He Gives and Takes Away

“We bring nothing at birth;
we take nothing
with us at death.
The Lord alone gives and takes.
Praise the name of the Lord!”

Job 1:21

I’ve done a lot of thinking this week.  Thoughts about the risk/sacrifices of this journey in contrast to the blessings and encouragement that comes from it.  Most of this stems from a family I learned about less than a month ago—a family who were in the process of adopting from Ethiopia.  They had waited and been matched with a little boy.  As the time approached for them to travel and bring their son home, he fell ill and passed away.  They flew halfway around the world to Ethiopia not to bring their long-awaited son home, but to lay his tiny body in a grave.  I have had this family on my heart for weeks.  I have tried to imagine the long wait to be matched, the excitement and joy of getting the referral call and preparing a nursery, preparing to bring him home, only to have those dreams dashed to pieces by an illness easily curable in the states.  I’ve played devil’s advocate: How could this be God’s plan?  Why would He choose for a child and a family to suffer in this way?  There are, of course, no answers here on earth.  I can only trust that God is always good and even in the hard, unimaginable circumstances He is there.

This family’s story has reminded me that this choice (as with so many others in life) doesn’t come without its share of risk.  There will undoubtedly be heartache and there is a world of unknowns in this journey of adoption, but amidst the struggle there is life-changing joy and encouragement as well.

This week as I headed to the mail box, I found a card addressed to me.  It was Andy’s birthday, so I was a little surprised to find something for myself.  I opened the letter at the mailbox, and found a blessing inside.  It was a card from a dear friend from high school whom I see only once or twice a year.  In it were beautiful words of encouragement and a generous donation towards our adoption fees.  I stood at the mail box and cried.  It was an incredibly humbling moment.  I thought about the sacrifice this friend and her family were making to support us in this.  I thought about the difference between “spewing your faith” out for the world to hear and see (what I feel I often do) versus the quiet obedience that comes from a humble, generous heart of faith.  This gift was given purely out of selfless love, and someday I will tell our child of the way people loved them before they were even here with us.

photo (39)

In addition to the actual gift, the timing was perfect (isn’t it always though?).  As we prepare for the second set of large payments, we have felt the pressure of needing to sacrifice a little more the next few months in order to meet the legal fee requirements.  I don’t particularly enjoy talking about the financial side of this journey, but I will just say that Andy and I decided very early on that we would not do fundraisers for our adoption.  It is a personal decision, and I don’t intend to offend those who are fundraising by any means, but it didn’t feel right to us.  We knew that if we were willing to sacrifice, plan, and be good stewards that we could afford to make this decision.   This, of course, is why the surprising gift was all the more of a blessing.

As I have contemplated the mountains and valleys this week, I long to see what God is going to teach us and show us throughout this process.  I’m sure He will give and He will take away, but I pray that, like Job, I can lift my hands to the heavens and say,

Praise the name of the Lord.”

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