Foster Care: Fostering Hope

For a couple of weeks now, our 12 yr-old (foster) son has been reminding us that the 26th marks a special day: our 6-month anniversary. It’s a little hard to believe that they came into our home on November 26, two days before Thanksgiving. What a journey it’s been … but all in all it’s been more a blessing than a burden. Even if you caught me on a bad day, I’d still say that. Because at the end of the day – not necessarily a real day, but in my thoughts and heart – that’s how I feel. I am blessed by these boys. And my desire is that we are not only fostering boys … but that we are fostering HOPE.


Oh, the blessings from the hand of God … the God of HOPE. The blessings come when I look in the smiling faces of three boys; receive their hugs; hear their words of appreciation for a meal or  when they say “I love you, Mama D”; when I hear voices from behind me in the car singing “Oh no, you never let go”; … and then when I hear from the other room their requests to Daddy B for bedtime prayer. There’s so much that is unknown when it comes to being a foster family, but this I do know:
I know that I’ve gained more than I’ve given.
I know that I’ve grown more than I’ve digressed.
I know that they smile more than they frown.
I know that God is able.
I know that faith can move mountains of shame, pain and neglect.
I know that if they discover Jesus, that their lives will change forever, wherever they go and whatever they do.
I know that there is hope.
Some days are much harder than expected… and we go to bed exhausted.
Some days are much better than expected… and we go to bed full.
 

As I conclude my month-long focus on foster care, my prayer is that the Church of Jesus Christ will actively care about foster kids. While I realize that the “fleshing out” of this action will be demonstrated in many different ways, as the Church begins to discover the needs of their community, it would be less than faithfulness if we did not strive to meet those needs and serve those people. Not everyone is to be a part of foster care by bringing children into their home on a regular basis. Certainly, though, the local church should take seriously the need(s) in their community and reach out with loving, merciful arms.

Jesus said something quite serious in Matthew that is often either overlooked or ignored:

Then the king will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or naked and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’

And the king will answer them, ‘I tell you the truth, just as you did it for one of the least of these brothers or sisters of mine, you did it for me.’

“Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you accursed, into the eternal fire that has been prepared for the devil and his angels! For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink. I was a stranger and you did not receive me as a guest, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’ Then they too will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not give you whatever you needed?’

Then he will answer them, ‘I tell you the truth, just as you did not do it for one of the least of these, you did not do it for me.’ And these will depart into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”

 
I do not comprehend fully what Jesus was telling us to do in these verses. I don’t have a list to check off as His follower. As I read other things He said, I do know that Jesus wants us to use what we have to serve and love others, and He wasn’t at all soft about our calling to die to ourselves. “But He turned and said to Peter, ‘Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to Me, because you are not setting your mind on God’s interests, but on man’s.’ Then Jesus said to His disciples, ‘If anyone wants to become My follower, he must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. For what does it benefit a person if he gains the whole world but forfeits his life? Or what can a person give in exchange for his life?
For the Son of Man will come with His angels in the glory of his Father, and then He will reward each person according to what he has done.”
 
It’s not popular or pretty, but it’s nearly impossible to deny that the New Testament emphasizes the crucified life of the believer. Living sacrificially is one of the ways we demonstrate we are of Christ … that we are His servants – living life for others. He never once said, no not once, that following Him would be easy or without suffering. He did say that the burden would be light if we allowed Him to love and serve through us, rather than attempting it in our own strength.
 
If it can be described at all, foster care is certainly bitter-sweet. But the bitter taste of today is short-lived. And the assured presence of Jesus brings sweetness … a forestaste of glory divine.
We are called to be ready to give the answer for the hope within us!! … We are to foster it in others.

So …

We do what we do because of what the Master did and said.
We do what we do because of what the Master does in and through us as we do it.
And we do what we do because of what the Master will say when we have done it for Him:
‘Well done, good and faithful slave! You have been faithful in a few things. I will put you in charge of many things. Enter into the joy of your Master!”

Everyday I am allowed to experience the joy of fostering … HOPE!

 

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