Two years ago, my wife and I began the process of adopting a little boy from Africa. We’ve nicknamed him KJ, and he is beautiful. He’s not home with us yet, but not a moment goes by, where our thoughts are not on him and bringing him home as fast as we can. Each night when we put our 4 year old Justice to sleep, we finish our prayers with “…and please bring KJ home soon”. If it only were that simple.
International adoption is a very complicated thing. There are lawyers, social workers, judges, and government offices from two countries involved. Aside from the paperwork and the actual process of adoption, it would seem we have hit every conceivable road block on our way to this point. From simple spelling errors in legal documents, to serious issues dealing with government court systems. Add on top of that, KJ getting malaria and on another occasion having to have surgery to remove his tonsils. This road has not been smooth and straight. My wife has been brought to tears more often then she deserves. One time Adrien was having a hard time, and as a few tears rolled down her face, Justice looked up from his toys and asked “Is mommy crying because of KJ?” I told him yes. Slapping his knee he said “Man that baby is hard to get!” He sure is Justice.
The financial burden of this process has been easily overshadowed by the emotional cost of the highs and lows. Last Friday we received some more bad news, worse news then we have gotten before. KJs government has decided to suspend all adoptions for up to 12 months, to investigate if they are going to continue allowing international adoptions to occur.
Hearing that news was like getting kicked in the gut. Instantly demoralizing. I was angry. Not again, not another hurdle. We have come too far, invested too much for this to happen. I wanted to blame someone, find someone to hate on. To be real honest, I wanted to break something.
Those feelings were quickly interrupted by a moment of clarity. A realization whole week before this news, God had been preparing me to hear it. I had been getting songs together for that Sunday’s worship service, and spending time praying and reading the bible, and the theme that had been developing for the worship service, was to pray for faith.
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.
God wasn’t telling me that everything was going to work out the way I wanted. He wasn’t showing me that my emotional needs were the most important thing. It was the opposite. That it’s not about me at all. That however this stuff pans out, I need to put my faith in him. I went on to lead worship that Sunday, shared my story, and as a result experienced the most honest and heartfelt worship I’ve had in a long time.
There’s a passage of scripture in 2 Samuel 24, where David is wanting to build an altar for God. He offers to purchase the land and materials from a man, who in reply tells David to take it all for free, no cost. It’s what David said next, that caught me off guard.
“I will not sacrifice to the Lord my God burnt offerings that cost me nothing.”
David was unwilling to go before his God, with an offering he had not earned. David knew something about worship, something that can be hard to find sometimes in our highly produced, often consumer driven worship services. That the best worship, has a cost.
What you and your family are doing to get this little boy and bring home is amazing! I imagine, from all I have heard and read about it, adoption is never easy but always worth it. Praying that you can bring that little boy home soon!! And no matter what, God has that little boy in His hands and God knits together our families, through biological children, foster care, adoption, etc and it will all work in His timing and for His glory. Praying for you and KJ. God bless you and your family for taking on this incredible challenge.
Those are kind words. Thanks Becky
What to do when you wake up feeling fragile.
There are mornings when I wake up feeling fragile. Vulnerable. It’s often vague. No single threat. No one weakness. Just an amorphous sense that something is going to go wrong and I will be responsible. It’s usually after a lot of criticism. Lots of expectations that have deadlines and that seem too big and too many.
As I look back over about 50 years of such periodic mornings, I am amazed how the Lord Jesus has preserved my life. And my ministry. The temptation to run away from the stress has never won out — not yet anyway. This is amazing. I worship him for it.
How has he done this? By desperate prayer and particular promises. I agree with Spurgeon: I love the “I wills” and the “I shalls” of God.
Instead of letting me sink into a paralysis of fear, or run to a mirage of greener grass, he has awakened a cry for help and then answered with a concrete promise.
Here’s an example. This is recent. I woke up feeling emotionally fragile. Weak. Vulnerable. I prayed: “Lord help me. I’m not even sure how to pray.”
An hour later I was reading in Zechariah, seeking the help I had cried out for. It came. The prophet heard great news from an angel about Jerusalem:
Jerusalem shall be inhabited as villages without walls, because of the multitude of people and livestock in it. And I will be to her a wall of fire all around, declares the Lord, and I will be the glory in her midst. (Zechariah 2:4–5)
There will be such prosperity and growth for the people of God that Jerusalem will not be able to be walled in any more. “The multitude of people and livestock” will be so many that Jerusalem will be like many villages spreading out across the land without walls.
But walls are necessary! They are the security against lawless hordes and enemy armies. Villages are fragile, weak, vulnerable. Prosperity is nice, but what about protection?
To which God says in Zechariah 2:5, “I will be to her a wall of fire all around, declares the Lord.” Yes. That’s it. That is the promise. The “I will” of God. That is what I need. And if it is true for the vulnerable villages of Jerusalem, it is true for me a child of God. God will be a “wall of fire all around me.” Yes. He will. He has been. And he will be.
And it gets better. Inside that fiery wall of protection he says, “And I will be the glory in her midst.” God is never content to give us the protection of his fire; he will give us pleasure of his presence.
This was sweet to me. This carried me for days. I took this with me to the pulpit. I took it with me to family gatherings. I took it to staff meetings. I took it to phone calls and emails.
This has been my deliverance every time since I was first marking my King James Bible at age 15. God has rescued me with cries for help and concrete promises. This time he said: “I will be to her a wall of fire all around, and I will be the glory in her midst.”
Cry out to him. Then ransack the Bible for his appointed promise. We are fragile. But he is not.
Recent posts from John Piper —
Thanks for the post Susan.
Thanks for the update. My prayers go out to you and your wife :that the sustainer of the world will continue to uphold and sustain you in this difficult time, and hold your entire family in His arms of love. May God’s good mercy be ever before you.
Thanks, those words are appreciated.
Praying for you and your beautiful family.