Learn when it hurts
During the seemingly endless & excruciating 18 month wait for our Joshua to come home from a Ugandan orphanage, there were so many times when I felt forgotten by my Heavenly Father. It was so contrary to what I anticipated. I assumed that like our first adoption, I would be comforted and encouraged by His presence throughout the journey. I expected to feel the reward of peace for our obedience. I expected His mighty hand to move mountains to get my child home in a reasonable (if not record) time. I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that He had called us to adopt again. I was 110% convinced that He had knit together this specific child in his mothers womb with a purpose, a purpose that included calling me “Mommy”. I was confident that we were obeying God’s leading. And yet, month after month I looked around and saw virtually no movement, no sense of urgency, no apparent desire from anyone who could actually do something, to get my child safely home. I helplessly looked around and cried out “Why have you forsaken me? Why have you forsaken this child? Where are you Lord?”
During the first 12 months of our wait, my heart would leap with excitement if I got an e-mail or phone call from our agency. But as time went on, my excitement slowly turned into bitterness. I was aware of what was going on politically in Uganda, therefore I knew that any contact from our agency was just to say “hang in there.” After about 16 months, with no hope on the horizon, I felt like my heart couldn’t “hang in there” much longer. One day, after opening (yet another) discouraging e-mail from our agency, I quickly excused myself to my room, closed the door and wept bitterly face down on my bed. I felt the pain over my entire body. My soul was weeping. Within about two minutes of closing the door behind me, my 8 year old, Faith, came barging in to tattle on her little brother “MOM!!! Hank just… Mom, are you o.k.?” I tried to hide my face in the blankets, calm my breathing and compose myself. I had tried so hard to keep my anguish from my children. We often cried and prayed together over Joshua, but I kept my grave weeping private, even from my husband who I knew would feel consumed by helplessness if he saw me in such a state. I didn’t want any of my family to see “the mommy” wholly & completely undone, defeated and crushed. Faith came to the edge of the bed and asked “Mommy, are you sad because Joshy isn’t home yet?” “Yes baby.” I squeaked out “My heart really, really hurts to be away from him for so long.” She stood there in front of me at a loss for words. With my face still buried in my blankets, I felt her sweet little fingers stroke my hair. As I took deliberately large breaths, she broke the silence when she started praying over me. I could no longer breathe. She said “Dear Jesus, we have faith that you know what you are doing. And I know that you could have already had Joshy home if you wanted to because you can do anything. But I also know that sometimes you let us hurt because you want to teach us something that we can only learn when it hurts. Please help us to learn whatever it is that you want to teach us and then bring Joshua home super soon. I love you. Amen.” I lay there in awe of God’s incredible provision, in awe that my child was ministering to me, in awe of the wisdom, discernment and faith of this child, in awe that when she had no words to comfort me, she knew that the Great Comforter was always right there. I then realized, for the first time, that in this agonizing wait, He WAS showing Himself so tangibly to me.
After I semi-composed myself, I looked up at her sweet concerned face and I said “You know what, Faith? Joshua is still so young that he may not even know that he was once an orphan who now has an adoring family waiting for him to come home. Though, he may have a faint idea of who we are from the pictures we have sent him, we are not real to him right now. And because we are not real to him, he can’t possibly love us yet. But WE know that HE is real and we already love him desperately. We know specific details about him, we have his room and his clothes all ready for him, we pray for him every day, we miss him every second, we feel incomplete without him here, we yearn for him to be home with us where he belongs, we cry over his absence, and pray for the day he will finally be in our arms. You see, if nothing else, this painful wait for Joshua can teach us one thing. Now, we may know a small fraction of how God feels when one of his children are separated from Him. Some people don’t know God exists because they are just babies, like Joshua. Some may have actually walked away from him. And some people may not know He really exists until they are 40 or 80! And the whole time God knows every detail about them, He is yearning for them, preparing a place for them, making plans for them, wanting to share life together, desperately loving them, wanting them safely in His arms and safely on His path, and all the while He patiently waits for them to come home to Him.” And that is when my precious Faith said “Ya… but Mom, the real reason I came in here is because Hank pushed me.” … All I could do was laugh! Our God sure has a wonderful sense if comedic timing, doesn’t He?
Isaiah 43:2 & 5 say “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. Do not be afraid, for I am with you; I will bring your children from the east and gather you from the west.”
Fortunately our God is HUGE and I believe that he can handle our questions, our anger, our fear and our honest broken hearts. There are times when we all must walk through the fire, and many stages of the adoption process can cause us to cry out “why have I been forsaken?” And yet, even in our anguish, He is good…always! Our God can handle anything we can throw at Him and He uses “ALL things to work for good for those who love Him and are called according to His purpose”…even our heartache. He is good, He is real, He is love. Even when we endure pain so intense we think it will do us in, He holds each tear in His hands and carries us through the pain. I am learning how to cling to hope and believe in His promises, “for faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see” Hebrews 11:1
Heather and her husband Russ have been blissfully married for 15 years and are blessed to have their quiver full of 5 fabulously unique children. The first three came the old fashioned way and the last 2 through the blessing of adoption. Their first 3 were born in Oregon, child #4 was born in S. Korea and was adopted 5 years ago and child #5 was born in Uganda and was adopted a little over a year ago. Heather is a full time mom and part time home school teacher.