Some months ago while visiting Keith and Caryn in San Antonio, Texas, they invited me to accompany them on a visit to their friend Phoebe. Phoebe, just 22 years old, had been diagnosed with leukemia and was undergoing treatment.

During our dinner together, Phoebe told me that she had just found out two days earlier that the cancer was found to no longer be in remission and that it was very aggressive. She probably had no more than four months to live.

As we talked, I saw that though her “knees were shaking,” her faith was solid. What was her faith in? That she was going to sail right through this ordeal, confident and unperturbed? That there wasn’t going to be any problem, pain, or difficulty? I knew that her faith was not built on those things. Her faith was built on trust that God loved her and that He was in control, and on the assurance that He was going to see her safely through, either by healing her in this life, or carrying her right through heaven’s door where she would be totally healed forever.

That faith had come, not in one flash of enlightenment, one great springing up like an unexpected geyser, but because throughout her life Phoebe had experienced that Jesus walked beside her and always took good care of her. She had learned how to make hard decisions and choices in consultation with Him.

Phoebe was remarkably open and straightforward in speaking of her probable soon-coming trip to heaven. She articulated her feelings very well—amazingly so, I thought, for someone who was speaking of something that for most people is one of the most devastating things they can imagine and one that they have extreme difficulty facing. It was a moving experience for me to think that I was conversing with someone who might soon be in the arms of Jesus enjoying His presence. I felt like telling her, “Please tell Him you saw me! Please give Him my love!”—Just as you would do if someone were going on a trip to see folks that you love.
Just as everyone who had occasion to be around Phoebe discovered, she had a beautiful glow that came from her faith in Jesus.—Not that she didn’t have tests and fears and concerns. Facing such a huge transition into the unknown before her had to be pretty scary, but when Jesus is with you, He will protect you and walk with you even through the valley of the shadow of death. A child can be fearful of facing the unknown, but if her father is right there with his arm around her, telling her it’s going to be okay, she has confidence to keep going even if she’s still scared. It’s the same way with us and Him.

I asked Phoebe, “If you make your trip to heaven in the near future, do you have any particular wishes for those who will stay behind? If we do something in your honor, what would you want us to do?”

She said, “I would like to see people trust people more, to look deeper, to see beyond the obvious, to not judge one another, to accept one another as each person is and to be willing to put others first instead of themselves.”

On Phoebe’s blog, her posts speak of the thoughts, struggles, and victories of someone who has bravely run the race and has turned what many would see as overwhelming setbacks into wonderful victories and testimonies.

For most, facing the possibility of dying in the immediate future can be a scary proposition. On top of the prospect of severe pain or other suffering, Phoebe struggled with leaving friends and loved ones here. She felt concern for them and the pain that they were experiencing and would experience. And of course, heaven isn’t something we can see yet. It’s a walk of faith.

Phoebe demonstrated great faith and trust in God, through all that she endured. She understood suffering and pain and all the fears, doubts, and struggles that so often accompany such circumstances better and more personally than most. Her connection with God turned all she had already faced into a wonderful testimony of trust and love and confidence.

Editors’ note: Phoebe passed away peacefully in her sleep on the morning of March 20, 2013, and is now safe in the arms of Jesus, free from pain and suffering.

Romans 5:3-4 ESV / More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope,

Isaiah 40:29-31 ESV / He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength. Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.

Jeremiah 29:11 ESV / For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.


  1. Anne
    October 7, 2017, 7:32 am   /  Reply

    A very humble and moving story of a brave loving Christian lady whom loves Jesus her faith is very strong her love and compassion melts your heart thanku Phoebe for sharing God Bless you xo

  2. October 7, 2017, 8:47 am   /  Reply

    Your love for Jesus.

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