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.

This post has also been written in conjunction with the #HardestPeace Challenge and Giveaway, sponsored by Litfuse Publicity.




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.

But God.

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.



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12 thoughts on “the hardest peace

  1. I checked out Ann and kara’s links – than you for sharing those, and for sharing this story. It’s heart-rending.

    (Please pardon the length of what follows. I hope it helps someone, somewhere.)

    I’m in a similar place, but my mindset is a bit different. I’ve got the Crocodile Dundee faith…”God and Jesus and all the Apostles…they were all fishermen, just like me. Yeah…me and God. We’d be mates.”

    I wasn’t a fisherman, closer to a legionnaire, but close enough.

    My doctor says I’m going to die, sooner rather than later, and it’s going to be nasty. There’s no money for treatment, and no insurance…we fall through the net. Tough luck, eh?

    So it’s up to me, and I am meeting this thing (my one point of reference to Patrick Swayze and Luciano Pavarotti) with all of the ferocity and venom I can muster. I will force myself past the pain it inflicts, so I know that I can face tomorrow. Sure, that leaves me in a fetal position, puking blood. And…for the first time I will admit this…incontinent.

    So what?

    We’re all going to face the Reaper. It may be in the instant apotheosis of being too close to an IED, or a lingering mess. But there’s no way out.

    So the question is – how do we face it? You may have guessed that I am not the hearts-and-flowers type. Pity doesn’t cut it with me. This is a war, and as long as I can draw one more breath, I’m still in the fight.

    And I expect that attitude from those around me. (And there aren’t too many people around me, which is probably a good thing, for “survivors” are not necessarily nice folk to hang with. They tend to ruthlessness, especially toward themselves. I have been told it hurts to see that.)

    And so, the battle. I’m going to go down, maybe, but I will fill these dark places with such a noise and so much devastation that all the demons of Hell will shrink back in fear, and God and all His angels will stand aside, heads bowed, as I step through the Pearly Gates.

    But that day is a long time off. I am still here today, and today, I won.

    • Thank you, Andrew, for taking the time to read and comment. I’m so very sorry for the trial that you’ve been given to endure. Praying now for sufficient grace in the midst of the pain, and for mercies that are new every morning. Strength to you.

  2. Kate, I hope you will pardon a short additional comment. It’s made on behalf of a soldier/poet named henry lee. He’d undoubtedly post this himself, but he’s dead.

    “Fighting On”

    I see no gleam of victory alluring,
    no hope of splendid booty or of gain.
    If I endure, I must go on enduring,
    and my sole reward for bearing pain – is pain.
    Yet though the thrill, the zest, the hope are gone,
    something within me keeps me fighting on.

    Lt. Lee was captured on Bataan in 1942. He survived the Death march and two years of horrendous treatment only to die when a Japanese ‘hell ship’ taking him to the Home Islands was sunk in late 1944.

    He buried his writings before leaving the prison camp in the hope that someone would one day find them. Thank God, someone did.

  3. “To the glory of God”… He gives and He takes. Your open hand says so much to me as I clench my fist for many of life’s issues, for people I love, for circumstances. Surrendering is what He has called us to do. In the doing of that, there is peace, albeit the hardest at times. But that peace is His and He is our Peace.
    I praise God for all who have had to let go of someone cherished and allow them to be with their Lord. I released Mama about a year and a half ago. I miss her so yet I know where she is and where she wanted to be.
    Caring through Christ, ~ linda

  4. I don’t think a doctor is not following his oath when he helps someone to die more peacefully. I think that is helping her. And I don’t believe that we should be judging anyone in their last days. I have nothing but respect for Brittany. She doesn’t need our judgement now. She will be judged by God. And he is a loving God and will welcome her home with open arms. I think it is time that women support each other even when what we are doing is not what someone else would do. I pray for all women. Those who are dying. Those who are watching others die. Those who are fighting so hard to live. (P.S. I just watched my husband die after a 3 year long battle suffering some tremendous pain and inability to breathe. No one should have to die like that. I am thankful that I had a loving and generous Hospice team to help him with his gentle end as he was welcomed into Jesus’ arms) We are kinder to animals in our society than we are to people. And God made all of us!!

    • Oh Paula, I am so very sorry for your loss, and for all that you’ve endured. May the peace that passes understanding be so very evident, and may you know the Lord’s strength and comfort in your grief.

  5. It is the hardest thing to say goodbye to a person who has been struggling so long with cancer. What I hold in my heart, though, are the memories I have of the good times that we spent together.

  6. Thanks for sharing your story! So beautiful Kate. I can’t help but wonder what your mom would think of your words here. I think she would be so blessed to know that you have followed safely, by God’s grace, in her footsteps.

  7. I hope it’s OK that I revisit this post, and comment again – I just read about Ms. Maynard completing her bucket list by visiting the Grand Canyon.

    And to be honest, it pissed me off. Please pardon the language, but that’s about as gentle as I can make it.

    This morning I could not walk down the driveway to open the gate for my wife, on her way to work. I was throwing up too much blood. Grand Canyon? In my dreams. I can’t even get into town for a McDonald’s lunch any more.

    I understand that Ms. Maynard doesn’t want to go through a further decline – I get it. But to pull the plug while one is still able to get the bucket list done…dude, there is something creepy about that. Something that worships at the Youth and Beauty altar.

    She writes that she can’t forget her cancer. I can’t forget either, for one single moment, because everything bloody hurts. But it’s no reason to wish oneself dead.

    She has headaches and seizures and fatigue, and I’m sorry, but I have spasms that drop me to the floor, screaming. This is not a reason for suicide.

    I don’t want to speak ill of the soon-to-be-dead, but this whole thing is nuts. The viral nature of it is starting to come across as propaganda, Kevorkian back from the dead.

    There is life in every moment, and the possibility of grace in every breath.

    Not to receive grace, but to pass it on.

    No way I will kill that, and no way will I EVER support what Ms. Maynard is doing.

    I was going to say, thanks for the chance to rant…but this isn’t a rant. This comes from my heart.

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