I’m slipping in here for a brief intermission in my 31 Days series to share this story with you. This blog post is part of Michelle DeRusha’s #MyFaithHeroine contest, in connection with the release of the book, 50 Women Every Christian Should Know. Find out how to participate here.
If you want to see the measure of a person’s faith, watch them on the battlefield of a trial.
For it is on the battleground of suffering and trials where the sheep are separated from the goats, where it becomes clear who is fighting for Team Self and who is fighting for Team Jesus.
Only those with Christ in them will be able to agree and say “Amen” to a statement such as this: “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance” (James 1:2-3).
My mom was one of those people.
One of those people who knew she was dying of cancer, and fought the good fight in such a way that even her gravestone reads, “Rejoice in the Lord always.”
Even in trials. Even in incredible suffering. Even in death.
For those who follow this blog, it should come as no surprise to you that if I were asked to name my faith heroine, I would name my mom in a heartbeat — and not only because of her nine-year battle with cancer. She endured many trials in her lifetime, including becoming a single mom when her two daughters were just seven and six years old.
But it was the cancer that made her light shine the brightest.
Just eight months before she died, my mom was asked to give a testimony in front of her church.
She didn’t want to do it.
She hated being the center of attention, hated standing in front of a crowd. But she knew she had to. She knew she had to give testimony to the Lord’s work in her life. So she shuffled up to the front of the sanctuary, wig on her head, portable oxygen tank in tow. Compression sleeve on her arm for the lymphedema, hands and feet completely numb with neuropathy — one of many side effects of the chemo.
And she told the church, “God has already healed me in so many ways.”
She wasn’t talking about physical healing.
She knew the power of forgiveness, of grace. Of salvation.
The dictionary defines a heroine as “a woman admired or idealized for her courage, outstanding achievements, or noble qualities.”
Some may look at the rectangle of grass in the cemetery or the grey headstone with my mom’s name on it and see that as a failure. As a defeat. As a lack of “outstanding achievements.”
But her victory in the battle was not of this world.
Some might agree without a doubt that she put up one heck of a fight with four straight years of nonstop chemo — but in the end, they would say that the cancer won.
I beg to differ.
The cancer didn’t win. My mom did. And my mom won because Jesus won, and Christ was in her, the hope of glory.
You see, “faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1).
Things hoped for. Things not seen.
“But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain” (1 Corinthians 15:57-58).
Your faith, friend, is “of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire.” And the trials, they come to prove what your faith is made of — not for your own glory, but so that your faith “may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed” (1 Peter 1:7).
When you find yourself in the middle of the battlefield, whose armor are you wearing? Which crown will you receive?
For “blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him” (James 1:12).
Fight in such a way that others will write about you one day and call you a hero of the faith.
Fight to win the crown of life.
“Not to us, O Lord, not to us, but to Your name be the glory” (Psalm 115:1).