Prayer – To Those Who Wait

This post is a part of our Orphan Awareness Month series in November 2014 to advocate, educate, and spark discussion about topics relating to adoption and orphan care.  To check out the other posts in the OAM series, click here.

 

In the adoption/orphan care world, November is an important month.  The first Sunday of November is known as Orphan Sunday, a day of building awareness, advocating, and prayer for the millions of orphans worldwide.  The rest of the month is known by a couple titles, such as National Adoption Month or Orphan Awareness Month.  It’s basically an extension of Orphan Sunday, and is embraced as a time to do many of the same things – advocate for orphans worldwide, educate others about how they can make a difference, and pray for not just orphans around the world, but those involved in the orphan care movement as adoptive families, advocates, etc.

This month, we will be largely focusing on these topics and I would like you to invite you to be a part of it.  Maybe you are an adoptive parent thanking God that your little one is living under your roof and no longer in an orphanage half a world away.  Maybe God has been stirring your heart to adopt, but you haven’t taken the leap yet.  Maybe circumstances keep you from pursuing adoption, but you’re interested in learning how else you might be able to fulfill the calling of James 1:27.  Or, maybe this is totally new to you and mostly you just have questions about the complicated and sometimes controversial topics wrapped up in these heavy issues.

Wherever you fall on the spectrum, I hope that in one way or another, this month opens your eyes, moves your heart, and equips your hands to make a difference.

Because there are so many possible topics to discuss, I decided to give a little structure to this month to bring some focus:

On Mondays, we’ll focus on prayer – prayer for those involved on all sides of this topic, and suggestions for things to pray for throughout the week.

On Wednesdays, we’ll focus specifically on adoption – the issues facing adoptive families, how you can be a part of the support system, how to get started, etc.

On Fridays, we’ll focus on the bigger picture of the worldwide orphan crisis – the structural components feeding the problem, ways we can make a difference, and how even our daily choices effective this global issue.

 

Also, because we will be talking about more than just adoption, we’re refer to this month as Orphan Awareness/Advocacy Month (or, OAM).  It’s also possible that this whole plan will be thrown off because we will be finally traveling to our future non-orphan this month, so we’ll just play it by ear!

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Today, though, we begin with prayer.  Specifically, I want to ask you to pray for those who are very near and dear to my heart right now: those who wait.

More than just about anything else, adoption is characterized by seasons (often long and repeating) of waiting.  This is truly heart-wrenching, because adoption has an almost magical way of wrapping up your heart and soul in the existence of a child (or children) who you have never met, who are thousands of miles away.  When the most precious parts of you are just out of reach, it can feel absolutely devastating, as if nothing else around you matters but getting.to.them.  The sad irony that something so emotional is combined with such periods of waiting is almost laughable, but not in a way any of us actually find funny.

What is worse is that very few stages of the waiting processes ever have a tangible deadline in place, and this can make time feel like it … has … just … stopped.  Guys, I cannot even express how exhausting and mentally taxing it is to just daily exist in this type of waiting.

Long ago, I was on my school’s cross country team.  When we arrived at each meet’s location, we would always hop off the bus, drop our bags, and together walk the entire course.  The goal was to scout it out for hills, flat stretches, uneven ground, places to slow the pace for a breather and places to advance.  It was a strategy that every team enlisted – making a plan for the course.  I thought that this planning was the only real advantage to our pre-race walk of the course, until one particular meet when we arrived just in time for the gun to go off.

I don’t remember what caused us to be late, but it was the first time we didn’t walk the course.  The race started like any other.  It wasn’t like I had to worry about getting lost – the course was clearly marked and there was a huge crowd of runners to follow.  It was a little more challenging to not know what was up ahead like I usually would, but that wasn’t the most difficult part.  The course was the exact same length as any other course I had run, and I was in just as good of shape as every other meet, perfectly capable to run the race just like every other time.

And yet, I finished that race feeling like I just ran five times the distance I actually had.  Exhausted, hurting, and having thrown up twice on the run out of sheer tiredness.  Why?  Because so much of the race is mental.  Somehow, not knowing where the finish line was, or how much of the race was left, or if I had completed a half a mile? one mile? two? … that was far more devastating to my ability than any hill.  I was sure the finish line would be around the next bend, around every bend, and realizing again and again that it wasn’t messed with my head in a way that made it impossible to do well, or even do better than just getting myself through it.  Something about not knowing how far away the finish line was crippled my ability to do something I was fully capable of doing.

I just started reading a book about the history of the infamous Nazi death camp, Auschwitz.  It is one place we definitely plan to visit while in Poland, and as difficult as it is to read, I wanted to have an understanding of the place before seeing it with my own eyes.  One detail I read this morning really resonated.  In their earliest stages, before they became the death camps they are known as today, the first concentration camps were basically prisons for war criminals of all kinds.  One in particular was known for its ability to break inmates mentally, and their tactic was actually quite simple: they didn’t tell prisoners how long their sentence would be.

Describing this surprisingly easy mental torture technique, one of the leaders of the camp said: “The uncertainty of the duration of their imprisonment was something with which they could never come to terms.  It was this that wore them down and broke even the most steadfast will … Because of this alone, their life in camp was a torment.” (Auschwitz: A New History, Laurence Rees)

Of course, my experience sitting at home waiting for travel dates is worlds away from the experience of a prisoner, but the mental and emotional effects of unending, unpredictable waiting is something I am uncomfortably familiar with.  Just like me, those prisoners knew that their sentence would come to and end and they would be released.  In fact, the prison sentences were relatively short – about a year, on average.  And yet, something about not knowing when it would end was enough to drive countless prisoners to insanity long before their sentence was complete.

There are many types of waiting in the adoption world, and all bring their own unique brand of insanity.  As we begin this month of education, advocacy, and prayer, I would like us to begin by spending this week praying for those who wait:

  • For the spouse who feels a desire to adopt with every breath, but is waiting for his/her spouse to feel the same pull.
  • For those caught in paperwork delays that seem trivial to the outside world, but to this person represent yet another needless day their child is an orphan.
  • For those who have been matched with a child, and have a name and a face to fill their hearts and the picture frames in their homes, but are still months away from bringing him home.
  • For those who are in the painstaking phase of paperwork without a specific child’s name and face to push them forward when they want to quit.
  • For those who were so close to bringing a little one home, only to have something rip them away forever.
  • For those who have met their child, held him in their arms and kissed his cheeks, but had to say goodbye until the next trip.
  • For those who are waiting for family members and friends to fully embrace their adopted child as they would a biological one.
  • For those whose homes are full, but are waiting for a family to step up and claim a little one who they can’t get out of their head.
  • For those who are hoping no one else asks when they will be able to travel to their child, because they might crumble into a thousand pieces if they have to say “I don’t know” one more time.
  • For the older child waiting in an orphanage or foster home, afraid to look at the calendar and admit that it is unlikely that a family will ever come for her before she ages out and is left to fend for herself on the streets.
  • For the social worker overwhelmed by the emotional burden of a giant stack of files on her desk representing orphaned children compared to the much smaller stack of files representing willing families.
  • For the orphanage director who sees more children coming in than are going out, and wonders if what he is doing is worth it.
  • For the child on his best behavior when a couple comes to this orphanage to claim his friend as their son, because maybe if he smiles big enough and is as polite as possible, they will want to take him home too.
  • For the parents desperately waiting for their newly adopted daughter to break out of the walls built up around her heart from years of abuse, neglect, and abandonment.
  • For the millions of children who happened to be born into poverty, brokenness, abuse, or corruption, who don’t understand why no one has come for them yet, who can’t yet fathom that it is likely no one ever will.

For these, Lord, we pray.

 

Oh, my soul,
Wait upon the Lord.
Keep your lamp filled with oil.
Oh, my soul,
Be not deceived!
Wait for Him.
Don’t be quick to leave.

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