How Do You Define Courage?

It’s Monday here in the PH, and this morning, I became a total wreck.

This is brought about by Courageous Caitie, a three-year old who battled a rare case of leukemia and (just recently) went home to heaven with the Lord.

If you haven’t heard of her, Caitie caught the eye of the media in the PH and in Southeast Asia earlier this year as she and her family battled an unknown medical puzzle, which was revealed to be juvenile myelomonocytic leukemia (JMML) upon their transfer from Manila to Singapore. What was amazing about this kid and this family was that even though they were dealing with Caitie’s condition, they took every chance to be kind and rejoice, and grabbed every opportunity to share Jesus with everyone they encountered — the nurses, the doctors, the patients in other wards, and even their growing social media following.

Caitie transitioned from physical to eternal last Thursday, March 31. But her mission — and her story — didn’t stop there.

At the service held in Singapore, thousands of people came forward with stories of how Caitie made an impact in their lives. Strangers cried over the loss of an angel on earth, and love and prayers poured out for her family. All of these people who came to see her and bid their last goodbyes heard the good news of salvation — an incredible feat for a three-year old who wasn’t even physically present anymore. Even in death, Caitie was going on with her mission. She was bringing people to Jesus.

As they brought her back to the PH, her family chose to celebrate her life instead of mourn her passing. Thousands of strangers came to pay their respects, share their stories, and catch a last glimpse of the girl who contained courage and strength in her small body. She still went on to become an image of childlike faith through the stories and videos shared by her family. And yesterday, they sent her off just like parents giving away their daughter’s hand — celebrating her marriage to Jesus for she has become His eternal bride.

So, back to why I’m such a wreck on the morning of the first day of the workweek.

I’ve been following Caitie’s journey ever since her uncle, Jeffrey, shared her condition with us (we’re both part of the Singles’ Ministry at church). I wasn’t able to visit during her wake, so I just got updates and snippets from the Courageous Caitie Facebook page and from Jeff.

This morning, three days after Caitie’s passing and a day after her send-off, I came across this post written by Caitie’s mom, Tin.

I’m crying because at three years of age, she had accomplished and positively influenced a lot more people than some of us have in our present lives. How could someone so young and so frail contain genuine strength and courage within her, other than attributing it to come from One who is higher, mightier, and stronger than she is?

I’m crying not because Caitie went on ahead of us, but because her parents have shown the utmost faith in God, surrendering her to Him, knowing that they would all come home and be reunited at the end of the road. It’s really hard when you lose someone so precious and dear to you, but her family chose to rejoice and celebrate how her life has been a blessing to them and an amazing adventure to her.

That alone takes real faith. That alone takes real love. That alone takes real courage.

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Courage is the gripping story of undying faith and of infinite hope in the face of the unknown and impossible. It’s a force so powerful that its reflection can be seen in the eyes of the people strong enough to contain it. And it’s something that I hope everyone could somehow, someway, or someday find inside themselves.

Just like Caitie, may we all be strong and courageous.

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