Watch Her Arm!

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I tend to be a skeptic… or at least lean toward it. When someone tells me a story… an incident… especially the miraculous or mind-boggling type, my brain automatically searches for the obvious. For the not-so-miraculous that maybe they missed or overlooked. The explanation. The natural likelihood.

I’ve always identified with the disciple, Thomas, in the Bible. He needed to touch the wounds on Jesus to believe it was truly Him.

Don’t get me wrong. I believe in the miraculous, and in a very big God. I have faith in Him. But I have less faith in us and in our ability to interpret Him. Our tendency to over-spiritualize everything. Maybe the light turned green right at that moment because… well, it’s on a timer! You know what I mean.

Knowing this about me, my skeptical side, will help you understand why the next part is… well… mind-blowing.

Back to the NICU… for I have so many lessons there. This one, in particular, was one of the biggest. One month in, my daughter, Meagan, had lost the ability to move her arm. I had seen it days before, known it deep down as a mom knows things. I told the nurse and the doctors and they offered excuses. “No, Mrs. Gatto, she is not moving her arm because it’s tired.” (tired?) or “It has an IV board strapped to it and it just looks like she can’t move it.” (really?) or “Well, we can’t pull the line from that arm because it’s too hard to get another in.” (Oh)

Three days later, they pulled the line. But it was too late. The damage had been done and her arm was paralyzed. A team of neurologists confirmed it. No movement. And never will there be.

Over the next month as the atrophy set in, the discussions increased. Should we leave her arm or amputate it?

My baby’s arm? You want to cut it off? No!

But nothing changed, and it only deteriorated with each day. Shrinking. Dying.

Life took a new turn toward the incomprehensible. My daughter’s situation worsened. Not only with her arm, but because of the line that had done the harm, the dominoes fell. The damage inside her body became as evident as the damage outside. Her systems shut down. Her lungs collapsed. And she was back on life support.

One roller coaster lift up… one plummet down.

It was during those bleak days my husband found me face down on the kitchen floor. I had given up. I could not go on. The pain was too deep. The heartache too consuming. He lifted me off the ground and handed me the scripture pack (Remember the one I spoke of twice before?) Peter said, “You need Him now more than ever.” But I was angry with God. Angrier than I had ever been. All those prayers. All those times crying out. And where was He? Why was He so silent?

But I took a card anyway. And read… “Call upon Me in the day of trouble and I will deliver you.” (Psalm 50:15). The same message. The third time.

The phone call said Meagan had taken a turn for the worse. I had better get to the hospital right away. Another day. The same pain. The same heartache. Day after day. Week after week. Month after month.

I sat by her bedside and screamed out to God in my heart. It was a wretched cry. A defeated cry. One difficult to come back from.

You promise us in your Word that you won’t put us through more than we can handle without giving a way out. Well, I can’t handle it anymore! I am at my end. I cannot go through this one more day. WHERE ARE YOU???

 And then He spoke. As clear as I could ever hear. A voice, not my own, inside my chest. He said…

Watch her arm.

Watch her arm? Her arm? Her arm hasn’t moved in two months. Nothing. It is dead. And you want me to sit here and watch her arm? Fine. I’ll watch it. Because I have NOTHING ELSE TO DO!

So, I sat. And watched. One minute. Two. Ten minutes passed. Ten minutes… and the miracle happened. That baby lifted her arm off the bed. I straightened… and rationalized. She must have moved her body and her arm moved with it. It only looked like she moved it on its own. Then it happened again. And again. And I watched before my very eyes God breathe life into my daughter’s arm.  

Life from nothing. Life from death.

The power of God poured out in an earthly vessel. A miracle.

But the miracle for me resided also in the intimacy unveiled. The doubting Thomas within me that says: Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe. You see, had He not spoken first, I would have trusted in science more than miracles. I would have said the nerves were finally regenerating. It was part of the process. But no. He told me before it happened so I would know for sure it was Him.

Jesus found Thomas after His death and stood before him. “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.”

Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God!”

Jesus found me that day and said, I know your doubt. I know your uncertainty. But watch her arm, my child, for I am about to do something great.

His love, so infinite and so finite, in one breath. The God of the universe whispering to the heart of a broken soul.

Then He said to Thomas, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” (John 20:24-29)

Where are you today? Are the miracles real around you? Or are you struggling to see? Are you doubting His presence or His love for you? Are you turning away? Or filled with doubt? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed! Hang on to Him. Believe even when you cannot see.