The fall of 2008 found me on a teeny-tiny island many miles off the coast of Papua New Guinea in the South Pacific Ocean. It took three planes and a banana boat to get us there and many of the seasoned locals had not seen a white person since the Japanese invasion of 1942. To describe this island without clean water, electricity or even access to modern history as isolated would be an understatement. With my bright white skin & blue eyes, to the children, I might as well have been from Mars!
We provided what medical care we could while offering access to the Great Physician, truly the greatest need on the island. On the last day, a storm was looming and there was a mad rush to load our banana boat and make the several hour journey over open ocean quickly. As I collected my gear, a mother and her tiny infant approached. The child was apparently several months old but clearly severely malnourished, dehydrated and gasping for each tiny breath. Every medical cell in my body screamed this child was going to die if I didn’t intervene NOW. But the storm continued to approach & my team was yelling for me to get in the little boat. There was literally nothing I could do to save this child’s life. The mother was already despondent, I assume having already experienced the loss of one or more children. This baby needed fluids FAST. If I would have had the physical ability to put that tiny precious baby to my own breast, I swear I would have done it. The best I could do while running to the boat was toss packages of pedialyte and oral syringes at the mother’s feet while pleading with her to hydrate her child. “Oh God, save that baby!” was all my spirit could utter. Shy of an incredible miracle, I guarantee that child did not survive the night. It was one of the more traumatic days of my life.
I scrambled onto the boat terrified and confused and…angry. Angry at the mom for not some how producing enough milk. Angry at the entire nation of Papua New Guinea for not providing electricity & water & health care to their tiny isolated islands. Angry at the USA for being one of the richest countries on the planet and not better providing for impoverished countries like PNG. Angry at American health care for being so screwed up. Angry at my body for not being able to nourish a baby I didn’t birth. Angry…at God for allowing an innocent child to be born, only to die an ugly and very unnecessary death. No child should starve to death…anywhere…ever. It’s not right Lord! You gave me these skills. Why would You let me see something so horribly unfair and not be able to fix it?! My mind couldn’t process it and my heart was completely shattered.
The Lord spoke gently to my heart in the weeks that followed. He knew I needed time to heal and the wounds of that day were easily aggravated. But what He spoke I hear now in walking the adoption road. “I formed that tiny child in the depths of her momma’s belly, I knew each and EVERY tiny curl on her seemingly bald head and knew EXACTLY how many days she would live on this Earth – how many breaths she would take; not one of those breaths were wasted in glorifying Me. Not one.”
There are millions of children waiting for forever families and thousands of us praying, pleading, advocating for these children to come HOME. Money is raised. Blogs are posted. Ministries are supported. All are wonderful and God ordained, of this I am confident. But the Earthly reality is, there are children with the best of advocacy that won’t be adopted. Medically fragile children that will get worse. Children that won’t come HOME. It is so very hard for my heart not to deflate; Another one is still waiting. Lord, how did we fail?!
But God doesn’t fail.
And…for some reason, He also doesn’t always give us the WHY: Why children are orphaned. Why the sick aren’t healed. Why our good intentions & our God inspired advocacies don’t work.
Despite the uncertainties & the human heartache, our loving Father says:
There will be trouble, but My plans are perfect (John 16:33 & Jer 29:11).
If you run the race, I will send encouragement (Heb 12:1 & I Thes 3:1-3).
Keep your eyes on Me and I will strengthen you for the exact calling I have given you (Heb 12:2 & Isa 41:10).
Serve Me, not men, with a pure heart and when there is hardship, My glory will be revealed (Eph 6:6-7 & 1 Pet 4: 13).
Team up, love each other, encourage each other, pray for each other, bear each other’s burdens. I’ve put you together to serve Me for a reason (Col 1:9-12, Gal 6:2, 1 Pet 5:10).
When all else fails…praise ME (entire book of Psalms!)
For those drowning in the WHYs; for those frustrated with the lack of movement; for those whose heart is crushing under the weight of the call…lets us be encouraged. God is bigger. God is greater. Even when our hearts & advocacies seem to fail…God does not!