When God pushed us towards adoption, my husband and I figured it would be a tough process. We expected the foster care to adoption route to be a challenging road. Yet, we had no idea of the crazy journey that was going to rock our family to our core. We took placement of our daughter in January 2013 and had the joy and honor of adopting her last month – March 2017.
During these four years, I felt like life knocked the wind right out of me. Our daughter and I wrestled with attachment. Our biological kids went through an adjustment. What had felt like my “perfect” family was now in constant messy survival mode. Family gatherings became stressful knowing that our daughter would act out because of her anxiety. It felt overwhelming trying to discern how to best address her health concerns. There was a time we thought she would be placed back with one of her biological parents. Court hearings were postponed, canceled and rescheduled. Timelines of months became years, and there were many times where I looked at my husband and said, “I’m done.”
I don’t say these things to scare every one of you away from foster care. I tell you them because I’m just a broken sinner, and I want you to know that the last four years were some of the hardest of my life. And yet, I can say with 100% confidence that God wanted me to go through them anyway.
I had always known in my head that God doesn’t promise a perfect life to his followers, but in my heart, I think I expected him to provide it anyway. I didn’t even realize I’d bought that lie until God started revealing it through trials in my life. I’ve been learning (seems God always has something he is teaching me) that my whole existence isn’t about me. It is all about God and his glory from the very beginning… and it will be through all eternity.
As I continue to read the Bible and learn more about Church history, I’m starting to see a far different pattern than a cozy, perfect life where everything is always “hunky-dory.” Rather, over and over, I see God working out his good plan through suffering:
- All but a few of the disciples were martyred for their faith in Jesus.
- Paul lived a life of hardship and persecution.
- Missionaries throughout the centuries have suffered, sacrificed greatly and even died for the sake of Jesus.
- Countless Christians around the world pay a heavy price for confessing Jesus.
Suffering isn’t something we need to try to escape as God’s children. It’s part of his good plan for us.
It is through suffering that we draw nearer to God, that we understand the transiency of this life, and it is through hardships and suffering that God receives glory.
There is no clearer picture of this truth than in the Garden of Gethsemane, the garden where Jesus went to be alone and pray before he carried the sin of all humanity to the cross. I think because of enormity of both Good Friday and Easter, we sometimes breeze past Jesus’ time in the garden.
Jesus said (paraphrasing), “Father if you can give me relief from what I’m about to suffer, let there be another way. But, if not, then your will be done!”
And earlier he says in John 12:23-28,
It was through the suffering and death of God’s precious Son that our lives have been redeemed from the power of sin and death.
My Savior’s embrace of suffering was what won my redemption.
And your embrace of suffering or struggles may be God’s way of pointing others to Jesus Christ.
Over the past few years, my prayers slowly (I’m stubborn, this took way longer than it should have) began to change. During the early years of foster care I wanted God to fix everything; to bring quick relief and bring back my comfortable, easy life. But that was not his will. He wanted to work something in my life, in our daughter’s life, in our family’s life that was achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs it all.
I’m not the same person I was four years ago. I’ve been brought to my knees and humbled before my Creator. My heart has been tenderized towards the reality of the broken and hurting in the world. My rosy dream that following Jesus would be wonderful and easy has been replaced by the heavy reality that it may be a road filled with many troubles and hardships on the way. But, through the trials he has drawn me closer to himself and given me a more heavenly perspective.
Can you imagine how differently our trials would be if we walked through them praying for perseverance and faith, asking God to glorify his name in our lives, rather than crying, pushing back and asking God to take the hardship away?
We don’t need less suffering, we need more perseverance.
I know each of you have struggles you are wrestling through. There are things that may seem too overwhelming to bear, just like Jesus as he felt overwhelmed at the point of death in the garden. But, sisters don’t fight back. Don’t believe the lies that God doesn’t love you or that he has forgotten about you. Don’t doubt that he can’t use this messy situation for his glory in your life.
He is doing something, something eternal.
Stand in it.
Pray for the perseverance to weather the storm.
Be like Jesus and pray, “Not my will but yours be done. Father, glorify your name!”