Two years ago, this Saturday, Zora Kightley won her battle with cancer.
It had been a long, protracted battle, one demanding patience, resilience, and faith. She, and her faithful husband Jim, withstood the devastating blows of bad news from oncologists. She fought the good fight as she faced round after round of radiation and chemotherapy, as she endured numerous surgeries. Zora faced down the fear of dying, looking death in the eye. And she won.
I say that even though, two years ago this Saturday, Zora died.
Linda and I became first became friends with Zora and Jim because of cancer. Hers and mine. When I (Rick) was diagnosed with cancer in 2011, I started to receive cards of encouragement from Zora. We had not yet met the Kightleys, so Zora’s cards were our introduction. Written in a beautiful, flowing cursive script, her cards were always incredibly thoughtful, filled with words to sustain us when we were weary and frightened.
Her cards brought us God’s peace. That’s because Zora knew the God of peace (Hebrews 13:20) and had learned to live in His peace. She did that by drawing near to Christ through God’s Word.
When she was first diagnosed with cancer, discouragement and fear flattened her. Even though feeling numb and defeated, she turned to God through His Word. Here’s how she explained it:
“I finally opened my Bible and read the book of Acts and then the Gospels. The words were alive on the page and had fresh meaning. I felt the need to read “the whole story” so I have been following a plan to read the Bible in a year. As I’ve read, I’ve learned about God’s plan for us and I’ve felt the urge to expand my reading and understanding of the Bible and God’s word. Through His word, I’ve felt a peace and calmness in my soul and my hope in my eternal life has blossomed.”
The two-year anniversary of Zora’s homegoing comes in the midst of the Coronavirus pandemic. Fear is now spreading faster than the virus. Sickness and death cast a dark shadow over the future.
At this moment, Zora’s example speaks powerfully. She reminds us it’s possible to face down fear—even the fear of death. It’s possible to find peace, even in the midst of deadly sickness. Like Zora, we can turn to God’s Word and find peace, calmness and eternal hope that death cannot destroy.
Zora’s life testifies that faith in the Lord Jesus gives victory in the fight with sickness and death. Because Jesus defeated death, all who are in Christ will too. “O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” (1 Cor. 15:55). Death may knock us down, but it can’t keep us down. Like Zora, all who have put their trust in Christ for forgiveness will eternally triumph over death in resurrected bodies. “But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Cor. 15:56).