I think it was last year I came across a singer who performed on the 16th season of ‘America’s Got Talent’. Jane Marczewski, also known by her stage name, “Nightbirde”, sang a song she composed, ‘It’s Ok’. It won her a ‘Golden Buzzer’ from Simon Cowell, the toughest judge on the panel (see https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CZJvBfoHDk0). Two days later, ‘It’s OK’ was the top song on iTunes. Here is the irony and you wouldn’t know it. Marczewski’s life was anything but OK. She was first diagnosed with stage three breast cancer in 2017. A year later she was declared cancer free but just a few months later, her battle with cancer resumed. She was given little chance of survival. If that wasn’t bad enough, her husband of five years left her but she ‘beat’ cancer for the second time in July 2020.

When she auditioned on “AGT”, her cancer had returned and it had spread to her lungs, spine and liver. When the judges felt sorry for her, she replied, “It’s OK…I am so much more than the bad things that happen to me”. No wonder you could hear a pin drop during her performance. It wasn’t just her soothing, beautiful voice but her strength of character, hope and resilience that inspired the audience and judges alike. After her performance, she said to the judges, “You can’t wait until life isn’t hard anymore before you decide to be happy”.

Due to her deteriorating health, Marczewski had to quit the competition. On February 19, after a five-year battle with terminal cancer, she passed away. She was 31. Her family in a statement said, “Those who knew her, enjoyed her larger-than-life-personality and sense of humour. She had a witty joke for every occasion – even if the joke was on her. Her lasting legacy will be the gift of hope she gave to so many through her music and the strength she found in Jesus”.

But you won’t find Marczewski sugar coating her struggles. In one blogpost she wrote ,” I am God’s downstairs neighbour, banging on the ceiling with a broomstick. I show up at His door every day. Sometimes with songs, sometimes with curses. Sometimes apologies, gifts, questions, demands. Sometimes I use my key under the mat to let myself in. Other times, I sulk outside until He opens the door to me Himself…I have called Him a cheat and a liar, and I meant it. I have told Him I wanted to die, and I meant it. Tears have become the only prayer I know. Prayers roll over my nostrils and drip down my forearms. They fall to the ground as I reach for Him…”.

But in the midst her sorrow, there was hope. In another post, she wrote, “I haven’t come as far as I’d like, in understanding the things that have happened this year. But here’s one thing I do know: when it comes to pain, God isn’t often in the business of taking it away. Instead, he adds to it. He is more of a giver than a taker. He doesn’t take away my darkness, he adds light. He doesn’t spare me of thirst, he brings water. He doesn’t cure my loneliness, he comes near. So why do we believe that when we are in pain, it must mean that God is far?…I must be a fool in love, because even from under all this debris, I still believe Him. And when I’m too angry to ask Him to sit on my bed until I fall asleep, He still stays”.

No surprise that millions of people around the world are inspired by her messages of faith, hope and perseverance.

“Increase our faith in you Lord!”