On My Wife's Victory

You may have heard it said that Melinda lost her battle with cancer.  If so, you heard wrong.  She won the battle, and she did so in glorious fashion.  

When it comes to the kingdom of heaven, truth is often paradoxical.   What seems true is often false, and what seems false is often true; what appears wise is foolish, and what seems foolish is the very height of wisdom.  Consider:

The last will be first, and the first last (Matt. 20:16)

Whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it (Matt. 16:25)

Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted (Matt. 23:12) 

What conventional wisdom deems to be true is often false because we are looking at it from the wrong perspective.  Conventional wisdom says that Melinda lost her battle with cancer.  After all, it took her life.  But there is a larger frame of reference to consider.  

In the book of Revelation, Jesus gives both warnings and words of encouragement to the seven churches of Asia Minor, and also in each case a promise to “the one who overcomes.”  And how is their triumph to be measured?  In terms of escaping death?  This is what we are tempted to think—that victory comes through an escape from harm.  But this was not what Jesus said.  He defined victory, not in terms of avoiding death, but in terms of being faithful in the face of death. 

Do not fear what you are about to suffer.  Behold, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and for ten days you will have tribulation.  Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life.  He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.  The one who conquers will not be hurt by the second death (Rev. 2:10-11) 

The one who overcomes is not the one who escapes testing and tribulation, not the one who escapes persecution and death, but the one who remains faithful even if it should cost him his life.  Although Jesus speaks in this passage about faithfulness under the test of persecution, the principle applies to tests of other kinds as well.  The important thing is not that we escape testing, or what kinds of tests may come our way, or what suffering we endure, but that we remain faithful.  

This is why I say that Melinda won her battle with cancer.  She suffered a severe trial, but she remained faithful to the end.  

When tests last August showed the cancer had returned, and we were given a none too hopeful prognosis, we were crushed.  You can imagine our tears.  Never had we grieved so hard.  When we finally regained some composure, her first words, choked through her sobs, were, “Olivia is only fourteen.”  Then, “I don’t want Lizzy to be sad at her wedding” (only two months away).  Then, “I want to see our grandbabies grow up.”  

In the days and weeks that followed, many other reasons for grief surfaced…along with fear, disappointment, and questions.  Lots of questions.  But what never surfaced was any hint of resentment.  She never blamed the Lord or ever found fault with him.  Soon after the diagnosis, she said that whatever happened, she hoped God would be glorified in her.  

I believe he was.  

Melinda bore her suffering with remarkable grace and patience, and a with a deep, deep trust in the Lord, a faith she held throughout her life, and never more so than at the end.  Jesus said, “Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks” (Matt. 12:34).  In her last hours, when she could hardly otherwise think or speak, she called out repeatedly, “Lord Jesus, help me.”  “O Lord, my king, help me.”  “O Father, help me.”  She spoke out of the abundance of her heart.  Like David, she could say, “I have set the Lord always before me; because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken” (Ps. 16:8).  This was how she lived, and this was how she died, with the Lord always set before her.  

This is why it would be wrong to say she lost her battle with cancer. 


Marlena Routledge said…
Thank you for this beautiful exposition of victory! Her desire that God would be glorified in her is fulfilled. I look forward to seeing her again.
Unknown said…
Dear friend,

As I read these beautifully penned words my heart breaks for you and yet, it gives me such hope. I will not pretend that it is all going to be fine in a few months. It is not going to be. You have some really hard days ahead of you, BUT you will not walk them alone. Jesus is with you. You can lean on Him. He is our Rock and Shelter in times of trouble.

Thank you for being so real about Melinda's sickness. Her grace and joy have always been so contagious. I am not sure how much you realize this, but this place needs you. You speak truth and you do not back down from hard subjects. Thank you for that.

We will continue to lift you and your sweet family up to God.

God speed my friend!

Melodie Barton
Doug Enick said…
Thank you, both, Marlena and Melodie.
Unknown said…
Thank you for sharing this personal experience with suffering and death. I'm always looking for perspective as I spend alot of time with patients who choose to die at home.
I have particular trouble with that word 'dying' because we use it most often for something that ceases to be. That is and is not my experience.
I think it is more accurate to say someone left their body behind. And that's the greatest difficulty, I believe, being left with a part of someone while their truest essence leaves us and goes where we cannot go now.
I watch people suffer and seek to come to grips with this 'leaving' and that is where platitudes loose their strength. I think it takes alot of strength to leave. It's alot of work for our bodies to die and it sounds like your wife found the strength to in our Lord. Beautifully done.
Our part must be finding the strength to let Him be our comfort and our companion in their place. I hope you keep looking up.

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