Joy. My word for 2016 was joy. God has an odd sense of humor sometimes…
Little did I know all that I didn’t know about the meaning of joy. At the time that I chose this word we were fostering a 4 month old boy (“K-man”) who had very quickly stolen our hearts. See, my husband and I have not been able to conceive naturally, and through much prayer we decided to pursue adoption through foster care. We had already fostered 2 children prior to K-man, and my heart had never been in such a raw place.
By the time the New Year came around, we pretty much knew that K-man would be reunited with his biological family, but that didn’t stop us from loving him fiercely. By the time he was removed from our home to be with his family he was 8 months old. In the grand scheme of things 8 months can seem pithy. But those were some of the fullest, yet challenging months I’d have ever experienced.
You never think that you’ll be the girl who can’t get pregnant. At least I didn’t. I was always babysitting and dreaming of opening orphanages so I could take in all the forgotten babies in the world. But what do you do when you give all you’ve got to a little person who eventually leaves? How do you reconcile feelings of betrayal and oppressive sadness in the light of a good Father who you know truly loves you, despite your feelings?
Joy. When I chose this word I hadn’t yet experienced the depth of the above emotions. I had no idea that I was going to have to discover the meaning of this word amidst the hardest season of my life. After 30 years of serving the Lord, I still unknowingly looked for joy in my circumstances. I still craved those “surpsingly upbeat” feelings to surround my emptiness.
Psalm 66:10-12 says this:
“For you, God, tested us;
you refined us like silver.
You brought us into prison and
laid burdens on our backs.
You let people ride over our heads;
we went through fire and water,
but you brought us to a place of abundance.”
Abundance. Joy. It was all starting to come together. I spent a few months slowly unraveling, trying to navigate my grief over K-man leaving. But through all of it, God was leading me into a place of abundance.
2 months ago another little love entered our home. Still trusting God to help us pick up the pieces of our broken hearts, we said yes to caring for this 2-day-old baby girl. We found out some disappointing news about her situation a few weeks ago, which derailed me honestly. I struggled with God’s goodness, His love, and His plans. I couldn’t believe that God was going to bring me into so much pain again. But that Sunday I found myself singing a song about Jesus rising from the dead; about the incredible and overarching power of God. I was brought to my knees not only in humility, but in complete and utter sorrow for how I had been thinking. My grief was one thing, but to not trust God was another. I was desperately searching for joy through the words of a case worker or in the arrival of a baby girl. My joy was constantly being diverted to things/people/circumstance that can change at the drop of a hat. My husband had encouraged me to find joy in God alone, and I had dismissed him with a frustrated “how!?!”.
Yet here I knelt. At the feet of Jesus, being overtaken by His grace, and yes, His joy. What joy filled my heart! The fate of this little girl is still unkown. How God will begin to grow our family is a mystery. But I am at the beginning of a wonderful and freeing adventure. Because though we feel as though God himself has placed burdens on our back (and, in His sovereignty, He very well may have!), we will not be broken. He leads us into abundance. Into an abundance of grace. Into an abundance of strength. Into an abundance of joy.
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