Sunday, November 29, 2009

Conflicted Thankfulness

One year ago today, we took a phone call right as we were ready to leave the house for Bible study and learned that our application had just been accepted that afternoon by All God's Children International . . . our adoption journey had officially begun!

Five months ago today, we met a certain little curly-top in Ethiopia, and what a difference he has made in our life since!

As we reach the end of this Thanksgiving weekend, I have so many different feelings vying for attention in my soul. I feel overwhelmed by thankfulness for so many things - my son, our family and friends, and most of all for Jesus and His faithfulness in our lives. Thanksgiving has always been such a warm, relaxing time for me - surrounded by lots of people that I love and more food than we could possibly need. I still had those things this year, and on top of that, we had the pleasure of introducing our little boy to the last of our immediate family members, (since David's brother and his family were visiting from Georgia) and yet the holiday was bittersweet. For the first time, I actually have close ties to a starving person. I've never met her, but Mihiret is on my mind almost every day. How is she doing? Is she still living? How has life changed for her since June 5th - the last day that she saw Yikealo? Does she think about him every day and wonder how he is, or is life so difficult that just surviving takes everything that she has to give? Does she feel guilty that she was unable to care for her own flesh and blood, or does she feel relieved that he has a chance at life that is far beyond what she could have offered?

Now, take all of those conflicting feelings that I imagine this one woman has and multiply them millions of times over. I feel so much sadness for her - and she is just one of the millions upon millions of hurting people that God loves intimately. There is so much pain and heartache and poverty in this world - so much loss felt by so many people - and God knows each one of them. He knows everything that they feel, everything that they do without, and he knows His plans for them. He loves them so much that He died for them, and wants to claim each soul as His adopted son or daughter. I understand a little of the love that someone can feel for an adopted child - quite frankly, I do not believe that anyone could love a biological child more than I love Yikealo - and yet my love is just a tiny fraction of the love that God has. What level of pain does the Creator feel as He looks down on His hurting children and sees their troubled lives? What does He think when those of us who openly call ourselves His people ignore the plights of our brothers and sisters around the world? Proverbs 24:11 and 12 tells us that we will be held responsible if we do not help those who are near death. We will not be able to make excuses by saying that we did not know, because the same Father who knows the hurting can see into our hearts as well.

So what does thankfulness for God's blessings really mean to me this year? What is He calling me to? What do I do next with the gifts that He has given? I have been convicted lately by a blog that I discovered from a friend's site, and I would encourage you to read the August 26th post at Let God open your eyes further to the sorrow that He feels, and then ask Him how He plans to use you to bring hope to someone else. I am continually amazed at how many layers there are to my selfishness, and it's a painful thing to dig in deeper and learn more about my humanity, but I thank God that He still wants to show me more of Himself, because I am nothing without Him. There is always a part of me that wants to shut down somehow when confronted with the hurts of others, to concentrate on my nice, safe, comfortable life. I am trying to stay open instead ... open to God's heart, open to where He wants me, open to His plans for me, open to the hurt and the pain of the world.

Michael Card says it better than I could in his song "Fellow Prisoners":

I was a prisoner, but you never came,
I was naked, hungry, and so cold,
I was frightened, I was suffering,
But the torment was I suffered all alone.

Remember then the brothers who are suffering.
Remember that your sisters are in pain.
For some of them the sun of hope is setting.
For others it will never rise again.

The chains can't bind the hopefulness,
and the bars can't block the means of grace,
and the distance that might separate
Cannot defeat the prayers that we might suffer in their place.

After all these could be your own children dying.
Your wives and mothers, your husbands and your sons.
We must weep the tears that they are crying,
In prayer we take our stand beside them,
So they won't be alone.

So fellow prisoners, remember, that we may know captivity,
But there's a purpose in the calling
For it is the LORD who sets the prisoners free.

After all, these are your children dying.
They're your wives, your mothers, your husbands and your sons.
We must weep the tears that they are crying.
In prayer we take our stand beside them
So they won't be alone.

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