Why does Katie have to suffer? Why does she have to vomit so often that she can’t gain a significant amount of weight? Why can’t she use her words to tell me what is making her cry for hours upon hours? Why do Andy and I have to endure the pain of listening and not knowing how to fix it? Why, oh why God? It’s difficult to see the reason behind the tremendous amount of suffering in this world today.
I often find that it is in teaching that we learn so much. I am working part time at my church (hence the absence of blogposts) and part of my job is teaching the 10th grade Confirmation class. We are using an amazing video series to guide us through the year, it is Matthew Kelly’s Decision Point and I cannot say enough good things about this program. I believe a recent session may have taught me more than my students. I want to share a story Kelly told in one of our classes.
“A long time ago a nobleman’s son was playing outside and fell into a deep dangerous swamp. He struggled to get out, but was sinking quickly. Nearby, a poor village boy heard his screams, the boy saved the nobleman’s son. The nobleman and his family visited the boys home and discovered that the family was very poor, they offered to pay them a large sum of money for rescuing their son, but the poor family was too proud to take it. After a bit of thought the nobleman offered to send the poor boy to school. The family agreed. The poor boy turned out to be very smart and was accepted to Medical School, he worked very hard. Many years down the road the nobleman’s son, the same boy who had been caught in the swamp, became very ill with pneumonia. His life was saved a second time by the drug Penicillin. That Penicillin had been invented by the same little poor boy who had saved him once before, the same boy his family had sent to school. The story gets even better…the nobleman boy, was actually Winston Churchill, who stopped Adolf Hitler and saved the world from this Nazi regime.”
This is a true story and it has so many beautiful layers. Only one Master could have orchestrated it so perfectly. The story hit me hard because there was suffering endured on many levels and if each event had not happened the outcome of the world could have been very different. The nobleman’s son almost died in the swamp, who knows what pain he suffered from the accident. But had this unfair, very scary event not happened then his family, who were probably traumatized by their son almost dying, would not have been indebted to the poor boy. The poor boy wouldn’t have gone to school and Penicillin may not even be around today. If there was not Penicillin when Churchill was sick he would have likely died and who knows what would have become of the world if Adolph Hitler had not been stopped.
We never know God’s plan along the way, we never know when a suffering one day will lead to great things many years down the road. When Katie was a newborn, there is no way I could have imagined how many souls she would save. I was too focused on our suffering and all the reasons why it should have never happened. I couldn’t see past my pain, I couldn’t see past her handicaps, I couldn’t see past what I thought would never be. That truly makes me smile, because all of those things I feared she would never do have been so beautifully replaced with much bigger jobs sent straight from God.
During this particular Confirmation class we talked about our mission in life. Matthew Kelly pointed out how we all have a mission from God and when we ignore this mission it simply goes undone. Like if the poor boy hadn’t worked so hard so many long days and nights and hadn’t discovered Penicillin many lives would have been lost. God has a plan, that much is clear, but He gives each one of us free will, sometimes parts of His plan get left undone. That my friends is why this world is such a mess.
Kelly points out that there is more than enough food in this world to feed every single starving person, those millions of children who die every year from starvation don’t have to die. Open your refrigerator right now and see how much food you have, how much food we waste. The world is out of alignment with what God wants because many people are not living God’s specific mission for them. We all too often live our own personal mission, the one that serves ourselves, the one we see so clearly, the one that takes us away from God’s plan.
Now, 13 years into my journey with Katie I see these things more clearly. One of her many missions from God was to wake me up. Fourteen years ago, I don’t think any of this would have mattered much to me because I was not in line with God’s mission for me. I still struggle on a daily basis to put God first, but I am lightyears ahead of where I would be if Katie had not entered my world. In that class we all wrote our mission statement, I wrote one for Katie. “I will share love with everyone I meet through my innocent, sinless life to create compassion, and in doing so I will change the world.” Good job Katie! You are living out God’s plan and I couldn’t be more proud of you!