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)
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
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.