It has been way too long since I took time to do a post (notice my avoidance of the word “blog”). I often think of things I would like to write about during the course of the day, some funny, some sad, etc. Or I have something that makes me VERY angry and I want to write about that, but by the time I get the opportunity to do so, I’ve already ranted to Will and let off enough steam that I don’t feel the need to write about it anymore (thanks honey).
Anyway, there is one consistent theme coursing through my life at the moment, and really, it is a theme that occurs all of the time in of all of our lives…we may just not think about it as we should. Perhaps it isn’t so much a theme but rather the thread that weaves the themes of our lives together. God’s love. We hear sermons on it, we learn John 3:16 in Sunday school (or by reading the signs held up at various sporting events), but, at least for me personally, I don’t really think nearly enough about how much He loves me (us).
I recently finished reading a book by one of my favorite authors, Francine Rivers. She is a Christian fiction writer that started out as a secular author, and she is simply a terrific writer. The most recent book of hers that I read is Redeeming Love, a more modern twist (well, it is set during the California gold rush) of the story of Hosea and Gomer from the Bible (definitely modern when compared to that). The main characters of the novel are a prostitute named Angel and Michael Hosea (guess who he is in the story 🙂 ) and of course centers on his attempt to take her as his wife because God guides him in that direction. Anyway, I sometimes feel bad for saying this, but when a story is taken from the Bible and is enhanced by a Christian writer in such a way that stays Biblical and honors the true story it is based off of, it sometimes becomes so much more alive to me that it captures my attention in a deeper way. Perhaps that means I am not studying the Bible deeply enough. I’m working on that.
But to get back to my point, this is such an amazing story. It is beautifully written and I don’t think that it is solely due to pregnancy hormones that it made me weep. However, I didn’t just weep because it portrays God’s unconditional and redeeming love for us through the story of Hosea and the prostitute as representatives of Christ and the church (which is awe-inspiring in itself), but in this story, it speaks a great deal to the horrors of child prostitution as well as adult prostitution. WHY DO WE AS THE CHURCH NOT DO MORE REGARDING THIS ISSUE? I suppose that is another post.
Another question to ask then is this: “How does God’s heart not break over all the evil in the world?” I think the answer to that is that it does. His heart does break. His love for us is so great that He endures the consistent heartbreak of the suffering of those He loves so that His grace can be offered to as many as possible. He doesn’t take us all home with Him right this instant because His will is such that as many would come to know Jesus as Lord and Savior as possible. As the ultimate parent, He watches as His children struggle, enduring His own pain, knowing that those struggles play a large part in leading those children into who He has called them to be. His timing is perfect, and his patience with the evil in our world is unimaginable to our human minds. At least, it is to mine. But who knows suffering more than He does? He watched his son die on the cross, a death meant for us. Grace and love epitomized.
I suppose I write all of this because as I allowed myself to think about child prostitution in particular, I cried out to God, asking Him why He doesn’t just end this evil now and take His church home with Him… Why won’t He wipe out the wicked? As the tears subsided, I knew the answer was one that I may not necessarily understand, but that I have to accept. He loves us too much to alter His perfect timing, despite His oft-broken heart.
Another current circumstance has brought all of this to the forefront in my mind. A little boy I have worked with for 2 1/2 years as his therapist is on the verge of finally meeting a potential foster family. He has begun fully grieving the loss of the opportunity to return to his birth mother– even though she did not treat him well (an understatement but I will not go into the details nor should I), she is much more familiar and more comforting in the moment than the unknown. Those of us that love this little boy and have watched him grow up in residential care for far too long are watching him seemingly fall apart. His aggression towards the staff who care for him occurs off and on throughout the day, he is having trouble managing in school and regularly bursts out of the classroom in frustration, and he often is filled with so much emotion that he literally does not know what to do with himself. The Bible states that “A hope deferred makes the heart sick”. This little boy is living this quite literally. His is the essence of despair and hopelessness. Our staff are at a loss and are weary from regular struggles with this child. Sometimes, I confess, I have felt the same. He has been on my mind fairly endlessly lately. As I read my favorite verse in the book of Jeremiah the other night, chapter 29, verse 11: “For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, plans to give you hope and a future”, I knew the Lord was ministering to me about this little guy. The context of this verse is in reference to the Jewish people in exile in Babylon. The Lord is asking Jeremiah to tell them that after 70 years of exile (due to their continued idolatry and faithlessness), the Lord will allow them to return to Israel, and that He will bless them abundantly. I didn’t hear it verbally, but I heard it in my heart with full assurance, that God was telling me that it was my little guy’s time for hope and a future.
At the time, the family we had been planning to introduce to him had indicated they had cold feet and we weren’t sure if they were going to move forward at all. This was a terrible blow to me…one, because of what it would mean for an already hopeless feeling little boy that had been told he would be meeting a family within the next week (after hearing about meeting a family for a year while we waited for the courts to do their job and set him free), and two, because what was sustaining our weary staff was the promise that soon our guy would have a concrete family before him, an abstract promise fulfilled. Finding comfort in the Lord speaking to me through 29:11, I determined to lift it up and lay it down (as my mother would say), meaning that I needed to trust God despite the child’s current suffering and this difficult situation, knowing that He had a plan for this.
The day after reading this passage of Jeremiah, I had a phone call from this family telling me that they would like to meet with my little guy. We discussed the situation in length and I saw why God arranged this the way He did. One of my original concerns with this family was that they were overly enthusiastic and overestimating their ability to manage difficult behaviors from a very traumatized child. Through this painful process of waiting and wondering, I was given the gift of knowing that they are aware of their need for more training and are willing to learn, which is a rare and wonderful gift to be given in a foster family.
Even more important than this revelation, however, was the reminder of how much He loves us. He loves my little guy FAR MORE than I ever could, and despite this child’s current pain, God is going to make something beautiful out of it that will glorify Him and grow us to be more like Him.
How much He loves us.