Divine Paradox

It is hard to describe the last few days, not only because they have been difficult, but mainly because they have been unexpected. Honestly, when Jonathan began having motor challenges due to tumor growth back in December, I knew that some sort of physical disability could be a reality for our family. In my mind, it was clear that having a permanent weak arm, or using a brace, or a cane could be our “new normal.”  As we processed this reality, God provided a way for us to sell our tri-level house and to move into a new home where Jonathan would have all he needed in the main level.  As his left side weakness worsened towards the end of May, a wheelchair began to replace the cane in my thoughts. As frightening as this idea was, I felt we would be fine. I would probably need to stop working in order to make my husband’s work a priority. I almost envisioned myself helping him getting ready every day, driving him to the office, and typing for him. I imagined life would be hard, but we would be fine.

In July,  Jonathan got very sick. He got weaker that I had ever seen him. As we were trying to get him better from (what we thought only was) a GI hurdle, we discovered that the tumor was moving into his brain stem, and what had once been just a scary thought became real. We needed more treatment; more chemo and more radiation. I would not return to work. In fact, I would need to become a full time helper to Jonathan since it was now evident that his left side would not go back to normal. Rather, it would only improve some, if treatments worked. Processing all of this was hard, but Jonathan and I have always been a team and I could picture us teaming up to make things happen. We would need to rearrange our activities and priorities, but we could do it; getting him dressed in the morning, driving him to work, going to PT and OT regularly, typing for him. I knew it would be hard, but I was ready. We had a plan. It always feels good to have a plan. First, we needed to get his GI system back on track, then complete radiation as he began oral chemo. Six weeks later, second oral chemo… hopefully all towards a successful arrest of the tumor. We would be fine.

Then, last week happened. Hospice was called. As we initiated the process, my mind quickly built new expectations. We would stop treatments, Jonathan’s body, now free of toxic treatments, would regain some strength, and we would enjoy sweet family times for many days. That would be fine.

We have now been in hospice care for a week and my expectations have been shattered as quickly as they were built. Hospice workers are a blessing. They are sensitive people who strive to support the patient and his family in every possible way. But hospice is impossibly difficult. It means coming face to face with an undesired reality and with decisions one wishes never having to make. Jonathan’s health continues to deteriorate and there have been curveballs that I never envisioned. Things are not fine, but God’s promises remain.

So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.

During this sad, hard week, I have struggled with what has felt like contradictory concepts in my heart. For days, I have felt that one side of me is begging for a miracle from the Lord; knowing that it is medically impossible for Jonathan to recover, yet believing that God designed Jonathan’s body and He is in absolute control over each one of his cells. He rules over the laws of the natural world. He commands the universe. The other side of me is willing to accept that if God choses for Jonathan’s body not to recover in this world but to receive ultimate healing in His presence, He can be trusted. His plan for our family is still good and perfect. He will carry Joanna, Daniel, David and me through. He will not forsake us.

These two seem impossible to reconcile. They seem opposite. But the Bible teaches both. The Lord delights in His children’s prayers. By God’s infinite grace, we have access to the throne of grace to find mercy and help in time of need. Because of Jesus’ blood, we have the freedom to let our requests known to God by prayer and supplication. I can keep begging for a miracle. God is not offended. He sees my heart. He hurts with me. Illness is not part of His original plan. And in the same breath I can confidently say “not as I will, but as you will.” Jesus himself taught us that. He begged for a different outcome, yet He modeled for us what it looks like to have complete trust in the Father’s perfect plan by willingly saying “your will be done.”

We don’t say “your will be done” because we lack faith in God’s power over His creation. And we don’t ask the father for a miraculous intervention because we don’t trust that He may have a better plan for us. Both, asking and submitting are acts of faith and they can coexist. It is a divine paradox that ultimately reflects God’s character; He is powerful and He is sufficient.

These are long days. They are hard. We keep praying with open hands to the God that knows all things and that loves us relentlessly. We pray that His name will be glorified.

Let us consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. 

He is faithful. He can be trusted.

31 thoughts on “Divine Paradox”

    1. How you can be going through this and write with such insight and faith is amazing. Continuing to pray for all the family.

  1. Your words of faith are beautiful beyond words. It is true. God is good and He is trustworthy and His grace is filling you and then spilling over, running out and around each one of us. Thank you for sharing your heart. Your honesty and vulnerability bring God great glory! ❤️

  2. Stunningly beautiful words and amazing spirtual maturity. I pray for you all. Your words and strength are a true inspiration to all who read them. God Bless You.

  3. Oh Karla, your words are so powerful. And so true. Your honesty and sincerity is touching so many. You write eloquently and masterfully. I hurt with you even though I know that I don’t understand even half of the pain you feel. I promise to continue to pray for Jonathan’s healing knowing our Father can turn his weakened body into a tower of strength. And I’ll trust HIM completely if his plan is for Jonathan to go home – to his eternal home. You’re so right about the paradox we feel. Much love to all five of you!!

  4. Our family and our souls are in constant prayer for your family. 2 Chronicles 20:12,” We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you.”

  5. Karla, as I read this I thought “I want to know God like that.” Not in my head, but in my heart. When it matters most. When things aren’t rosy but when life is at it’s most difficult. When you think things can’t get any worse but they do. Thank you for writing this. Thank you for the testimony of your family. WE ARE PRAYING WITH YOU!

  6. Karla I’ve known Jonathan and the Bean family for years and my heart hurts. How great and awesome is our God to bring you into that family. God has a plan for each one of us. When my mom passed away from breast cancer I did not understand why He took such a beautiful Christian woman. But only God knows when our body is so tired that it can no longer sustain life. How dare I hold onto her and keep her here because I couldn’t let her go. My mom’s work on earth was done and God wanted to reward her by bringing her into His heavenly home. The greatest gift He could give us and I wasn’t allowing her to have it. I remember the day so clearly when I sat down by my mom’s bedside and with a broken heart I took her hand and told her it was time for her to go be with her Father in heaven. Karla I had to release her. And once I did that it was like a zillion ton weight was lifted off my shoulders. And strangely enough that’s when I inherited her ministry. God opened my mouth with His words. And the pain I thought I felt by losing my mom was gone because you see I didn’t lose her I gave her to our God so that I could see her again when He decides to take me home. Hallelujah God is so good all the time. Jonathan is in good hands — heavenly hands — nurturing hands. Though I’ve never met you someday we’ll meet because God’s children always do. Love to all of you.

  7. How beautiful are your words in understanding God’s sovereign being. Your testimony is steadfast. My family and I have walked the brain tumor road and our hearts go out to all of you. The parallel is uncanny and we both understand that the ultimate healing is receiving eternal life whenever God calls us home. As a spouse, I personally believe you cling to the possibility of a miracle longer than anyone. And they still happen! I pray with you for your miracle for Jonathan. May God continue to sustain each of you with his love and grace. I still cling to Romans 12:12. “Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction and faithful in prayer. “

  8. Karla,
    We join with you in believing for Jonathan’s healing and trusting in The LORD, Most High. Yes, HE holds you even now. We are covering you and your precious family in prayer in the throne room of GOD.
    But I trust in you, O LORD; I say, “You are my God.” – Psalm 31:14.

  9. Oh Karla. My heart breaks for you, but it rejoices in your unwavering Faith! As I read this post I found myself sitting in your shoes again 7 years ago. I remember the begging for a miracle and I remember the surrending to Gods will for me and the boys. I love you sweet friend and will continue praying for you and the kids.

  10. As I was reading your heartfelt testimony, I was taken back to my life 2 years ago. My husband was struggling with Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis. We would pray and ask God for a miracle and for his body to be healed, but that was not God’s plan. We went down all the medical roads by going to the leading hospitals in the country and being tested for a lung transplant, but this was not God’s plan for him either. It was an emotional roller coaster. I thought as long as I could care for him daily and sit and talk to him, eat with him, watch TV with him, sit on the porch with him, we would be fine, but I was being selfish. My husband would tell everyone that he was in a WIN, WIN situation, if God healed him, he would get to stay here with his family, but if God chose not to he would go home and be with his Heavenly Father for eternity and be healed in heaven. Well God chose to take him home and now he is not struggling to breathe, he is healed. I know the road you are walking is not easy and you can only walk it with God’s strength and guidance. I will pray for that with you, for you and your family. Blessings for you and for Jonathan.
    ” For I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not harm you, plans to give you hope and a future, declares the Lord”. Jeremiah 29:11

  11. Karla and Jonathan, a wonderful neighbor just stopped her car as I was working in the yard and asked, “How is Jonathan? I’ve been praying!!” God is raising up a multitude of believers, covering you in prayer. And we are praying the paradox: Father, we know you have the power to heal every cell in Jonathan’s body. We long for that miracle. If that will bring you glory, Father, we yearn for that healing. Father, we also know that the safest place Jonathan, Karla, Joanna, Danny, and David can be is in the center of your will. Not our will, Father, but yours.

  12. Karla,
    my heart is broken right now. The reality of this disease is very real and can be very scary. I have no more encouragement than that of the Lord’s promises to us. He is near. He is sovereign. He is a perfect father with perfect love for his children.
    Please let Jonathan know of the support that he has from myself and my family. The Lord brought our families together in one way at one time so that we might lean on each other in a new way at a later time.
    We love you guys and Will continue to remember you constantly in the coming days. Let us know of any need in which we may be able to help.

  13. My heart breaks for you and your family. I will continue to pray for Jonathan and your family. God give you strength and comfort in the days ahead. God Bless!

  14. Karla, your sweet words paint a vivid picture of God’s love and your faith as you, Jonathan, and your family submissively trust in God’s will. I hope you realize that the words you write are a testimony & witness to everyone who reads them. I believe as one of your friends wrote from their own experience that you also are in a win win situation. The Lord will keep on sustaining you whether He heals Jonathan or takes him home. Meanwhile, we keep praying here in High Ridge, Mo.

  15. Oh my, how your words touched my soul about praying for people that you love or even yourself during difficult times. I always have trouble praying for friends and family that are hurting physically as I ask God for healing or please be merciful and take them on home. What you have shared has been an encouragement to me as I pray as well as a relief that I can pray requesting both miraculous healing and God’s will for people. Thank you and God bless you as you continue through this difficult darkness. I have been and continue to pray for Jonathan and your family.

    1. Zep. 3:
      The Lord your God is with you,
      the Mighty Warrior wo saves.
      He will take great delight in you;
      in His love He will no longer rebuke you,
      but will rejoice over you with singing.

  16. Karla, our family is praying for your family- that God will give you strength and peace during such a difficult time. When I think of Jonathan, I remember the day my teenagers came home from hearing him speak for the first time. They were so full of excitement! “I’ve never heard anyone talk about God that way! This guy makes it so real!” He made a lifelong impact on their lives and he continues to impact others, revealing God, even from his bed. As others have shared, these seasons of life change us forever. God will use you and your children in a mighty way because of your struggle. He will carry you in the palm of his hand.

  17. Karla
    Thank you so much for sharing your heart and hurts with us. You have encouraged us to look to our God and trust Him. We are hurting with you and praying and trusting with you. We love you all. Tom and Dedy Werk

  18. My heart breaks for you, but it is so amazing to see your faith shining through. I am praying for you and your precious family.

  19. What a powerful testimony! Today, when someone asked how your family is doing I replied, Truly amazing, because Jonathan had always lead his family to have an Eternal Perspective. Even years ago, your beautiful children inspired me to hold the temporary things of this world more lightly. God’s sovereign plan for your family is so Good, and Jonathan has touched so many hearts to passionately share the Good News of Jesus! We are praying for Jonathan’s recovery; as well as, rejoicing that he may soon get to meet Jesus face to face. When the time comes, The Master will be so glad to welcome this Good and Faithful Servant. Your writing is beautiful and we are so blessed that you have shared this journey here. May the Lord strengthen you and the children. May He bless you, keep you and shine his face toward you. We love you and are so amazed at the Grace and Faith you are living out.

  20. I have read these blogs…this one hit me…I am printing all of them….from the beginning…I want this kind of knowledge of our great God’s love and care for us. There will be a day that I will need this faithful perspective and these scriptures to hang on to. God has given you great faith…may you be safe and blessed in this time of deep grief and yet great rejoicing that the battle is done and death has no hold on believers…Because He lives!!!

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