The following excerpt is from Kara Tippetts’ final book, And It Was Beautiful, a collection of reflections on living and dying well. She invites us to cultivate soft hearts even when we face great disappointment and her ideas for living are hard-won, wrestled with in the crucible of family, illness, and faith. Unfortunately, Kara lost her battle with cancer in March of 2015, but her thoughts on celebrating life despite her terminal diagnosis were truly inspiring.
I will bless the LORD at all times; his praise shall continually be in my mouth. – Psalm 34:1
What does it mean to bless the Lord at all times? What does a life of constant praise look like? How do I turn toward Jesus in my desperation and not simply turn away in fear and anguish? How do I trust when the story continues to crumble my hopes and dreams? I often feel like the boy’s father in Mark 9[:24]: “I believe; help my unbelief!”
The test results came in from my PET scan. The cancer has found new borders to invade, new places to overtake. I am struggling with nerve pain. Nights have been the hardest.
Because of the recent pain we were not surprised by the results, not caught off guard. But that kind of news still breaks us further.
I have been offered a new plan, new pills, a new angle of attack to slow this beast. I will dutifully take my pills and attempt to manage the painful side effects. I hope it will slow this cancer. I hope it will even destroy it. I still have those kinds of hopes. But I feel like I’m fading, you know like in Star Trek when someone is being beamed away? That’s how I feel, like I’m becoming a different arrangement of myself.
So how do I bless the Lord when I’m being beamed away? One breath at a time. That’s one of the lessons cancer has taught me, that today is all I have, and I must keep my eyes focused on what’s in front of me, and do the next thing in love. I have faces to kiss and bags to pack and prayers to pray and love to share right now, right here, today. And so I say “Thank You” for these things while also swallowing the new pills that hopefully can keep more cancer armies from crossing my borders. Blessing the Lord is not clean; it’s not just when things are easy and good and healthy. It’s thanking Him at ALL times and in ALL circumstances, not for the painful things but for His presence. Jason says that’s what peace is, and I believe him.
I’ve seen a blessing-the-Lord-at-all-times that comes via a painted-on smile. It’s fake and I believe people can smell that a mile away. The real blessing-the-Lord comes via wearied brows above exhausted eyes and tearstained cheeks. But beneath it all His praise is still in our mouths.
© 2016 Kara Tippetts. And It Was Beautiful is published by David C Cook. All rights reserved.
Kara Tippetts’ life was dramatically changed in 2012 when she was first diagnosed with breast cancer. She shared her journey on her popular blog, www.mundanefaithfulness.com. She was the author of The Hardest Peace and the co-author of Just Show Up. Since her death in March 2015, her husband, Jason, is parenting their four children and leading the church they founded in Colorado Springs, CO.