Heartache is nearly a pre-requisite on the foster care/adoption journey.
You probably know already that no foster care or adoption story is without loss or grief … and not only for the child. Maybe you’ve experienced—
Loss of a dream
Inability to bond
Or maybe you have no idea why you’ve struggled as much as you have with the child God has placed in your family.
So how do we accept our assignment and embrace our calling to care for children in need despite the pain? We do it—in part—by reframing our perspective of grief.
One quick distinction: Loss is what we experience; grief is what we feel. This isn’t an invitation to see your loss as a gift—but it is an opportunity to consider the way you respond to it.
Here are 7 ways to see grief as a gift —
1. Adamantly refuse the lies of the enemy.
We must get really clear on who the enemy is on this journey. It is not your child, the birth parents, or your social worker. It isn’t even “the system”—as frustrating as it may be sometimes. The enemy on this journey is the same enemy who’s been telling lies since the Garden of Eden. It has been Satan’s plan since the beginning of humanity to whisper lies in our ears that have the power to turn our hearts away from God.
The hard, painful things in this life are the persistent side effects of a broken world.
Some lies from Satan: Nobody understands. You’re not worthy. You can’t do this.
2. Relentlessly believe the promises of Scripture.
The battle against discouragement on this journey is a battle to believe the promises of God. It is vertical Truth, after all, that enables us to take horizontal risks..
One of the greatest vertical truths that we have—though sometimes misunderstood—is Romans 8:28, “And we know that for those who love God, all things work together for good, for those who are called according to His purpose.”
Notice it says “We know,” not “We understand.” We have no assurance that we’ll understand every painful circumstance in this life, but we have the promise that it will all work out.
3. Boldly claim the guarantees of grace.
Some of the worst things we hear on the journey are the things we say to ourselves—
I’m not a good enough parent.
I have more failures and weaknesses than anyone else.
I can’t do this.
But there’s a big difference between self-conviction and the conviction of the Holy Spirit. When God convicts us, He points out specific sin— “You shouldn’t have yelled at your child,” or “You should have been kind.” Self-conviction, on the other hand, is defeating. Self-conviction says, “You’re a failure,” or “You never get it right.”
When God convicts, the goal is repentance and restoration. When we convict ourselves, the goal is condemnation..
4. Carefully discern the messaging of secularists..
Typically speaking, in the secular view, suffering is never viewed as anything but a painful interruption. But if we read the Book of James, for instance, we know that suffering is so much more. “For you know that the testing of your faith produces endurance” (James 1:3).
We must trust that God cannot be anything other than good … even when our circumstances don’t feel good.
5. Regularly rehearse the pattern of provision.
Talk to families who are adopting and it won’t take long to hear stories where God met specific financial needs at precisely the time a fee needed to be paid. Maybe you have an incredible story of God’s financial provision.
The good news? God met your greatest need in Christ and will meet all your lesser needs.
“He Who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things?” (Romans 8:32)
The fact that God will meet your needs on this journey is as certain as your salvation. We honor God by believing His promises to provide.
6. Safely rest in the sovereignty of God.
Fostered and adopted kids—and their families—are not the exception to God’s good and perfect will.
Yes, there is pain. Yes, there is loss. But God is bigger and more powerful than all of that, and His holiness hinges on whether or not He will be true to His Word. And what does His Word say?—
“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope” (Jeremiah 29:11).
7. Truly savor the nearness of the Lord.
There is something unique about grief that has the capacity to push us toward—not away from—God if we let it.
The courage to face our grief in a healthy way doesn’t come primarily from having a better view of ourselves—it comes from having a proper view of God. Whatever you’re facing, He knows and He cares.
“The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit” (Psalm 34:18).
What if the hard things on this journey are being done for you and not to you?
If we do the 7 things listed above, our grief becomes a gift because those are the most important things we should be doing anyway. And unfortunately—in our fast-paced lives—sometimes it takes hard seasons and hurt feelings and heavy burdens to realize what matters most and let the rest fall away.
Bottom line: When we see our grief as a gift, it becomes a gift.
“Now, may the God of peace equip you with everything good that you may do His will, working in us that which is pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever” (Hebrews 13:21).