Saturday, January 7, 2012

Hard Knock Life

Sometimes I sing to myself.  I admit it.  When no one is around, I turn up the volume in my head and crank out the tunes.  When you are singing to yourself, you don't need backup singers and a band.  Today I had a little Broadway going on in the form of "Annie".   As I was singing the melody, I realized what words were coming out of my mouth.  Here are part of the lyrics:
"It's the hard-knock life for us, It's the hard-knock life for us!  'Steada treated, we get tricked.  Steada' kisses, we get kicked!  It's the hard-knock life.  Got no folks to speak of, so, it's the hard-knock row we hoe.  Cotton blankets, 'steada wool, Empty bellies, 'steada full, It's the hard-knock life.  Don't it feel like the wind is always howlin'?  Don't it seem like there's never any light?  Once a day don't you wanna' throw the towel in?  It's easier than puttin' up a fight.  No one's there when your dreams at night get creepy.  No one cares if you grow or if you shrink.  No one dries when your eyes get red and weepy.  From all the cryin' you would think this place's a sink.  Ohhhh.... Empty belly life... rotton smelly life... full of sorrow life.... no tomorrow life....Santa claus we never see.  Santa claus, what's that?  Who's he?  No one cares for you a smidge, when you're in an orphanage."  (There's more to the song, and I think it was written by Aileen Quinn, according to Google.)  Do you know how many times I've hummed that tune since I was a kid with no regard to what the song says?  Hundreds?  It makes me sad. 

All that to preface what I've been pondering the past few days.  Our adoption, again.  Surprise, surprise!  This week, a fellow adoptive family lost their adopted little boy to cancer.  They arrived home with him in March and right after that they found out he had leukemia.  He passed away this week.  Some of the things that go through your head when you hear about something like that are (1) grief (2) all that time spent for only a few months with their son? (3) all that money spent on the adoption to only hold him for a matter of weeks? (4) why?  Why?  The fact is we won't know why until we join him in Heaven. 

What if that's us?  Would it be worth it?  Is something so raw and painful and hard worth it? 

In Bloodlines, John Piper says, "Oh, how many people today-even Christians- would murmur at Jesus for callously letting Lazarus die and putting him and Mary and Martha and others through the pain and misery of those days.  And if they saw that this was motivated by Jesus's desire to magnify the glory of God, many would call this harsh or unloving.  What this shows is how far above the glory of God most people value pain-free lives.  For most people, love is whatever puts human value and human well-being at the center.  So Jesus's behavior is unintelligible to them."

Of course our painful lives are worth it  Worth it all if they are lived to glorify God.  But it's so hard to see it!

What does that look like in adoption?  It looks like the faces of these precious parents who spent money and time, flew half-way around the world, brought home a little boy, loved on him for months, then had to say goodbye.  The fact that he knew the love of a mommy and daddy for a short time brought glory to God.  The people in their family and community that are watching them deal with this loss are seeing God glorified. 

Who knows what the future holds?  God does.  Who knows what circumstances He will let us go through to bring glory to the only one whom it is due?  God does. 

When I was thinking about homeschooling a few years ago, I read many books on the subject.  I talked to many people.  This may sound silly, but one of the books that had the most affect on my decision was not a homeschooling book at all.  It was a fictional story that my Aunt Dee lent me to read.  I still have it (sorry, Aunt Dee).  I have read parts over and over because they were so profound.  The book is called Seasons Under Heaven, by Beverly LaHaye and Terri Blackstock.  It's about a group of women who live on the same street and what they go through in their lives as they struggle to figure out how their lives are supposed to bring glory to God.  Get the women from the "Desperate Housewives" series out of your head, because these women are not desperate in the way the world sees them.  They are desperate for God. 

One of the moms in the book is a homeschooling mom.  Her son was waiting for a donor heart and was in the hospital.  She shares the fact that she looks at her children like the Parable of the Talents.  Here are some quotes, so you can see what I'm talking about:

"So many people just keep looking to the future," Brenda went on.  "They think, 'Someday my kids'll grow up and I'll be happy.'  And others look back and think, 'If only my kids were home again, I'd be happy.'  And some think,'If I could just do this or be that, I'd be happy.'  But it's funny how they're never very happy.  Even Christians," She said, as if that surprised her. She looked down at Tory.  "But you know what?'  .......
"I've been happy.  God's given me these four children, and I've invested them.  They're my life's work.......We've got these little human beings in our hands, and it's our job to raise them up in the way God wants them, so that when He comes back for them, we can say we invested them wisely.....
"God may take Joseph back today",  Brenda went on, "But if He does, I'll know that I gave Joseph all I had.  I invested him wisely.  If he grows to be an adult I've prepared him to be a godly man.  And if he doesn't I think God will be happy with what I did for him, anyway."

That's what I want.  With any children.  With all of my children.  To invest them wisely.  There are lots of people I know going through difficult time with their children, and they want to be able to hear, "Well done, good and faithful servant" someday in regard to their kids.  There are no perfect parents. 

We are not promised 75 years with our children.  I have not lost a child yet.  I hope and pray I never will.  But I don't know the road God has called me to walk in the future.  With the children we have now or the children we will someday bring home. 

One of my favorite parts of the book, Seasons Under Heaven, talked about entrusting your children to God.  Brenda is speaking again.  "Sylvia said something to me that I've tried to remember ever since.  It is that all of the blessings we have come from God.  That means our children, too.  We try to hold them in clenched fists, and think they're ours.  But she reminded me that Joseph belongs to God, not me.  I've been entrusted with him for a while." Her mouth trembled as she got the words out.  "But I have to hold that blessing in an open hand, because God could take him back at any time.  He has every right to.  Joseph's not an object to be bargained with, and God loves him even more than I do."

Isn't that hard to comprehend?  That God could love your child more than you do? 

So whatever road we walk in the future, we will walk with Jesus leading the way, bringing glory to God the Father.  Tonight I am praying for my friends that have lost little ones.  That they will know the God of comfort and peace.  Jesus is our peace.  May He be yours, too.

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