There’s a very lengthy post I could write about all the things we’ve been learning this year, but instead I’ve decided to focus on one thing: grace. I don’t think I fully comprehended grace (and still don’t) until the hardships we have been through. The last few years, in particular, have brought me to a place of understanding, learning, and relearning the grace that has been extended to me. It has taken me over 20 years to feel like I’m beginning to scratch the surface on the grace I’ve been given to be alive.
One thing I love the most about Foster Care is it really makes you live out all the things you say you believe. You say you trust God? OK, well here is a child you will love and parent and bond to but could lose at any moment and you get absolutely no say in the matter. You say God is good? OK, let’s see how you feel when we threaten to move this child you love to a situation that does not seem to be in their best interest at all. There’s nothing like the threat of losing your kid to make you evaluate your faith.
I used to be very good at focusing on my sin and beating myself up for it. I am naturally very hard on myself. I can easily slip into the Pharisee-like mentality of I need to do XYZ to please God or earn his favor. I have never been self-aware enough, until recently, to recognize it but my eager-to-please personality led me to think of God as a being I could impress by being faithful. When I actually started believing that I deserve death for my sin (Romans 6:23), I started seeing EVERYTHING in my life as a gift I do not deserve. When I started understanding that I can do NOTHING to earn his favor, I became freed of my expectations for myself (Ephesians 2:8-9).
Again, these are simple truths most Christians learn and possibly comprehend at the beginning of their faith. I would have always said I knew and wholeheartedly believed these things, but looking back my actions and motivations didn’t reflect that. I still would sometimes try to manipulate God by spending more time with him in hopes that he would be pleased with me instead of spending time with him because I’m just dying to spend more time with him.
Once I began to start really believing everything in my life is a result of a gift I did not and could not earn, I have had a much harder time questioning God’s goodness and plan. Here’s how this truth has manifested in our lives through foster care: we have had to face the sobering reality that we may lose one of our children and lose her to circumstances that do not seem to us like they would be good for her. Since I started believing that I did not earn anything on this earth, all I can do is be thankful. How can I question why God would take one of our kids from us when we never deserved to be her parents in the first place? We haven’t deserved one single moment with her and yet we have been given now 15 whole months! I am truly in awe of that as I write this. I can’t believe how kind he has been to us to let us know her this long. Every time we have faced the threat of her removal our initial (and very normal) reaction is sorrow but it quickly turns to praise because we honestly believe we have not deserved to know her in the first place. When you look at life through the lens of grace, it is hard to sit in sadness for very long. There is just always so much to be thankful for and so much hope for the future it’s overwhelming.
Just think if we were always able to look at life like we don’t deserve any of it. All of a sudden, all things become a miracle, because they are!
I hesitate to write stuff like this because if you are currently going through suffering, I am in no way trying to make light of your pain. I have not experienced a lot of the different kinds of sufferings that are present in our world, but I do know that no matter what your suffering is, God is good. You can trust him. God is there in your hurt. He sees you, he loves you, and he is close (Psalm 34:18).
In 2018 we found a more complete understanding of grace, and we have hope for 2019 that we will see the Lord’s goodness as he works out all things for our good (Romans 8:28). If we were to get to adopt our youngest child, we would like her middle name to be Grace. Kameron’s middle name is Hope because of Romans 15:13. In 2019, we HOPE to adopt two amazing little girls, and if we do not get to, we have HOPE that God’s plan is way better than anything we could come up with.
It’s so exciting that the Lord gives us hope for a brighter future, we know that there will be days to come where suffering will no longer exist. “He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away” Relevation 21:4. How we long for that day, Lord!
This is a small list of scripture related to this topic. If I were to try to list every relevant scripture, this post would be ridiculously long.
Isaiah 46:4- “‘Even in your old age and gray hairs I am he, I am he who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you.'”
Isaiah 48:17- “‘I am the Lord your God, who teaches you what is best for you, who directs you in the way you should go.'”
Isaiah 49:23- “‘Those who hope in me will not be disappointed.'”
Isaiah 55:8-9- “‘For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, ‘ declares the Lord. ‘As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.'”
Psalm 31:19- “Oh, how abundant is your goodness, which you have stored up for those who fear you and worked for those who take refuge in you, in the sight of the children of mankind!”
Romans 6:23- “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Ephesians 2:8-9- “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.”
Psalm 34:18- “The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.”
Romans 8:28- “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.”
Romans 15:13- “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.”