This is the place where we are have documented the road we have walked in order to adopt our four children from Brazil and the road we are now on as a family. We are keenly aware that adopting is not just a process we've chosen to go through, but part of God's plan for us and for our children. May He be glorified through the process and through our family!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Persistence

1Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up. 2He said: "In a certain town there was a judge who neither feared God nor cared about men. 3And there was a widow in that town who kept coming to him with the plea, 'Grant me justice against my adversary.'

4"For some time he refused. But finally he said to himself, 'Even though I don't fear God or care about men, 5yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will see that she gets justice, so that she won't eventually wear me out with her coming!' "

6And the Lord said, "Listen to what the unjust judge says. 7And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off?8I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?" (Luke 18:1-8, NIV)

After a weekend of answering a number of questions from the judge in Brazil and gathering more than a dozen letters of reference from our family and friends in record time, this parable kept coming to mind. I kept thinking, "isn't there a place in the Bible where a woman is seeking justice from a judge who won't give her an answer? Except the woman won't give in and keeps approaching the judge over and over again for that justice. And in the end the judge grants her plea, not necessarily because he wants her to have justice, but because he's tired of her bothering him!"

After searching out the reference and re-reading the parable, I can see that the situation Jesus describes isn't exactly parallel to our situation, but the story does have a number of things that are worth noting and have been an encouragement to me as I thought about them this week.
  1. This parable is first and foremost about the importance of persistent prayer. Luke says that Jesus' parable was told in order to show people "that they should always pray and not give up." What an encouragement at this time when Kim and I might be tempted to be discouraged about how long is has taken for the judge in Brazil to rule on our petition! Jesus' words remind me that, however I may be feeling about the situation, God still wants me to pray about it, over and over if necessary. And unlike the judge who gets fed up with the persistence of the widow, God never tires of our approaching him with our petitions and prayers.
  2. Parables are always interesting to look at because they teach a spiritual truth while telling an interesting story. And this story just so happens to be about a woman and a judge, which seems to make sense given our current situation! Though the widow in the story is seeking justice against her adversary and Kim and I are seeking a family, both of us have petitioned the court for something, and both of us have to wait upon that court for an answer.
  3. Though I am not at all suggesting that, as in the parable, our judge in Brazil doesn't "fear God or care about men," or that she is "unjust," the widow's persistence spoke to me. It was interesting that justice was granted for a seemingly selfish reason on the part of the judge: so that the widow wouldn't "wear [him] out with her coming." As we were putting together the package of information for her this weekend, I kept hoping that the answers we provided and letters we gathered would overwhelm the judge so much that she would see how much we love these children already and how much support we have from our family and friends, and that she would grant our petition. I hoped that she would see that we were willing, like the widow in the parable, to continue to wait upon her and petition her until we received an answer.
  4. At the end of the parable, Jesus brings it back to God and prayer: "will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night?" This statement about God's answering our prayers is in contrast to the act of justice granted by the judge in the parable. God listens to our prayers and grants our petitions out of love and grace, not out of exasperation of us approaching Him! But even in the context of the parable, I like to think about the way God might be working in our own situation. In the parable, God uses an "unjust" judge "who doesn't fear God or care about men" to do His will, namely provide justice for the widow. I am encouraged that God can use the actions of our judge in Brazil to carry out His will, regardless of whether she is a Christian or not (even though I pray she is!), and even regardless of whether she is sympathetic to our case (even though I hope she is!). Our persistent prayer is that God's will be that we are united with these children and that His hand move through the judge to make it so.
  5. This parable, as is so often, ends with a zinger, cutting close to the heart, piercing like an arrow! "When the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?" Whoa! This reminds me how important it is to continue to have faith and be persistent in prayer. We can say how much we believe that God listens to our persistent prayers, but if we don't persistently pray, we're not really practicing what we're preaching! (God help me to be persistent in my prayers and petitions to You!)
When it was suggested a few weeks ago that we might consider other referrals because of how long this was taking and not having received an answer from the judge, Kim's and my response was immediate and united: "absolutely not!" Though adopting four children was not something we had ever considered until God showed Maynara, Abraao Lucas, Luana, and Brayan to us back in March, through much prayer and many discussions, we felt compelled, yea "led," to petition the court to be their parents. And that is how we have felt ever since March/April when we submitted our petition. These are our children, and we will be persistent in pursuing them, in waiting upon the Lord with our prayers and the courts with our patience. After all, our heavenly Father continues to pursue us, even before we know him, until we are brought into His family! He sets such a good example, how could we possibly give up now!?

I had lunch with a good friend today and he was asking me about this adoption process. He was trying to find out how we were doing "waiting" and how we were staying so positive. My answer is simple, "If these are my children, then isn't waiting for them is the least I can do!" When I'm tempted to feel like "waiting" is a burden, I remind myself that they have been waiting for a family longer than I have been "waiting" for them. When we are united as a family forever, all of this time will feel inconsequential, I am certain. Since God is infinite, what are a few months for Him!?

Now to you, my loves, your Mom and I are persistent, and we will not give up on you. We will continue to pursue you, praying that God will bring us together as a family very soon. I can't wait to hug you all for the first time and all the 10 million times after that! Love, Dad.

God, hear my persistent prayer: that the judge see a family when she reviews all our papers, and answers, and letters; that she feel compelled to move quickly and grant the petition, and that it be soon, Lord; that things move smoothly as we prepare to travel; that we will be soon be united with the children You have had planned for us since the beginning of time. Amen.

3 comments:

Chris, Tammy and the gang! said...

Still checking in to see how progress is on your 4 precious children. Waiting is the least we can do but it can still be unbearably hard. God's strength will carry you through. I can't wait to hear the judge has said YES!

Take care,
Tammy
PEI

The Princess said...

Son, this is so beautifully written and insightful. I, too, have been thinking quite a lot about this parable and love what you have written. I can really identify with knowing the children God has for us because you and Will were the ones He had planned for me to have. Five times he let me hope and dream about the children I would have and twice he gave me the ones He knew would complete my life. Even through the long years and the two miscarrages between your birth and Will's I trusted God to answer my prayers. And what a marvelous answer He gave me. When you were little I began praying for the women who would be the wives of my sons even though I would not know them for many years. One day, I hope you will swell with pride when you see what amazing people your children will become. I am overwhelmed that God trusted me to your care.
I love you.
MOM
WOW

Rachelle, Mike, and David said...

This was my prayer for both of us today. Just wanted to share:

Lord, help us embrace the moments of our lives that are hard to get our arms around. Enable our eyes to see You in them. Help us to always acknowledge the abundance of Your goodness to us. I lift to You the deepest struggles in our lives. I trust You to open our eyes to see all You have for us in them. Reveal to us the fullness of it all. Thank you that we can be filled with the joy of Your presence in every step we take, because You have given us the light we need for whatever step we are on.

Psalm 138:3 In the day when I cried out, You answered me, and made me bold with strength in my soul.

(taken from Stormie Omartian's book--Just Enough Light for the Step I'm on)