You never know what you will find on the net. I've just spent an hour probably, looking at pictures posted by a girl I've never met, had no clue she even existed. Her name is Jessica Joy Rees and she just graduated to Heaven two days ago at the age of 12. The info. at her website and the pictures on her Facebook page pretty much tell it all, although I think maybe I learned more from her FB photos than the webpage. (http://www.jessicajoyrees.com/). And I think it's because under each FB picture, Jessie posted comments that spoke volumes about her family, her faith, her mission, and her joy in life. Usually she just wrote a sentence or two, sometimes just a phrase but each entry gave a day by day snapshot of who she really was (and is).
Perhaps the thing that amazed me most were the pics she posted of other children with cancer. Underneath each pic, she had words of encouragement and/or a request for prayer for each child. Clearly, she struggled with her own cancer at times and went through things most of us hope we never ever have to endure. But her motto was Never Ever Give Up (NEGU) and she not only lived that motto but, even as ill as she was, spent her time encouraging other children to live the same way.
Romans 8 says: For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what he already has?
Jessie had hope that she would be totally healed and that hope is now realized in ways she could not have imagined.
Her parents had hopes that she would be restored to health here on earth. Their hopes were not realized and now they have a hard road ahead of them to walk as do her siblings.
As I read about her (and thought about other children/young people who have also gone to Heaven way before their time due to this illness), this is what I felt:
1. If we are blessed with life, we need to use it. The quality of Jessie's life as she fought an inoperable brain tumor was diminished but she appreciated the life she had, however limited, and used what little energy she had to pour life into others. If she could do that, surely I can get up off my arthritic knees and do something as well. Bottom line: it's not the quality of life that we have, it's life itself that is the gift. And it's not how much energy we have, it's how much motivation we have that drives us.
2. Her father is a pastor and I'm guessing he's a good one. Certainly the entire family pulled together in love and faith, rallied behind Jessie and reached out to thousands of kids right along with her. I'm sure they prayed in faith for her healing and did everything right. But God chose to heal her in Heaven. Sometimes His ways are past finding out here on earth and to think that faith always protects us from hard times is a lie that does much damage. When my mom had cancer, someone sent her a quote from a missionary's talk. The quote said, "We know that God delivers us from trouble .. but not always. We know that God delivers us out of trouble... but not always. We know that God sustains us in trouble... always." Jesus Himself said in John 16:33 “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” Or as Beth Moore put it: God may deliver you from the fire, or He may deliver you out of the fire, or He may deliver you by the fire to His place in Heaven. He always delivers but not always in the way we want and if He delivers one child of cancer here on earth and not another, it has nothing to do with the children, their parents, or their faith - it has everything to do with His sovereign plan which we simply aren't able to grasp at this time - never having seen the other side of the curtain.
3. One thing I need to do - and I hope others will do also - is to commit to pray regularly, faithfully (daily, I hope) that childhood cancer will be eradicated. When it's gone, when there is a reliable cure, there will be one less evil in our sin-cursed environment. I hope others will join me in this. I know there's a ton of things to pray for every day but my plan is to put this plea on my daily list.
4. Another thing I need to do is to support kids here in my area who have cancer. And, if I can figure out how to do it, I think the best option right now would be to purchase a Joy Jar so that a child here would be able to get the gift of joy that Jessie herself would give if she were here to do it. And then pray that all the cancer kids in this area get their own jars in the near future. What a neat thing that would be to have happen - if it hasn't happened already. Honestly, that would be something to blog about!
Amazing how a random headline on Yahoo can change my thoughts entirely. And this time, for the good!
Now how else can I end this blog but with the motto of her own heart?