My wife Julia impresses me more every day. For over two years now she has valiantly and gracefully endured stage four breast cancer. When I look at Julia I am reminded of the words Abraham Lincoln said of Ulysses S. Grant in a rising tide of criticism against him: “I can’t spare this man; he fights.”
With an inspiring yet quiet calm, Julia fights. Through various biopsies and bone drips, scans and surgeries, chemotherapy and blood work, she fights. And on days like today when we learn that tumor markers are on the rise again, she fights.
But the fight is not primarily against cancer. No. The fight, as the Apostle Paul knew, is a fight of faith. Here’s how Paul, in the twilight of his earthly life, said it to his young apprentice Timothy:
Julia is fighting the good fight of faith; she is striving to take hold of the eternal life to which she was called. In other words, Julia is fighting to believe the promises of God in Christ for her. Precious promises like the following:
- “I will never leave you nor forsake you” (Heb. 13:5).
- “Truly, truly, I say to you, if anyone keeps my word, he will never see death” (John 8:51).
- “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Cor. 12:9).
- “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light” (Matt. 11:28-30).
These, among so many others, are the promises we strive to hold on to when the world, the flesh, and the devil rage against us — and, O, how they rage. The world bombards us with the idea that cancer is not consistent with an all-powerful and all-loving God (i.e., the God of the Bible). The flesh cuts us with feelings of despondency and hopelessness. The devil rips us with doubts about our standing before God and the surety of His promises. Combined, this is an army no man or woman can withstand.
This is Julia’s battle-cry. This is the phrase we keep coming back to time and time again.
For Julia, God is the One who is fighting for her against the constant attacks of the world, the flesh, and the devil. He is her refuge, fortress and strong tower. He is the strength of her heart and her portion forever. Yes, God. He is the One who is — and will — keep Julia from falling.
Even now I marvel through tears at the way she looks to Him; clings to Him; abides in Him; trusts in Him. And I think this is perhaps the main reason God gave me Julia: so I would look at her and see Christ.