Saturday, July 19, 2008

Jesus Wept

(Begun on Sunday, July 13)

Katherine asked me today why this happened. Taken off guard, I scrolled through my index of theologically sound explanations. I stopped at the end where a Forest Gump one appeared: S*** happens.

She was enduring the indignity of having her diaper changed at the time. (At least she doesn’t try to flip over the way James does.) Atypical tears started flowing as she lip-synced, “I can’t talk! I can’t walk! Why?? Why, Mom??? ”

By this point, my own were raining down on her freshly made-up face, which is a new Sunday tradition meant to mimic Church Best. (There are usually a lot of visitors on Sunday, and we want to put our best foot forward.) I tried to wipe them off without disturbing the recently applied blush.

I said, “I don’t know why. But I do know that God didn’t cause it to happen. He is not the author of suffering like this. God only allows those things which he can ultimately use for good in the lives of his children.” Although I do happen to choose to believe that statement, it sounded hollow and pre-fab as it came out.

A few minutes later, she said, “I’m mad.”

“Good,” I replied, “ I’m mad as hell.”

“Yes! I am, too,” she mouthed.

“But Katherine, you don’t cuss.”

“I know!” in the new Wisconsin accent, “You shouldn’t either.”

Unfortunately, some habits die hard.

One day a while back, I walked out of that ugly old hospital into another delicious California afternoon. But instead of rejoicing in it, I said (silently) to no one in particular: “THIS SUCKS.” Now even though I threw in the towel ages ago and finally gave up asking people if they knew the direct object of that verb, it still sounds rather rough to me. (I didn’t give up until I heard it used on a newscast, a weather report, and from a pulpit. Then I figured it had pretty much joined the vernacular.) Just as I was getting all geared up to feel like a bad person for losing my perspective, surprising words entered my head. “I know. Jesus wept.” Instead of condemnation, I felt embraced by a rush of hot love.

Jesus wept: a perennial favorite of kids challenged to memorize a Bible verse. It may be the shortest sentence in the Bible, but it is also one of the most profound and transformational. God cried. The Lord of Heaven’s Armies, voluntarily bearing the frailties of flesh intrinsic to the skin he was in, groaned in anguish. The NLT version (which I love) says, “When Jesus saw her weeping and saw the other people wailing with her, a deep anger welled up within him, and he was deeply troubled.” In verse 38, it says he was “still angry.” (John 11:33-38)

God is not unmoved by his children’s sorrows. He is torn with grief at our suffering. He is angrier when I hurt than I am when one of my babies hurts. And that’s pretty damn (I mean darn) angry.

He hates it when children die of cancer, when beautiful, brilliant college girls like Eve Carson are senselessly murdered, when young soldiers like Evan Marshall are killed in Iraq. He grieves about our broken hearts, broken relationships, broken bodies. He despises the suffering inherent in sin, the unnecessary agonies we bring upon ourselves; He agonizes over our self-destructive tendencies, sympathizes with us in our weakness and failures.

I believe there will come a day in the fullness of time when He’s gonna do something about it. In the meantime, I must cling to the bedrock of belief in the goodness of His deeply compassionate nature. I steel myself to hold onto the Rock even when those violent waves keep trying to knock me off of it. Anything else is unthinkable.

And, yes, in spite of my fickleness and double-heartedness, I do believe that He would not have allowed something that angers Him as much as Katherine’s broken wings must do unless it would be used for good.

GREAT good.

(Will somebody please remind me of that the next time I start cussing and grumbling?)


suzirockett said...

I weep at everything you write and share...sometimes so much I have to take my glasses off and wait a bit to go on reading. I am forever changed from your words and the truth in what you say.
It is my prayer that when we meet in prayer on this Sunday, Our Father will show up and as said before "show off." That a mighty wind will blow and a great healing will take place and we can rejoice in another Jesus victory on this road of recovery.
May you all be held in the loving arms of our Lord today. Love Suzi

Katie said...


Assure Katty she's not the only one with some serious questions for the big guy. I have done my share of wrestling and cursing with this over the past few months - and although I have not yet heard an answer, the peace of His presence has not left. And for that, I am grateful. My prayer is that even in your anger - Christ would be powerful and real to the both of you. I'm still pissed, and he's still present. Thank goodness for grace.

Love to you both!

Katie Bentley

Karen said...

My own dear daughter, at age 16, lay dying of liver failure. The most horrible part was that it was the side effect of a suicide attempt. God restored her, she walked out of hospital, and is today at age 24, alive and healthy, and not all that grateful to God, nor obedient to his commands. She acknowledges him, but isn't in love with him at all. Does that make sense either? Why this and not that?
I don't think we can know. I think all we can do is trust. Faith is counted toward us as righteousness. When we trust(have faith in the darkness)in him- he is pleased. I am praying from here in VA, for your family. You all shine.

Ginny Evans said...

Kim, all I can say to you after reading this is "Thank You for being so very real"......As Suzi said, I weep most of the time at your writings and I am so grateful for what God has placed inside of you and for the fact that you are sharing it so beautifully!!!!! Thank You, thank you, thank you!! I, like millions of others will be praying tomorrow that God will show up and show off!! He is so good at that!!! Love, Ginny

Kerin said...

As I have followed Katherine's story and prayed for her and your family, I have really forgotten what I have to be thankful for in my life. Having suffered with chronic pain for years, without a diagnosis, I have wallowed in self pity - "going through the motions" of life. Only through Katherine's story, have I begun to give thanks to God inspite of my circumstances. Yes, I've been angry with God too. But, I can walk, talk, swallow - and I've taken all of that for granted. Katherine will be able to do all of those things again. The faith of your family and Katherine's courage have helped me try to "be joyful always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus." (1Thess. 5:16-18) I will be praying for Katherine tomorrow. Please tell her to keep fighting. She is making a huge difference in people's lives!

Lori said...


I appreciated this post so much. I have struggled with similar thoughts since Alan was born. Your grasp of how to view this shows you are a much wiser woman than I. I fought it for so long and questioned my faith. That didn't help any of us. I am so glad you realize the Lord will provide the strength to walk the road ahead. He is a loving God. It is in difficult times we grow.

Our family will continue to pray for Katherine and your entire family. Love, Lori Brown

Kristen said...

I've been thinking about your post all day.... I did "church" at home b/c of still recovering and get overwhelmed at the bigness of church. I watched a sermon on my computer and it was about Nehemiah 1. Thought of you, as Nehemiah says, "When I heard these things, I sat down and wept. For some days I mourned and fasted and prayed before the God of heaven." and then he prayed.
The pastor shared how Nehemiah faced the reality of his dire situation and held onto God's promises--And God met him. I pray that for you and Katherine. May God meet you even when we swear. : )That happens to me too.

candycarrillo said...

I weep for you all the time. Gina sometimes refuses to read the facebook accounts because of the same "problem."
So, did all that global, corporate prayer yesterday work?
Here is the prayer I prayed, along with my own stumbling words:, "We bind everyone of Katherine Wolf's cells to your will and purposes for her life, Lord. We bind her mind and emotions to you as we ask for healing and balance for her body and soul. Please pour out your grace and mercy upon her physically, emotionally, and mentally. Thank you for taking care of her- thank you, Lord.
We loose any diagnoses the doctors have pronounced over her that do not agree with your purposes in her life. Thank you for the doctors and their help, but those that don't know you do not see her health as you do. They do not know the hope and the promises that we have as your children. Please strengthen Katherine and restore her organs to the state they should be. Praise you, Lord, for knowing what is best at alll times.
I stand in agreement with you all- the the Lord's Word is the final say in every situation,

Alisa said...

I have nothing profound to say in my comment. Just, "Thank you, dear Kim. And, "I love you."

Linda Abney said...

Dear Kath and Kim,
Yesterday morning as I was praying for you both, my mind was focused on the man the disciples brought to Jesus and they couldn't get into the room because of the crowd. So, undaunted, they took him up to the roof, whacked out a hole and let him gently(I hope) down. That's what I wanted to do for you yesterday, Katherine. I wanted to let you gently down at the Master's feet and ask Him to do a miracle. He is still soooo in the miracle business. He loves us all so much and keeps on and on and on. I know it must get very discouraging to not see the miracles completed and you up walking but we are believing for that. And, that you will be restored to Jay and James and never be the same because you've been with Jesus in such a mighty way. I have to remind myself that He has done great things in you and he will complete his work.
Love, Linda

Lauren said...

Hi Katherine and family! You have no idea who I am, but i have been following your story since my boss at work in Montgomery, AL told me about it. He goes to FBC in Montgomery and I am so grateful that he told me about you. Your story is, of course, nothing less than amazing. I just wanted to share a though with you.
The Sunday after I learned about you, I went up in Church and told everyone else the story. The whole church gathered and prayed fervently for you and we have done the same several times since then. I give them updates nearly every Sunday and we have your picture in the foyer of our church as a reminder of God's great miracle.
Sunday, our preacher spoke on one of those lessons that you hear mostly as a child, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego walking through the fire with Jesus. As he preached the message, I was thinking about you. The message was so clear...just as those three men walked through "the fire had not harmed their bodies, nor was a hair of their heads singed; their robes were not scorched, and there was no smell of fire on them" (Daniel 3), I have no doubt (and I don't think anyone else does either) that you are going to come through this fire the same way they did...without even the smell of the smoke on you!!
Just remember, you are AWESOME, and that is an understatement!!

Thanks for letting me share


Brynn said...

My friend and I were talking about Katherine the other day and it dawned on me that it takes something THIS monumental to temporarily derail someone with the faith and reach that she has. All satan has to do to get me "out of the way" is whisper "you're not good enough" or "God couldn't possibly love YOU" or something of the like, then he can move on to driving someone else away from the full blessings God has in store for them.

Katherine, however, is not so easily knocked out of the way. I don't believe for a second that this has challenged her faith, but during such major trials, we're all understandably prone to throwing around a few curses and "why God, WHY?" may escape our lips on more than one occasion!!

I have to believe that the sheer number of people she is affecting in hugely positive ways is at least reciprocal to the pain that she has (unintentionally) taken on herself. God already HAS worked this for His good and we know will continue to do so long after she's back and stronger than ever!

Kim Arnold said...

Dear, precious sisters....

THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU for your wonderful, encouraging comments...your WISDOM....your beautiful honesty! I feel like I have the most amazing new (and old!) group of friends. Hope to make the new ones old ones someday. (Suzi, I'm so glad to have a face now to go with your name.)
Much love to ALL of you. God bless you!!!

margeandbill said...

Kim, you do not know us but we have followed these trials of your precious daughter from the beginning, because someone from a church where Jay used to pastor told us of Katherine. We pray every day and understand your frustrations and your faith. You and yours are amazing and God watches over all of you every minute. Tennbabe