And It Was Beautiful!
“Suffering is not the absence of goodness, it is not the absence of beauty, but perhaps it can be the place where true beauty can be known…” ~~ Kara Tippetts in Dear Brittany
Today I’m thinking about my courageous warrior friend, the late Kara Tippetts, author of The Hardest Peace.
I met her the first time in an unconventional way through another “friend” of sorts, whom–unlike Kara–I’ve never personally met. Ann Voskamp had posted Kara’s letter to Brittany Maynard on her blog site, A Holy Experience–a letter Kara had written to Brittany, having heard of her plan to end her life, made public by CNN in 2014.
Having received a notification via email to Ann’s most recent post–having never yet heard of Kara or her blog site Mundane Faithfulness–I read it and wept. I then researched further to see if I could learn more about both Brittany and Kara–two women battling. Two women dying–both fighting for freedoms of a different kind.
Brittany fought for (and many would say won) the right to die with dignity–choosing when to end her battle with a rare form of brain cancer. She was a newlywed, not yet thirty.
Kara also fought–her battle with breast cancer causing her to fight for her family, fight for her life, fight for more time that she might more broadly share the earnest cry of her heart, the echo of One who dwelled within her. Yes, the risen Christ whom she believed offered her freedom, no matter the outcome.
Because she knew to battle with Jesus was beautiful!
Hence, Kara’s letter to Brittany. After all, it was with kind and loving–though bold–words that Kara believed she could fight best on behalf of a woman she’d never met by sharing what she firmly believed. Thus, Kara pleaded–
…will you hear from my heart that Jesus loves you. He loves you. He loves you. He died an awful death upon a cross so that you would know Him today that we would no longer live separate from Him and in our death. He died and His death happened, it is not simply a story.
He died and He overcame death three days later, and in that overcoming of death He overcame the death you and I are facing in our cancer. He longs to know you, to shepherd you in your dying, and to give you life and give you life abundant- eternal life (see www.mundanefaithfulness.com — search Letter to Brittany).
And although it may seem that Kara Tippetts lost her battles–both with cancer, as well as her fight to change Brittany’s heart and convince her not to end her own life–she didn’t.
First, disease is merely the result of a sin-sick, imperfect world. In truth, Kara didn’t lose to cancer. No–cancer did not win; rather, it was put to death by a living warrior who now stands in freedom before her Abba Father, next to Jesus who battled first that she might truly live. Kara may no longer be here, but her echo can loudly be heard–
To live is Christ, to die is gain (Phil. 1:21)!
As for the gentle weapon of her words–we can’t know what a difference they may have made in Brittany Maynard’s remaining days, her death. Although she ultimately took her life on November 1, 2014 by ingesting a medication that stopped her heart, we don’t know what happened as her last breath slipped away. With Jesus before her, having heard Kara’s words, perhaps Brittany cried out, “Yes, Jesus!”–calling on the name of the Lord and was, thus, saved (Romans 10:13).
When Kara, too, passed from this life on March 22, 2015, she was surrounded by her family and close friends. Her funeral, which was televised, was a worship service at its finest–pointing everyone present to the risen Jesus whom Kara loved and for whom she lived. Yes–the One who took her hand as she breathed her last, whose presence filled her lungs with the sweet fragrance of heaven. I’m certain He said to her–
Well done, good and faithful comrade.
That’s what Kara desired, too, for Brittany, though not just in dying; rather, in the beauty of living out suffering–that, as fellow soldiers in their battle with cancer, Brittany might enjoy friendship with Jesus, to experience the power of Christ by knowing peace that passes all understanding, even in the midst of pain.
As Kara wrote–
…perhaps [suffering is] the place where true beauty can be known.
In her letter to Brittany, Kara was simply encouraging a fellow soldier to walk in the beauty of brokenness–a beauty that Kara knew well. A beauty in which she walked, being the wounded warrior she was, because Kara walked the way of her Savior. After all, Jesus was wounded for our transgressions and bruised for our iniquities (Is. 53:5). He was broken to bind us up and restore wholeness–yes, to make us holy.
Jesus–the ultimate veteran–valiantly faced death, even death on a criminal’s cross to purchase for us freedom. He conquered sin, sickness, and death–securing for us new LIFE. Today, I’m remembering many who’ve fought in this life to give us freedom, and a song by Twila Paris comes to mind–its title a question many might ask.
What Did He Die For?
But like Kara Tippetts, let’s proclaim, I live for _______(JESUS)_______ and conclude…
And it [is] beautiful!
Because living for–even dying with–Jesus is always–yes, eternally–beautiful!
On this Veteran’s Day–
For those who’ve beautifully battled cancer or other illnesses–pointing others to Jesus, even in the midst of pain…
For those who courageously weld the weapon of their stories to help restore others’ lives and offer hope…
For those who’ve literally fought for our freedom…
And for those who continue to fight…
My heart is grateful and I’m inspired–
To live more boldly…
To share more loudly…
To love more lavishly.
Jesus, help us to live out loud–proclaiming the promise, with words when necessary but always with our lives–“To live is Christ, to die is gain.” Thank you, Jesus, for fighting for us that we can walk in freedom. And thank you for those who’ve fought–are fighting–to maintain our liberty. Help us to remember that freedom’s not free–to remember what it is You, she, and he died for. Because of You, Sweet Savior, life IS beautiful, and death will be too.
Finally, like Kara Tippetts, help us use our words as gentle weapons in a world of warfare greatly in need of Your love.