The better thing: This is for something greater than ourselves

Joanne Kwok // October 30, 2020, 5:06 pm


It’s been seven days. Seven days of being run to the edge of the cliff and forced to stare down the very real face of death, unable to turn and go back to life as we knew it.

For reasons I am only just beginning to see, Seets and I have been joined at the heart ever since we sat together in her bedroom eating fried chicken just a matter of days after she received her cancer diagnosis in August 2019. 

That night, with her wig sitting casually beside us, we ended up talking about boys and praying briefly together before I headed home at midnight. Not a tear was shed, but many laughs were had despite talking about the harsh difficulties we had each faced in the recent years, if not months.

We only knew each other through a project we had done in 2017, but in Seets’ words, we were now sisters in the fire.

We don’t have breath in our lungs just to enjoy the beauty that can be found here for us. We are alive for something.

It is because of these many, many shared sorrows and honest confessions of pain and hope since that day that I am confident of writing this on her behalf. If Seets could write this herself, she would.

But after things dipped to a new low on Wednesday following her first round of chemotherapy, I could feel the words expanding within me – pounding in the walls of my heart, trying to get out.

So I write this for her, for me and for you.

Jesus replied, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified.

“Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds.

“Anyone who loves their life will lose it, while anyone who hates their life in this world will keep it for eternal life.” (John 12:23-25)

We do not count our lives too precious unto death.

I am not afraid of Seets dying.

I would very much want her to live because I would lose the person I talk to every day and who probably loves me more than I love myself.

But as I sit with God and enquire of His heart, I understand that her life – my life, your life – is part of a much bigger story that He is unfolding on the earth.

We don’t have breath in our lungs just to enjoy the beauty that can be found here for us. We are alive for something.

Seets knows this as much as I do. And as we snuggled in her hospital bed seven days ago, we held that truth together once more – this, all this, is for something greater than ourselves.

If this is what it will take, then we lay down our lives for it. We do not count our lives too precious unto death.

What if I die young?

No matter how this story will end – in life restored or life eternal – a larger purpose will be fulfilled.

The Son of Man will be glorified, as our hearts have yearned for in prayer.

We did not know what it would take, as none of us really do until it shows itself, but if this is the path we have been led, we will walk it with tears in our eyes and great hope in our hearts.

Many seeds will spring forth and arise from this beautiful surrender.

I have often said, following my terrifying brush with Bell’s Palsy just three weeks after Seets’ cancer report, that what we see as a curse can become a gift.

In the hands of the Good Father it is always a gift.

And beyond a miraculous healing we want that gift – what He can give and is giving an entire generation through one person who trusts Him completely.

“Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honour the one who serves me.

“Now my soul is troubled, and what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? No, it was for this very reason I came to this hour. Father, glorify your name!

“Then a voice came from heaven, “I have glorified it, and will glorify it again…

“Jesus said, “This voice was for your benefit, not mine.” (John 12:26-28, 30)

An hour before we held a prayer service on Sunday night for the women who are keeping vigil for Seets, I found myself led to meditate on the Garden of Gethsemane.

I had been telling the Lord that I really, really, really wanted Seets to be well again, but something else arose inside that was as true as that first desire was. I paused to feel it and a sob came with what I had to admit.

“I do want Seets to be okay, but do what You need to do, Lord.”

I immediately thought of those words from Jesus to Judas at the Last Supper, only the two of them knowing what was going to happen.

But if You gladly chose surrender, so will I. So will we.

 No matter how this story will end – in life restored or life eternal – a larger purpose will be fulfilled.

Do what You need to do. It was there in the Garden of Gethsemane, which means “oil press” after the olive trees that are grown there to be crushed into oil, where our Lord prayed in great anguish at the cup set before Him, where He too was pressed and crushed as frail humanity.

Again, He said those words, this time to the Father: “Thy will be done.”

Do what You need to do. Then He was bound by His enemies and taken to His death.

But it was through Jesus’ obedience in the Garden of Gethsemane that humanity would find our way back to the Garden of Eden. God with man once again.

And I know deep in my spirit that Seets’ obedience carries a similar power beyond our finite calculations. The Father will honour the one who serves and follows Him, wherever He may lead.

I trust Him. Seets trusts Him.

We’re going back to Eden.


Dear Father, even in sorrow and suffering we are thankful that You are so close to us. You understand what my sister is going through more than any of us, because You are the man of sorrows; You have walked this path before us.

Lord, we don’t know why it has to be this way, but I know You can do anything. You can heal Seets completely, and I declare in faith that tumours and cancer, you have no place in her body. Jesus, restore her to fullness of health. Have mercy on her and preserve her life.

But Father, I also know that Your ways are higher than my ways. You are still in control. Be near to Seets and grant her comfort in her pain, for You are the great Comforter. We give thanks for anything that brings us more of You.

I don’t know which way the story will turn, but I trust You to redeem beauty from the ashes, joy from the mourning, and praising from despair. I hope in Your goodness, Your power and Your wisdom.

Do what You have to do. Your nearness is our good. We leave Seets in Your loving hands.

In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.

This was originally posted on Joanne’s Instagram page yesterday and has been republished with permission. 

PAUSE + PRAY stands in prayer with Seets, and we welcome you to join in lifting up a midday prayer for #ABetterTing.

Every day at noon, pray for mercy, comfort, peace and rest. For God’s nearness, revelation and joy. For our hearts to be still and know He is God in our heartache.

Besides praying for Seets’ comfort, peace, healing and rest, consider praying for these over yourself too:

  1. To be still and know that God is good, near and in control.
  2. To “come up higher”, that you may see as God sees from His perspective.