We want to do this foster care thing well, and particularly well as people who follow Jesus. In showing up, we not only represent ourselves, but we also represent Jesus.
It is easy to get distracted, to get tossed around emotionally, and to start moving in the wrong direction. It’s easy to let our thoughts go towards someplace other than our key motivation in this whole thing: to share the light of Jesus in the midst of brokenness.
It is easy to let lies slip in. In doing so, we grow weary. We let discouragement set in. Oh, we didn’t set out like this; we set out with joy and eagerness. But some days feel like an uphill battle.
Do I really want to do this? Is it really worth it—to feel used and unheard? Is this the cost, and if so, am I really willing to pay that price?
There is a way back to the joy and eagerness, and we have a God who has shown us how. We can fight against the enemy and against our sin. We can stand on the promises that God has already set before us. Lies are battled with truth. We can have hope when it’s hard, because our truth remains steady, firmly rooted in our great God.
Our hope is sustained by the promises we believe and diminished when lies overtake them.
We must address the lies we believe and stand on the promises that God has already given us in his Word.
Here’s one lie worth addressing, and the promise needed to overtake it:
Lie: Trials are an interruption to the story God has written.
If only we could plan a little further in advance, this could be so much easier. Do things always have to come up at the last minute? If only we could get a clearer picture of where this case was headed, we would be better able to parent and work through big emotions with more language to explain. If only we could have a seat at the table when decisions are being made, this thing would work out way better. If only visits could remain consistent, I could create more space for my child to work out her big emotions.
When the Lord places something hard in our life, a trial of some kind, it’s easy to want out. I don’t want this trial. Lord, do you know what you are doing?
We don’t always see our trials as opportunities for growth, opportunities that the Lord planned purposefully, opportunities for us to learn something.
It makes me think of the book of James, which was writing to the twelve tribes who had been scattered, driven away from their homes because of their newly professed faith in Christ. In this, they had lost much—their homes, possessions, family, friends. They were forced into poverty. They were grieving the loss of their beloved leader, Stephen, who had been stoned. These Jewish Christians were facing hard circumstances.
Was this really what the Lord had for them when they were simply trying to follow him? If only they could be together with their fellow brothers and sisters, they could create serious change in the land for Christ. They could better serve others, if only they had a little more wealth. If they weren’t lowly, they could use their positions of authority to influence others towards Christ.
Didn’t the Lord know this? And yet, James writes to them, not wishing their circumstances away but encouraging them in their circumstances. He said, “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.”
Yes, their circumstances were hard. Yes, they were facing confusion, fear, loneliness, anger, sorrow, and poverty, but James’ message was to persevere.
When you’re facing something hard, there is hope. Our hope is not in trials being removed. It’s something better.
Promise: God remains constant.
God promises to be there with us, unchanging.
Schedules change, but God does not. Decisions are unpredictable. God is not. Biological parents may or may not make progress with their goals. God is always consistent.
James reminds these Jewish Christians, “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.” God is with us in the hard. He isn’t merely waiting for us to walk through valleys—deep or shallow—alone while he waits on the other side. He is there.
There is no place that the Lord cannot go. It is through the valley of the shadow of death that David says in Ps. 23, I will fear no evil because David knows that the Lord is with him. The Lord’s rod and staff comfort him.
We can’t get away from God’s goodness and mercy. They will always be there even when our hearts tell us otherwise. “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” (Ps. 23:6).
God is more committed to our ultimate joy than we are. We can trust him even if we don’t understand the means by which he chooses to accomplish his plans.
Hold fast to the promises of God, and He will sustain you through the hard.
There is hope in the hard because we are followers of Jesus. That relationship, that identity, shapes everything else. Our sustained energy comes when we are motivated by his worthiness. God will accomplish his plans as it relates to the children in our care—whatever those plans may be. He wants us to be in relationship with him, and he delights when our hearts are satisfied in him. He delights when we open our hearts and home to families so that we can showcase his goodness.
Stay focused on that mission. He is our hope in the hard. We must trust in the promises he has made.
Holly grew up with a heart for adoption but didn’t know much about foster care. God used an internship with a local child welfare agency to make her aware. Coupling that experience with knowing the joy of the Gospel, Holly is passionate about connecting the local church to the foster care community. Holly and her husband, Scott, were married in December 2013 and are enjoying the crazy adventure of life together.
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