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Not everyone gets to fight physical battles for the Lord. King David did, as did Samson and Gideon. Significantly, although they were great champions, they all lost spiritual battles, which is a telling comment on which is the harder fight to wage.

Carol Stagg waged a lifelong battle, not against physical enemies without, but against her own body. Diagnosed with lupus in her youth, at a time when sufferers rarely lived more than five years, Carol fought tenaciously for her right to live her whole life. She bore and raised three children, all girls, all fighters like their Mom. She spent sixteen years on the mission field in Bangladesh, which considering that lupus ‘flares’ are exacerbated by exposure to sunlight, was a heroic commitment to God. And she unfailingly extended her legendary hospitality to everyone the Lord sent her way.

We so clearly remember her kindness to our entire family when we were serving in Bangladesh; how she brought us all over for Canadian Thanksgiving for a fabulous meal, topped by her famous 17 layer torte, and delighted our children by producing from her store of goodies some A&W Root Beer. Then there was Christmas, with her house aglow with light and warmth, with presents for our children that were so appropriate to their characters. And all the time she fought the physical enemy within, the autoimmune response which deformed her hands and attacked her vital organs.

I have been thinking about Carol Stagg a lot while I have been over here. No only because she has been so sick lately, but because I have as well. Last November my allergies were in overdrive, making it hard just to get to school, let alone do a decent job teaching. Then I got a virus that was unlike anything I have ever experienced, it was so physically debilitating. Then my body reacted to all the medication I was taking and finally I threw my back out. I was a mess for a month, but I went to work every day.

It was my faith in the Lord and His ‘kind intention’ that got me through. That, and the reminder of Carol’s example. I thought of what she had endured for God; her courage, her steadfast refusal to give in to the deficiencies of her body, and it gave me strength. She had fought that good fight for fifty years; I could endure for a few weeks.

Carol Stagg passed away on Friday, finally succumbing to cancer after another heroic fight to live. She leaves behind a remarkable legacy of Christian grit that no one who has known her will ever forget. In the midst of our sorrow at her passing is the knowledge that our lives have been made so much richer by knowing her. And the comfort that where she is today, there is no more pain. 

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