first is Professor Stephen Hawking. He is considered to be one of the smartest men in the world. He continues to write books and scientific papers despite the fact that he cannot speak or move any part of his body. He has had 24-hour nursing care since 1985. Yet when asked about his disease he writes,

I am quite often asked: How do you feel about having ALS? The answer is, not a lot. I try to lead as normal a life as possible, and not think about my condition, or regret the things it prevents me from doing, which are not that many.

This man has a strong will to live. He is looking outside himself and living a broad life, even without being able to use his body.

Joni Eareckson Tada’s Worldwide Ministry

I went to a Christian women’s conference a few years ago. Joni Eareckson Tada was scheduled to speak at the conference. However, she was in such excruciating pain that she could not travel to Chicago. She sent us a recorded message, despite her extreme pain, telling us her story and of how she longed to be with us.

She was a paralyzed in a diving accident in her teens. Initially she wanted to kill herself.

However with the help of friends and family she overcame this initial grief and has founded an international ministry dedicated to serving the disabled: Joni and Friends. Her ministry amazes me.

Now that Joni has been diagnosed with cancer, she is using this disease as yet another opportunity to minister to those who are suffering from cancer and other diseases.

Show Your Love This Advent

Reading Dan’s story, I thought how nice it would be if I could let him know that I am praying for him as I prepare for Christmas this year. I wondered if his address was listed in the phone book, so I could send him a card and a note. His mother is, in fact, listed in the phone book:

Cheryl Crews (Send the cards to Dan Crews)
702 Wood Creek Dr
Antioch, IL 60002

Perhaps as you send out your Christmas cards this year, you could also send one to Dan Crews and let him know that he is not alone and that there are people all across the country praying that he has a blessed Christmas.

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