Saturday, February 13, 2010

Learning to Be Thankful

Everyone who read Kristie's post from last week knows what a hard time we had two Mondays ago as we attempted to apply for passports for our bio kids and to get our medical forms notarized at the doctors' office. If you have not yet read about this, you really should, partially because I am not going to revisit those events in detail, and partially because it is an excellent blow-by-blow account of how that day unfolded. I don't think that I have ever been through a day quite like that before, and even though it was extremely trying, I'm grateful that we went through it all. And that's not something that I would have said that Monday evening. Allow me to explain.

As the number of roadblocks continued to pile up, I became increasingly frustrated with the way that the day was going. It seemed that at every turn we were being prevented from accomplishing what we had set out to do, and I was getting angry. By the end of the day, I had became rather irritable and a bit withdrawn, convinced that my frustration was justifiable. Looking back over everything that happened, however, I don't think that it was. Monday wasn't the first time in the past few weeks that we have encountered opposition in our efforts to bring Mikaela home as soon as possible. The obstacles might have been more intense and more numerous on that particular day—though perhaps they seemed to be more intense because of how many things happened within those eight hours—but we had already been through several roadblocks by the time Monday morning dawned. In fact, we had to overcome a few more obstacles later in the week, and that got me thinking about how I was handling myself. As far as we can tell, the opposition that we have felt since we began Mikaela's adoption six weeks ago has been satanic in origin. This makes sense, as we are seeking to follow God's lead onto a path full of potential setbacks and dangers that we cannot foresee, all for the sake of rescuing a little girl from a poor orphanage and from life in an institution, a life lived outside of a covenant family and thus perhaps a life spent without ever having heard the Gospel. When I considered more carefully what all this meant, I realized that I had been wrong to stay so frustrated with how frequent the setbacks had become. In Acts 5:41 we read that the disciples rejoiced that they had been persecuted because of the Name of the Lord. Not only had these disciples been told to cease their preaching of the Gospel, but they had been beaten for sharing the wonderfully Good News of salvation through Jesus. And their response was not anger or frustration or withdrawing inside themselves to avoid feeling more pain. No, it was to spend every day, both in the temple and in various houses, proclaiming the very thing for which they had just been beaten—the Gospel. They continued to follow God's command to spread the message of Jesus Christ, no matter what it might cost them, and they did it joyfully.

When I take a moment to compare their situation with ours, I cannot help but feel a bit foolish for reacting the way that I did. Even though both we and those early followers faced opposition, their situation was much more dire than ours. The danger of physical harm was obviously present for those men, and it takes no great leap to imagine that the threat of death was not far off, either. Such persecution of Christians was common at numerous points in the first several centuries A.D., and given what happens to Steven at the end of the seventh chapter, the possibility that they could be killed for what they were doing might well have occurred to them. And yet, in spite of that, they pressed on in open defiance of the command given them by the religious officials and continued to obey the Lord, apparently either without fear or with so much joy as to overshadow their fear almost completely. In our situation, we were merely faced with having to run all over town as we had to clear one hurdle after another. There was never any threat of physical danger, and certainly not of martyrdom, in this, and yet I responded with anger and not joy. The day was frustrating, and I will not deny that, though my frustration should have given way to the joy of being in God's service. Rescuing a child from a desperate situation is one way in which the cosmic war between the forces of the Lord and the forces of Satan is being played out in the world around us. Although the war's outcome has been decided, the battles between now and the end are ongoing and fierce, and it is a privilege and an honor to serve the Commander of the heavenly armies in some small way as He works to redeem His creation, and I thank Him for enlisting me. Soli Deo Gloria.

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