Remaining Steadfast in the Lord

by Ashley Smith
June 2015
I recently viewed a documentary of a Los Angeles woman, Debbie Peagler, who was incarcerated after the murder of her abusive boyfriend. The story was absolutely devastating, but as I watched I could not help but notice the faith in the Lord this woman possessed. At 15, her mother introduced her to a young man who eventually forced her into prostitution, beat her horrifically, molested her daughter and threatened her life. After years of abuse, she unsuccessfully tried to leave and eventually, for protection, asked local gang members to “scare” her boyfriend, but they ended up killing him. After being threatened with the death penalty she plead to first-degree murder and was sentenced to 25-life. After 20 years of incarceration, two lawyers adopted her case to try to free her given a new law regarding battered women. They ultimately found grave misconduct with the district attorney’s office, and revealed that she should have only been charged with manslaughter and sentenced 6 years. After enduring horrific abuse for years, and having almost 3 decades of life ripped away, one might lose hope; however, she always had a joyful disposition and reverence for the Lord. There were scenes of her worshiping God, singing with the prison church ministry choir, and praying with other women.
Her joy in the Lord was not dependent on her circumstances. Even after her attorneys discovered injustice after injustice she was still denied release and if things couldn’t get any worse, at 49 years old she was diagnosed with end-stage lung cancer, and even at this point she honored the Lord. Throughout the documentary this woman was a shining example of having steadfast courage in the Lord. She even understood that maybe it was in prison where the Lord needed her to help other women. She was a leader in the prison church ministry and helped innumerable women overcome their own obstacles with drugs and being abused. She never questioned God’s plans, just trusted in them.
Praise God, she was granted parole 10 months before she passed on and during this time, while sick and dying she still ministered to other women. This story not only broke my heart, but it reminded me to stand firm in my faith in the Lord and to remember that God’s gift of grace requires a response from us, no matter our circumstances. As Paul said to the Philippian church “…I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am (Phil 4:11).”
We as Women of the Word need to do more. There are so many women who need to be guided to the Lord, to find comfort in the Holy Spirit and not the things of this world. We have to forget about our selfish desires and serve. Step outside of our comfort zones, share our stories and help get other women get on track. We must know our Word, profess our faith, demonstrate Christ-like demeanor, minister to others and remain steadfast in the Lord no matter what life brings, because he will always work things out for your good and for His glory.


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