So here we are again. Another court date, another disappointment. After two “miscarried adoptions” in Uganda and Guatemala and three failed court dates in Ethiopia, it’s hard not to feel cursed. We certainly feel no optimism about passing our next court date, even though we are told there should be no problem, which is what we were told before this court date…and the one before that…and the one before that. Right now we are facing each court date just bracing for disappointment. Our hearts are hurting, and it’s not very fun. But in all this disappointment and doubt, there are some things that we still believe, and among them are:
(1.) GOD IS NOT DOING THIS TO US. A dangerous doctrine is often believed in evangelical circles, and that is the idea that “everything happens for a reason.” I believe that is absolutely false, just as I believe that God does not give kids cancer or cause serial killers to rape and murder. We serve a sovereign Lord who has complete authority over His creation. However, God is not a puppeteer divinely ordaining ever minute detail of life on earth. He established order in nature with laws that govern it and gave man a free will and moral laws to accept or reject. It’s possible that God torpedoed our adoption from Guatemala, but it’s more likely that the inept court system in Guatemala failed to properly document the children we were trying to adopt, and widespread greed and corruption led to child trafficking, and the government shut the system down. It’s possible that God caused a delay in our adoption in Ethiopia, but I believe it is more likely that an illiterate man’s name was spelled wrong on an ID card and someone on a power trip took advantage of an opportunity to exercise authority over some foreigners. If you are a friend seeking to encourage us, please do not try to offer reasons why God might be causing our delays – “What if there was going to be a plane crash, and you avoided it because you were delayed” or “God must have wanted the girls to be in the orphanage a little longer” – if God does have a reason, He probably did not send you the memo. That may seem harsh, but we have received enough "words from the Lord" from well-meaning folks who were clearly mistaken about their source. Please spare us the platitudes and cliches - in some situations there is no explanation, and there just isn't anything that needs to be said. Church friends are fond of saying “God knows what He’s doing.” That’s true of course, God does know what He is doing; but we don't believe that He is "doing this to us" in the first place.
(2.) GOD WILL USE THIS SITUATION IF WE LET HIM, AND WE TRUST HIM TO DO SO. Paul wrote that “IN ALL THINGS God works for the good of those who love Him”…that means that no matter the pain, no matter the disappointment, God can redeem it and use it if we let Him. James tells us that, if nothing else, these trying times will teach us patience. It's no fun, but God will find purpose in pain that has no purpose. When Shadrach, Meshach, and Obednego were about to be thrown into the fire, they said, “We believe God can save us, we believe God will save us, but if He doesn’t, we’re going to praise Him anyway.” God will be worthy of our praise whether He intervenes the way we'd like Him to or not.
(3.) ADOPTION IS GOD’S PLAN FOR OUR FAMILY. From before we even knew each other, both of us felt what we believe is a God-given desire to adopt. We want to be advocates for adoption and encourage fellow believers to provide loving homes to precious children who do not have one. Unfortunately, our adoption story has not been much of an enticement to adoption, and we fear that rather than encouraging adoption, our troubles have discouraged others from ever considering it. But our frustrations and difficulties do not change the fact that there are 143 million orphans in the world and thousands of children in our own country who need loving families to take them in, caring for the “least of these” as God commanded us. We cannot leave the needs of the orphaned and abused up to the Red Cross or UNICEF. We are the people of God, and His children need us. That fact reminds us that it is not about us or our pain - after all we’ve gone through, we believe even more that God wants to use us (and the church at large) to redeem these lives from destruction. If this is a spiritual battle, we will be more than conquerors through Him who loved us – our Heavenly Father who first adopted us. By His grace we will not be defeated.