Not many people would expect much encouragement or joy to come from a woman that is homebound and facing death, but those who knew blogger Sara Frankl know how God can show Himself through a person in their darkest hour. On Saturday, Sept. 24, Frankl died, but it is clear that the impact she made on her readers and friends will continue on as a part of her legacy.
The 38-year-old Frankl, who went by the nickname of Gitz, was a writer for the Christian women's blog, (In)Courage. Up until a few weeks before her death she also maintained the Gitzen Girl blog, where she shared her story and her view of the world while her illness confined her to her Iowa apartment.
Despite her limited physical access to the outside world, Frankl was able to make friends and touch lives all around the country through the power of the internet. Similarly, her funeral was streamed live over the internet so those who loved her far and wide could be a part of it.
During the funeral, which was held at St. Cecelia's Catholic Church in Algona, Iowa, the priest pointed out that Frankl's blog had received over 1 million hits, though getting more readers was not important to her.
At her wake on Tuesday, Frankl was dressed in a shirt that reads “It's Not About Me” as a means of diverting the attention from her and her illness toward God and His love.
“Even in her death,” wrote Frankl's friend Shannon on the Gitzen Girl blog, “our friend proclaims her life was about something bigger....she desires people to see it's about what God does through her rather than what she could do on her own.”
Angela Nazworth, a fellow (In)Courage writer, shared her thoughts on Frankl's life and death with The Christian Post via email on Thursday.
“One's will needs to be strong in order to choose joy like Sara did. Pain ravaged her body, but she never complained ... never held a pity party and never really focused on it when talking to others unless she was directly asked. She chose to be a light. She chose to give herself to others. She chose joy. You cannot make those choices without God's strength or without embracing His tenderness,” Nazworth said.
Frankl was afflicted with Ankylosing Spondylitis, an autoimmune disease that starts attacking a person's joints by building scar tissue around them, which can eventually turn into bone and fuse the joints together. In Sara's case the disease affected other body systems as well, giving her a host of other problems.
She also had leukopenia, a condition that caused her white blood count to stay low and get even lower when she became sick, making her susceptible to all sorts of illnesses.
“My life now, to put it bluntly, is painful,” she wrote on her blog in June 2008. “If I'm having a good day it means my pain is moderately high at best, and I've showered and gotten around my house without having to give myself a pep-talk first.”
Toward the end of Frankl's life, after she was told that she had only a few weeks left to live, the Internet came alive with people who expressed mixed emotions of joy for having known her and sorrow knowing that she would not be with them much longer.
On the Jesus Needs New PR blog, friend and fellow blogger Matthew Paul Turner said that he reached out to singer Amy Grant on behalf of Frankl, and Grant responded.
“Sara, Matthew reached out to me today and I wanted to let you know that I am praying for you and to thank you for letting my music be part of the soundtrack of your life,” Grant said.
“I trust that someday we will understand the full glory of God’s plan and the reasons He chose you for this particular journey. Keep your eyes on Him and know that I am honored to be your sister in Christ. I’ll see you on the other side.”
Though Frankl has passed on, the impact that she has continues and her life serves as evidence of the joy that a person can find in God even in the most difficult of situations.