I visited our beloved Mr. Kim at his care facility last Friday. His condition continues to be difficult. The damage from the brain bleed which possibly began last summer looks to be permanent. Mr. Kim cannot move, he cannot speak. He is still conscious and aware, he can communicate a great deal with his eyes. During my visit he listened and looked at pictures of our newborns on my phone. The brain is a funny thing I cannot know if my English or his son’s Korean is registering better, so we use both. My heart breaks but I try to encourage him during my visits.
Mr. Kim’s son told me something I did not know before: when Mr. Kim fled his homeland in the North during the Korean War he left behind three sisters and two brothers. To this day he does not know anything about their fate, whether they are alive or not. That broke my heart as well. I’m reading Jeremiah and Lamentations lately. Israel and Judah experienced complete societal collapse. People marched off to exile at the mercy of empires much greater. Koreans experienced the same thing. Mr. Kim directly… between the Japanese occupation, the Korean war, there was nothing short of societal collapse. Mr. Kim marched into exile away from his home. Just like Jeremiah.
We cannot know this kind of pain. Although the pain is real, so is our hope in the Lord: “Remember my affliction and my wanderings, the wormwood and the gall! My soul continually remembers it and is bowed down within me. But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore I will hope in him.”” (Lamentations 3:19–24)