I’ve found that the only hope for enduring the ups and downs and unpredictabilities of fostering is to wholeheartedly believe that God is sovereign over all things and works good in and through them all. Without a grounded confidence in God’s providence, I know I never would have lasted two weeks. What else is there to rest in when things end badly? Because, truthfully, they might.
Considering what I’ve witnessed in the lives of my fostering friends here in my community, I’ve seen far more good endings than bad ones: some of the hardest experiences filled with joy and the saddest stories replete with hope. It’s just the reality of my experience that I’ve seen so much good. I’ll acknowledge, however, that bad exists too in fostering. Sometimes a plan goes awry and heartache hovers. Sometimes it suffocates.
What else but God’s providence can comfort a heart going through that kind of unspeakable hurt?
I love what I read on Jason Johnson’s blog a while ago about the sovereignty of God and his foster daughter:
“I know we can provide her a good home, a safe and loving environment, possibilities and opportunities that she may not otherwise have available to her if she were not with us. I know she will be loved here, cared for here and protected with every ounce of our energy from things that are dangerous, harmful or unhealthy for her. Yet, for all that we may be able to provide, God’s ability to be good to her in a difficult environment is far greater than any good we could offer her in a comfortable one. No amount of “good” we can give her can compare with the goodness of the sovereignty of God in her life, wherever she may end up living it. There are no guarantees in foster care, except one – God is sovereign in the life of this baby girl. He is good, and He will be good to her always, no matter where she lays her head at night.”
Those challenging words have deeply ministered peace to my heart. The promise of God’s providence makes worthwhile the risk of a permanent love for a temporary time. God is good and can bring good in ANY situation, and I believe that’s a truth you must come to grips with as you prepare your heart to be a foster parent.
Believing in the absolute goodness of His providence, it’s still easy to see that its forms are both bitter and sweet. A child leaving your safe home for one you fear is dangerous? It’s certainly a hard providence to swallow.
But there’s a flip side to this where many of His providences spring joy sooner, where we witness the perfection of his timing in the happy moments. This is especially true when He builds a family through the miracle of adoption. I’ve experienced that sweetness and watched it unfold in others’ lives too. It’s a joy like no other.
There was a precious baby boy needing a home, and when our home study was approved in record time and we were licensed that week faster than anyone thought possible, the sweet providence of God shone brighter to us than it ever had before. It reaches your soul deeply when you realize how specific God’s design is for your family and how impeccable His timing.
Another story of sweet providence that pierced our hearts involved a beautiful baby girl we fostered for a couple of months. A family existed who wanted to take her home from the hospital, but timing and other circumstances in their life prevented them from being able to say yes at that time. This potential foster mama, heartbroken over having to answer “no,” chose trust in a sovereign God and she prayed for that baby girl while we cared for her in the interim. Several months later – when the case changed and this baby needed a new, permanent home, the first family was asked again about fostering to adopt her, and three months’ difference of time allowed them to be in a place where they could say “yes” to the baby that still had a piece of their hearts through prayer. Their happy surprise attested to God’s perfect timing, and a family was arranged by the Architect whose blueprint is never limited by our circumstances.
Our God is in the details of fostering, and His commitment to sovereignly control all things is good news foster parents desperately need to hear.
As you prepare your heart to be a foster parent, dwell on these truths and fill your mind with the Scriptures that speak them. Whether you’ll need comfort for the hard providences or encouragement to celebrate the sweet ones, you’ll want the truth of God’s sovereignty to bolster your faith and fill your heart.
On Monday we’ll explore the role of prayer in foster parenting as we continue our series on How to Prepare Your Heart to Foster. Here you’ll find links to the ways previously discussed.
In the meantime, I’d love to know – how has counting on God’s providence strengthened you in a difficult calling?