Originally published Tuesday, 21 October 2014.
This post is dedicated to Kara Tippetts, author of The Hardest Peace: Expecting Grace in the Midst of Life’s Hard. Kara, a mother of four who is currently battling cancer, wrote a powerful letter to Brittany Maynard, a 29-year-old cancer patient who has decided to take her own life on November 1st. The letter was published on Ann Voskamp’s blog, and has had a huge impact on many, including myself.
The two of us knelt on either side of her bed, my sister and I. She was too weak to rise, and we all knew it was time. Time for her to stop the chemo after four consecutive years of nonstop treatment. The intensity of the side effects increased with every day, and we were convinced the chemo would kill her before the cancer did.
We all wiped away tears, but her resolve never wavered. She knew in Whom she had trusted, and her hope was an anchor, firm and secure.
It had been just the three of us girls ever since I was seven. She had given everything for us, and now she was slipping away, like sand between my fingers. I wanted to close my fist, to grasp harder, tighter, but I could see how much she hurt when I squeezed.
So I let my fingers ease open until my palms were spread open in surrender, “Take her, Lord. Just take her home.”
She was literally wasting away, a tangible manifestation of 2 Corinthians 4:16. I could see it with my own eyes, the way the skin hung loose from her bony hand, and I could hardly bear the weight of it.
He didn’t take away the pain, but the weight of sin that He bore on the cross made that morning at the bedside bearable. His sacrifice was the sole glimmer of hope in an otherwise dark, dark moment.
Because of Him, and because of my mom’s trust and faith in Jesus Christ, we could have peace.
The hardest peace is seeing ‘life’s hard’ and choosing to focus on the ‘yet’ and the ‘but’:
“Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.
For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.
So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen.
For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”
~ 2 Corinthians 4:16-18
The hardest peace is fixing our eyes on what is unseen.
It’s seeing the ship on the surface being thrashed about by violent waves, and trusting the anchor sunk deep and unmoving in the bed of the sea.
It’s resisting the whispers of the world that tell us, “Right now is the most important thing. This is all that matters.”
But the hardest peace is the best peace.
It’s the peace that passes all understanding. The peace that comes from a Source wholly other than oneself.
“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” ~ John 14:27
It’s seeing the outward wasting away and yet trusting in the promise of “an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade.”
It’s knowing that “this inheritance is kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power …”
The hardest peace is believing that “though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials, these have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.”
It’s enduring all of the ugly, gut-wrenching suffering and yet possessing “an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls.”
That is the bottom line. That is our goal. Not relief from pain. Not the absence of suffering.
The salvation of our souls.
And purely by God’s grace, my mom reached her goal at age 59, to the glory of God.