Written by Scott Henderson.
There were no more treatment options left on the table for Jenna’s cancer. There were no more options left to fight it, yet we still clung to an unshakeable hope. It set the perfect stage for God to do His thing—to heal the unhealable. Oh, how incredibly powerful it was going to be to witness and share this great miracle. We would share this story over and over and over again, so people could see how amazing Jesus truly is! Five months later, I held my wife’s hand as she took her last breath in this world at the young age of thirty.
Heartbroken and defeated, I wrestled with how God could allow this to happen to Jenna. She absolutely loved and adored Him with everything she had, and now she was torn away by death. How could this ever be seen as “part of God’s good plan” or “used to glorify Him?” How could God ever justify taking away someone who gave their life to love Him and share His good news relentlessly. So many lost and broken high school friends would never again be loved by Jenna in hopes that they may see Jesus. So many questions and doubts. So very few answers or hope. And then I heard it. A quiet whisper to my broken, heavy heart. Jenna was healed. She was more alive than she had ever been, and I had to share it with everyone I could.
As Jenna walked through her battle with cancer, she often journaled. She shared how God was still good, even in the midst of her suffering. As the cancer progressively got worse, she still led Young Life (and even went to camp 3 months before her death).
She never quit telling people about Jesus. Her heart was so bold in her faith, that she would say “even if one person gains a relationship with Jesus through this, it’s worth it.” It was these words and these stories that I want to share with you. It is her strength and quiet boldness I hope you receive from her—to keep living and sharing the Gospel. For outside of this Great News, we have no hope to cling to.
Worth the Suffering is a book that was born out of the depths of this tragedy. Her words and her heart are raw as she clings to the Lord through her journey with cancer. Thank you for allowing me to share this with you all. It is my hope and prayer that Jenna’s words renew your faith and give you strength. That her words push you to keep showing up and loving your high school & middle school friends in the midst of their own sufferings, and in the midst of yours.
As camp approaches this summer for all of us, I am reminded of Jenna’s inexpressible joy for the week. She wrote this, even as she was physically weak from the cancer treatments:
“Rockbridge is a magical place, y’all. What a great first week of not having hair. It is literally life as it’s meant to be. I didn’t even have time to focus on my new lack of hair. I got to live life intentionally with an entire cabin of teenagers and talk to them about a God who loves them and gave His life for them.
How often do we get to slow down and have deep, intentional conversations? I love camp because it creates that environment with ease. They got to hear why life is so hard and messed up, and they got to see Jesus clearly, the Jesus who came to offer them real life. I can’t think of a greater privilege God has given me than being able to lead Young Life, and that is always at its peak during summer camp.
One thing I noticed while at camp is that prior to hair loss, I felt like God gave me this story that was just bottled up inside, and unless you know me personally, you wouldn’t know to ask. I think losing your hair is a great way to share your story. People are more likely to approach you and ask. I am not one to walk up to a stranger and tell them my whole life. God knows this about me. So a silver lining of hair loss is that it makes you a walking testimony.”
– Jenna Henderson, Worth the Suffering
Thank you friends for everything you do. It is a privilege to serve alongside you in this ministry. If you would like to purchase a copy of Worth the Suffering, you can do so at www.worththesuffering.com.
If you know another Young Life leader who has faced great suffering and could use some encouragement, email us their name and mailing address and tell us some of their story. We have a few of Jenna’s books to give-a-way and Scott would love to bless some leaders with a copy. We will not be able to give a book to everyone whose name is submitted, but we will select a handful of folks and send them the books.