There’s something about the sound of birds chirping that, for me at least, evokes a sense of tranquility, peace and optimism. Maybe that’s because I’m often greeted with nature’s melodic symphony while enjoying a morning cup of coffee in my backyard swing.
I wonder, however, if such a rendition by my feathered friends perched atop an ensemble of hardwoods would sound as pleasant during my darkest hour?
For 30-year-old musician/singer/songwriter Jane Marczweski of Zanesville, Ohio, it was birds singing amid her most despairing of times—literally a dream come true during a nightmarish season of her life—that inspired her professional moniker Nightbirde.
Recently, the fledgling musical artist soared on America’s Got Talent (AGT) when she sang her original song “It’s Ok.” The song quickly hit #1 on Itunes, after judge Simon Cowell unilaterally named her a semifinalist in the talent competition. Quite the redemption story for someone who failed to make the choral team while a student at Liberty University.
In a blog post, Nightbirde recounts being diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer on New Year’s Eve 2019. Her body was riddled with cancerous tumors in her lungs, ribs, liver, spine and lymph nodes. The prognosis for her diagnosis included six months to live with a two percent chance of survival. “Two percent is not zero percent,” Jane declares optimistically. Meanwhile, her ex-husband chose to renege on their wedding vow “until death do us part” and bailed on their marriage before their duet was supposed to end.
After twice dreaming of birds singing in the dark, Jane says she was awakened in the middle of the night to the same reality. “The birds were singing as if it was morning but there was really no sign of the light yet,” she said. “And I wanted to embody that. Being somebody that could sing through a dark time because I was so full of hope and assurance that there would be a morning.”
Nightbirde is currently trying to fend off a third recurrence of this deadly disease. During her April audition with AGT, she barely weighed 85 pounds while confessing that cancer had revisited her lungs, spine and liver. But that didn’t stop her from belting her raspy upbeat mantra, “It’s Ok, it’s Ok, it’s Ok, it’s Ok if you’re lost, we’re all a little lost, and it’s all right.”
Following her standing-ovation performance, Jane, who professes to be a Christian, told the AGT judges: “You can’t wait until life isn’t hard anymore before you decide to be happy.”
In her blogs, she writes about what God is teaching her through her trials and suffering.
“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.”
In another blog, Jane likens her journey to the Israelites’ 40-year sojourn in the desert. “Call me cursed, call me lost, call me scorned. But that’s not all. Call me chosen, blessed, sought-after. Call me the one who God whispers His secrets to. I am the one whose belly is filled with loaves of mercy that were hidden for me.”
It’s been said that when trials and tribulations try to squeeze the life out of you, they reveal what’s in your heart. Jane leaves little doubt that her identity is in Christ.
I don’t know what life looks and feels like right now for you. But I do know this: God knew before you were born that you would be where you are right now. And whether you are delighted or disillusioned; have plenty or are in want; happy or sad, God wants you to experience His comforting and joyful presence every day of your life.
It doesn’t matter whether life has you taking a bow or taking a knee; shining or fading; soaring or descending; winning or losing— joy in Christ is possible, whatever your situation. This I know because Jesus tells us so in John 16:33: “I have said these things to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” (ESV).