This is one of the most moving videos you will see this year. It involves a young, thirty-year-old woman named Jane Marczewski who currently has cancer in her lungs, spine and liver. She has been given a 2% chance of survival. Marczewski — who goes by the name ‘Nightbirde’ when she sings — recently appears on America’s Got Talent, where she received a golden buzzer for her performance.
In less than a week, the video has been viewed over 16 million times. What’s more, her song ‘It’s Ok’ is trending as one of the most popular songs on iTunes. Marczewski’s backstory though, is heartbreaking.
In her blog post ‘God is on the bathroom floor’, Marczewski writes:
After the doctor told me I was dying, and after the man I married said he didn’t love me anymore, I chased a miracle in California and sixteen weeks later, I got it. The cancer was gone. But when my brain caught up with it all, something broke. I later found out that all the tragedy at once had caused a physical head trauma, and my brain was sending false signals of excruciating pain and panic.
I spent three months propped against the wall. On nights that I could not sleep, I laid in the tub like an insect, staring at my reflection in the shower knob. I vomited until I was hollow. I rolled up under my robe on the tile. The bathroom floor became my place to hide, where I could scream and be ugly; where I could sob and spit and eventually doze off, happy to be asleep, even with my head on the toilet.
I have had cancer three times now, and I have barely passed thirty. There are times when I wonder what I must have done to deserve such a story. I fear sometimes that when I die and meet with God, that He will say I disappointed Him, or offended Him, or failed Him. Maybe He’ll say I just never learned the lesson, or that I wasn’t grateful enough. But one thing I know for sure is this: He can never say that He did not know me…
I remind myself that I’m praying to the God who let the Israelites stay lost for decades. They begged to arrive in the Promised Land, but instead He let them wander, answering prayers they didn’t pray. For forty years, their shoes didn’t wear out. Fire lit their path each night. Every morning, He sent them mercy-bread from heaven.
I look hard for the answers to the prayers that I didn’t pray. I look for the mercy-bread that He promised to bake fresh for me each morning. The Israelites called it manna, which means “what is it?”
… Even on days when I’m not so sick, sometimes I go lay on the mat in the afternoon light to listen for Him. I know it sounds crazy, and I can’t really explain it, but God is in there — even now. I have heard it said that some people can’t see God because they won’t look low enough, and it’s true.
If you can’t see him, look lower. God is on the bathroom floor.
It’s a powerful expression of faith. For in the midst of our deepest darkness, the Lord is with us. We often tell ourselves and each other to ‘look up’, but it’s just as important to see that the God of the Bible knows what it means to suffer. Indeed, He is described by the apostle Paul as the “God of all comfort” (2 Cor. 1:3).
Indeed, in a subsequent interview with Buzz, Marczewski explains the reason for her choice of the stage name, ‘Nightbirde’. She says that it came to her after having a dream on three consecutive nights of birds singing. On the third night, though, she woke up at 3 a.m. to find the tree outside her window full of birds singing.
What a profound illustration of what she has gone on to do. To continue to sing in the darkness even before the light of dawn has shone (see Psalm 13).
I don’t know whether the Lord intends to heal her body now, or later on in the new creation. But what I am sure of, is that you’ll be inspired by her example and touched by her talent.
May we too be given the grace to be the same.