Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.
Early Thursday morning, Ian’s dear friend Ben Morrell went to be with his Lord and Savior. He was 31 years old and had battled cancer for the previous six years.
I’m not the person to eulogize Ben; he was more Ian’s friend, and many people knew him better than I did. But as the days have gone by and I’ve started to internalize the reality of Ben’s passing, I’ve started thinking about what I’ll take away from Ben’s life. In pondering this, I’ve begun appreciating how courageous Ben was.
Ben exhibited the courage to live, even when the medical establishment told him his life was ending. I’m sure he felt fear, sorrow, anxiety, doubt… But through the years of his battle with cancer, Ben never stopped persevering, trusting God, and loving people. The crucible of cancer refined Ben’s character, revealing its purity. He did what he could, when he could. He lived the life God gave him to its fullest, and although he wasn’t an overseas missionary, his example has touched innumerable lives.
I didn’t always agree with his choices, but I respected how he chose to live life out. Ben’s courage at facing chemo time and again, knowing all too well the physical suffering that entailed; his decision to invest in people, even without the promise of a long-term relationships and at the risk of emotional pain; his time spent with Lisa, going to Lake Crescent mere days before he died — these were courageous choices. He lived with the knowledge that not only that he would die (we all do), but how and, increasingly, when, and yet his faith only deepened as days went by. He faced pain and physical failure with courage and faith, publicly living out his convictions in a way that shouted more loudly than words.
Many people were praying for Ben’s healing by the end, so it would be easy to say that God didn’t listen to our prayers, and that cancer won that battle: After all, Ben isn’t with us any longer. But the reality is that, at long last, God has healed Ben wholly, completely, and eternally. Cancer did not win in Ben’s life. God did.
Ben’s cancer fighting sword, left to Benji. One day he will understand.