Some day you will read in the papers that D.L. Moody of East Northfield, is dead. Don’t you believe a word of it! At that moment I shall be more alive than I am now; I shall have gone up higher, that is all, out of this old clay tenement into a house that is immortal- a body that death cannot touch, that sin cannot taint; a body fashioned like unto His glorious body.
This morning we said goodbye to my wife’s dear friend and cousin Justine. A year-long battle with cancer was finally ended at 4:20 this morning. While shock is often the first thing that sets in when you receive tragic news, this time Kate and I smiled at one another with sorrowful joy.
I met Justine shortly after Kate and I started dating in college, and I was immediately struck by her snarky intellect, her daydreamy insights, and her ability to drive conversations to deeper levels with nearly anyone she came into contact with. She was a free-spirit who wanted to turn over every rock she found, looking to uncover the mystery of God in all of life.
Right after Kate and I’s wedding, Justine called and asked if she could interview us about our relationship for a college assignment. We had a blast sharing with her our journey, and a not long after we had the opportunity to watch her step forward in faith in her own adventure and marry her best friend Kevin.
It was not long after they left the altar that we received “the call”. Justine was having trouble eating, and in the tests the worst was confirmed. The doctors had found a tumor, but her young age would make her a great candidate for surgery. That Christmas she went under the knife and we gathered around her in prayer. A successful surgery led to a quick recovery – and the realization that the very thing that had helped her heal had given her one final strike. The cancer was back, and this time hopeful surgery was not an option.
In perfect character, Justine faced cancer like the irony that it was – a disease that was drawing her family and faith closer together while ripping her insides apart. She had an enduring understanding of the Father’s goodness, and saw her circumstances not as a curse, but rather as a reason to give God glory in the smallest aspects of each day.
When the medication took it’s toll, she joked about the mysterious visions she would have. When the hospital stays got long, she would tell insightful stories about those she came into contact with. When infections of various kinds set in, she would pop up on Facebook, vowing to escape the hospital bed and that “One way or another, I’m taking a trip with my husband before I die!”
Her infectious joy spread throughout her community of friends and family, many of which did not know the God who gave her such unending hope. In the words of Paul, her life was “being poured out like a drink offering” in the hopes that it would be a pleasing aroma to God.
We had a chance to have Justine and her family in our home a few months ago, right as the worst part of her cancer began to take it’s toll. While she was not mentally with us for much of the weekend, there were various moments when we saw the true Justine in her laugh, her jokes, and in her eyes when she would look at us. Though the body was weak, her spirit was strong.
Justine leaves behind a legacy of individuals who were incredibly blessed by her love and the joy she had in Christ. Her ability to find true joy in the hardest moments led others to see that there was a hope on the other side of eternity.
Justine is now there, with her Christ, who has wiped the final tear from her eye. She is with Jesus, who is seated on the throne, and has shown her that He is the One who overcame death and the grave. One day we will be resurrected with her, to bask in that glory forever.
So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen.
2 Corinthians 4:16-18