If there was anyone who ever lived out this Biblical Truth, it was Kara Tippetts:
Luke 9: (23 – 27) (MSG)
Then he told them what they could expect for themselves: “Anyone who intends to come with me has to let me lead. You’re not in the driver’s seat—I am. Don’t run from suffering; embrace it. Follow me and I’ll show you how.
In her final book, And It Was Beautiful: Celebrating Life in the Midst of the Long Goodbye, Kara shows us that as we turn toward this truth of suffering, Christ’s Love pours out more freely both into and then out of us. For in drawing near to the truth, we draw near to Him: our Way, our Truth and our beautiful Life.
Kara’s words, compiled from the years she spent battling cancer as a wife and mother to four young children, follow her journey of faith in and through suffering. Like many, who have known deep loss and the horrors of cancer from nearby, I was apprehensive about opening the pages of this book. However, I am so glad I did. For precisely in the awful pain and deep heartache, Christ’s Light shines even more brightly. His Nearness, His Peace, His Comfort and His eternal Hope embrace Kara’s words etched in pain.
One of the most beautiful passages in Kara’s book describes the pursuant Love of Christ, how He chooses to (pp.105 – 106):
always move toward. The best picture I have of this is that of Jesus continually moving toward me, always gently pursuing, always desiring nearness. Even when I turn away, act out, or move toward my own ends, He stays forever focused on moving toward me, not away.
Christ’s pursuant nearness is palpable throughout the book, as each new truth of an ever encroaching cancer draws Kara closer and closer to God’s Love. In choosing to face the truth, we also see her assurance of God’s Presence growing (p.21):
Cancer wants to be a thief and steal my moments, but there is always grace. There is always room for Jesus and love.
And in choosing to increasingly rest in this assurance, we see that:
Psalm 145: 18 (AMP)
The Lord is [indeed] near to all who call upon Him, to all who call upon Him sincerely and in truth.
From page to page, Kara pays witness to the many men and women of faith, who draw near to her and her family, as she chooses to turn to the awful truth of her circumstances, trusting in God’s goodness. We see a community of believers, who lovingly care for, cook for, clean for, sit with, cry with, listen to and encourage both Kara and her family through the ravages of cancer. Kara, her husband and her children are embraced in their Heavenly Father’s Love.
And It Was Beautiful also encourages those who are suffering to take hold of the peace that is held out to them. Kara repeatedly shares of anxious, fearful and even despairing moments in her journey, but illustrates how God brought beautiful peace to her and her family, as they chose to face the truth and seek the Face of Jesus (p.66):
But once we faced it honestly, something happened. Peace ran through the nooks of avoidance. The stress lessened and the grace to face the new hard entered the crevices of unbelief. We are kept, closely kept near to Jesus in the midst of our story.
The comfort only God can bring also shines through Kara’s story. The most beautiful instances are found in the moments Kara chooses to allow and even encourage her children to face the truth of the cancer that is crippling her and stealing their mother from them. When her daughter, Harper, asks her if she is dying, she does not shy away from the truth, but allows her daughter to face it, weep through it and be embraced by her comforting arms and the Truth of God’s eternal life awaiting her. When her son, Lake, is overcome by anger at what is being stolen from him, she moves toward him, soothingly embraces him, and both acknowledges his terrible loss and reminds him of God’s Presence. With her eldest, Eleanor, she allows a friend to encourage her to let her daughter face the truth with her at her side. She does this despite the searing pain she knows it will bring her because it affords both her and her daughter the opportunity to lean into God’s warm embrace together, precisely in their searing pain.
Finally, Kara’s book turns us all to the Hope of Salvation (p.46):
It was God in his good and perfect providence to number my days, to count the hairs on my head, to not only plan but join me in my suffering. Jesus is my song. Jesus is my guide. Jesus is my hope.
As humans walking this suffering-infested earth, not one of us is immune to heartache, grief and pain. If you long to be embraced by Nearness, Peace, Comfort and eternal Hope in your own suffering, then I’d encourage you to purchase a copy of this beautiful book. Read it and step into the assurance that (Isaiah 30: 18, AMP):
Therefore the Lord waits [expectantly] and longs to be gracious to you, And therefore He waits on high to have compassion on you. For the Lord is a God of justice; Blessed (happy, fortunate) are all those who long for Him [since He will never fail them].
Disclaimer: I received a free copy of Kara Tippetts’ And It Was Beautiful: Celebrating Life in the Midst of the Long Goodbye, having been selected to participate in the #LitfuseReads Blog Tour. However, the thoughts and opinions expressed here are my own and have not been affected by this fact.