The life of Joan of Arc is a perfect example of why faith counts. Joan was raised Catholic and lived a life of faith from beginning to end—a span of 19 years. What she accomplished in her short life and the lessons of faith she left behind might surprise you.
She Believed in Her Mission
When Joan was 12 or 13 years old, she believed she heard heavenly voices. These voices, she claimed, urged her to live her faith and to never deviate from a righteous path. She believed what they told her and followed their counsel. As she grew, she claimed her voices were preparing her to liberate France from the English, who were at the time successfully acquiring and usurping anything French.
Her Faith Motivated Others
Joan was not timid about sharing her faith. She told others of her voices and her mission. She believed that God had called her and that He would help her successfully rid her country of the English and crown the young, hesitant French prince, Charles VII.
The French were in need of hope. Joan’s faith inspired many of them to believe in themselves and trust that they could drive the English out of France. She lit the fire of faith in the hearts of her countrymen. Word spread, hope was kindled, and before long they flocked to her, rallied beneath her banner, and began fighting and winning battles and recovering French cities.
She Encouraged Others to Live Their Faith
Most of the Frenchmen that fought for Joan were also Catholic and shared her faith. She encouraged them to live it strictly and provided them ways to do so as they travelled with her from battle to battle. It is said that she even drove prostitutes away from the French army camps to protect and preserve the righteousness and faith of her soldiers.
She Relied on Her Faith for Protection
Joan believed her faith would protect her. Though she was wounded twice in battle—once, taking an arrow to the shoulder, and later, a crossbow bolt to the thigh—her faith and intuition seemed to keep her from serious harm until she accomplished what she believed to be her mission.
Her Faith Helped Her Do Hard Things
Joan overcame tremendous obstacles throughout her life, from lifting the siege of Orleans, to winning essential battles, to crowning Prince Charles VII at Reims, to facing down her English accusers alone after her capture in Compiègne.
She was terrified of being burned at the stake, which ultimately became her fate. She relied heavily on her faith during the final days and hours of her life. She requested a cross before they bound her hands and feet and lit the tinder beneath her. A compassionate onlooker quickly fashioned one from sticks and gave it to her. Another found a cross, and at her request, held it high for her to gaze upon as she succumbed to the flames. It is written that Joan yelled “Jesus” six times before she expired from this life. She held fast to her faith until the very end.
Like Joan, we can have faith that our lives have purpose. Like Joan, our faith can inspire others to rise up, have hope, and live according to their faith, in spite of overwhelming odds and paralyzing challenges. Like Joan, our faith also has the power to protect us and help us do hard things.
Whether Joan’s accomplishments came about because of her faith in God, or faith in herself, much can be learned from her life about the power of faith and what’s really possible if one is willing to believe.