Supreme Sacrifice

I met Lori on her second day of her cancer treatment. I opened the door to her hospital room and stepped into the light streaming in from her window. She looked up from her chair and smiled.
I smiled back. “Hi, Lori. I’m Stanzy. I came to see if you would like some music today?”
“Oh sure! That would be great! I love music.”
As I wheeled my keyboard into the small room she remarked, “Hey! I play piano too!”
“Oh, please don’t judge my rudimentary piano playing. I’m more of a singer than a piano player.”
“I’m sure it will be lovely.”
“What would you like me sing for you?”
Her gazed drifted out the window and she said, “You know…I would love a good hymn. Do you have Amazing Grace?”
“Absolutely.” I turned my notebook to the right page and began to sing the timeless words.


Amazing grace, How sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me.
I once was lost, but now I am found,
Was blind, but now I see.

Through many dangers, toils and snares
I have already come,
‘Tis grace has brought me safe thus far
And grace will lead me home.

Yea, when this flesh and heart shall fail,
And mortal life shall cease
I shall possess within the veil,
A life of joy and peace.

“That was beautiful. Thank you. It’s so good to have music in the hospital. How did you get into it?”
“Well, I’m a cancer survivor too. I was looking for a way to volunteer to help others still on treatment and this fell into my lap.”
“Oh you’re a survivor too? That’s wonderful. You know. I think you would appreciate this story.” She looked intently into my eyes with an almost giddy expression. “I’m only here because of Amazing Grace.”
“How so?”
“My mom died several years ago of the same cancer I have. I walked through it with her and watched her struggle to survive. It seemed so senseless at the time. She was too young to die. I was angry that I was going to lose good years with my mom. But my mom trusted God and she kept insisting it all had a purpose. She was on a medical trial for a new drug to treat her cancer. The research did not come through in time to save her but, that same drug that they tested on my mom is now saving my life. This woman suffered and gave birth to me twice. She lost her life but saved mine.”
“That’s incredible. What an unexpected gift from your mom. We never know the mark our lives leave. Thank you for sharing your story.”


I recently showed the recording of my new song, Just Hold On, (inspired by the community of cancer travelers) to a couple of my coworkers. Afterward, one of them revealed that her brother, Gary, died of Leukemia when he was in his 20s.

“He died in ‘82. He fought for a long time but they did not have the amazing treatments they have now. It’s amazing how many lives are touched by cancer these days.”
“I didn’t know your brother had leukemia. I had leukemia too.”
“Really? I didn’t know that. It’s incredible that you survived.”
“Yes, but it is only because of people like your brother that I stand here today. The research from his treatment helped pave the way to the lifesaving drugs that cured me 16 years ago.”
We embraced and I cried as I thanked her for the gift her brother unknowingly gave to me. I cannot take credit for the success of my treatment. The sacrifice of the researchers, doctors, and patients who paid the ultimate price is what allows me to live a little longer on this earth.
Today, March 18th, is National Supreme Sacrifice Day to “honor those that have made huge sacrifices for the sake and the good of others[note]National Day Calendar[/note].” The path to life for cancer patients is paved with the lives of people like Lori’s mother and my coworker’s brother, Gary. Without their supreme sacrifice and that of  countless others, we would not have the 14.5 million survivors that we have in the US alone.[note][/note]
If we live in a purely material world of the survival of the fittest, then why do we revere sacrifice?  Embedded deep in the fabric of reality is a truth that resonates with our souls: There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.[note]John 15:13[/note]

Death is not the ultimate reality. Love is.

2000 years ago, God demonstrated that His love conquers death. Jesus willingly gave his life for his beloved children. He suffered one of the most shameful and brutal forms of execution known to man. He went into the grave but, He did not stay there. He defeated death and rose back to life. He paved the way for us to have abundant life today and in the hereafter.
As God weaves the tapestry of history, He inserts threads of Amazing Grace in the form of his children. We are often unaware of the effect our lives have on history. We want to know why things happen the way they do. Why do some survive and others do not? Why did I benefit from a treatment that I did nothing to earn?  Death and illness rob, steal and destroy. Death is an abomination. We cry out for a response–for justice. We rail because, without the perspective of eternity, we cannot see all the answers to our “why questions.”  But, maybe, just maybe the “why” isn’t as important as the “whom.”

 Then, when our dying bodies have been transformed into bodies that will never die, this Scripture will be fulfilled:
“Death is swallowed up in victory.
O death, where is your victory?
O death, where is your sting?”
For sin is the sting that results in death, and the law gives sin its power. But thank God! He gives us victory over sin and death through our Lord Jesus Christ.
So, my dear brothers and sisters, be strong and immovable. Always work enthusiastically for the Lord, for you know that nothing you do for the Lord is ever useless.

1 Corinthians 15:54-58

The power and love of God transforms death into life.

Death is not the ultimate reality. Love is.
Death is not the ultimate reality. Love is.
Death is not the ultimate reality. Love is.


Comment below to commemorate someone in your life that made a supreme sacrifice. Think of a way you can show sacrificial love to someone.

Share this and other stories of hope to take back power from fear and death with #SupremeSacrificeDay.
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May the Lord bless you
and keep you;
May the Lord make his face shine on you
and be gracious to you;
May the Lord turn his face toward you
and give you peace.[note]Numbers 6:24-26[/note]


Photo Credit: Craig Manderson

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