May the God of hope fill you with all joy, and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. -Romans 15:13
Helloooo, 2020!!! I’ve been impatiently awaiting your arrival. 2018 was challenging. 2019 will take a lot of time to process (therapy might be useful). I couldn’t write about New Years stuff in January, the time for such posts. Yes, I know I’m late to the party. My heart was still pink and tender and I wasn’t ready to talk about hopeful things, happy things, joyful things, abundant things. I don’t do resolutions, but every year I write a letter to God about my hopes and dreams for the new year. I look forward to it in December. I love a fresh new year letter, but I couldn’t even do that. Instead, I wrote how my heart was bruised and battered and still hurting and still confused. I’m processing. And I suppose this post is part of that.
Every January, I wait for the Lord to lay a word upon my heart for the year. I’ve been doing this for five years now and I love looking back on this Ebenezer of words to see what God has taught me and my family, and what he has brought us through. Here’s a snapshot of my past years and words (I record these in my Bible annually):
- 2016- Discipline
- trained for and ran a marathon
- became more disciplined in reading and listening to the Word of God
- overhaul on shopping habits
- read the Bible every day
- read the entire Bible cover to cover
- became obedient in the stewardship of our money (cheerfully giving and debt paid off)
- submitted to the leadership of my husband
- resigned from teaching
- sacrificed my idol of independence and pride
- answered the call to adopt
- Impossible to contrive in a list
Actually, for the majority of the year in 2019 I had no clue what my word was. By March, I was convinced my “word” was “I don’t know,” as that seemed the common response to every single question I was asked and every single question I asked, myself. How long will you be in Oklahoma? I don’t know. When will you get approval from India? I don’t know. How much time does she have left to live? I don’t know. How long will you be in Oklahoma this time? I don’t know. What’s making Clara sick? I don’t know. When will you be matched? I don’t know. What are you doing about church? I don’t know. What school will she go to? I don’t know. What will you do when she goes to kindergarten? I don’t know. Will you go back to teaching? I don’t know. When will your baby come home? I don’t know. What do you want to do with your life? I don’t know. How many more loved ones will die this year? I don’t know. What will you eat for dinner tonight? I don’t know. Chickfila?? It wasn’t until September that the Lord revealed to me my word was “Faith,” which looked a whole lot like “I don’t know, but I’m going to trust in Him, anyway.” And that’s what I did, we did. My little family clung to our faith that the Lord had a plan for us, even in the hard. And he saw us through the grief and the long waiting of 2019.
Waiting for our baby is like:
A shiny longing
Spottings of doubt
Desperate phone calls
Out of control
Strangers and friends toss flippant reassurances
Cheery speeches. Rehearsed. Given. Repeated. And again.
A throat closing in
Aching open hands
Settle, be still
Start living again
We often get asked about our adoption wait, and we love an opportunity to talk about our child and seek prayer. But it’s not always easy. It actually involves a confusing conundrum of feelings. We want to be asked and to know that our friends and family haven’t forgotten, but at the same time it’s like asking a couple who’s been trying to conceive for almost two years if they’re pregnant yet. If anything, this whole waiting experience has helped us to empathize with other people in times of waiting better. We’ve learned to be sensitive, to focus on questions that check-in with the heart instead of the situation, to listen, to pray with them, and not offer cheerful “encouragement” in the midst of their pain, but to sit with them in it until they are ready to stand up.
Jeremiah 29 has been an anchor to my soul over the past year and a reminder of how to love others well through their difficult times. “I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future…” Jeremiah 29:11 So often this verse is taken out of context. It’s used by man to encourage and pump people up or even to perpetuate the prosperity gospel, that if one just has the right amount of faith and a tablespoon of prayer and a cup full of naming n’ claiming that they will be protected from all bad things and be healthy and prosperous. People using this verse from the prophecy of Jeremiah in this way are not reading the rest of the Bible. In this sin-sick world, the righteous experience injustice; the poor are plundered; children starve; wars rage; cancer abounds; and e.v.e.r.y.o.n.e. dies. God doesn’t promise that hard things won’t come, but He does promise to be with you and near you and beside you and to fight for you and to carry you when they do. In fact, the Lord gives this promise to the exiled Israelites in Jeremiah 29 right after pronouncing that they will have seventy more years of being exiled. Context is everything. God is interested in the end game, in the refining of our hearts and the renewing of our minds. Maybe if we kept reading after Jeremiah 29:11 we would glimpse this masterful plan. “Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back from captivity.”
2020 is here and the Lord has laid on my heart that this is the year of Abundance. In just one month, He has brought clarity to unanswered questions, peace to my impatient heart, and wisdom to our family to make big decisions that have been weighing in the balance for months and months. He has also brought new lifegiving friends and fellowship with other Believers. He’s bearing much fruit in our family. We are not the same people we were a year ago. As the bulbs begin to poke through and chartreuse leaves unfurl, I sense a spring in our family’s spiritual life, too. A growth and renewal, a reawakening from the dark year where we’ve had to cling and cry out to the only Rock and Foundation of our faith. We may not bring our baby home this year. We may not even be matched by December of 2020. But this year is different because, like the Lord gave the Israelites, He’s giving us hope. And a future. And I just can’t wait to see what else He has in store for us.