In response to numerous issues of spiritual warfare that has been occurring with staff and prospective adoptive parents, a call to prayer was issued for Lifeline Children’s Services staff. As an overflow of this prayer time, Herbie Newell, President and Executive Director of Lifeline wanted to encourage families through Scripture and to offer prayer for them as they navigate the challenging waters of adoption. The following has been adapted from the April 24th, 2019 episode of The Defender Podcast.
Thinking Biblically about Suffering
Much in the same way that Peter was writing to a church is a post-Christ time, we are living in a time that is growing ever hostile toward Christians and the Church. Peter’s words in 1 Peter 4:12-19 are convicting and encouraging to those who are experiencing suffering because of our relationship and devotion to Christ. They also show us five truths that help think biblically about suffering:
- Don’t be shocked. If our Savior suffered, we will too (v.12).
- Rejoice. The Lord’s glory will be revealed as we share in Christ’s suffering (v. 13).
- Suffering because of our faith in Christ is a result of our pursuit of Him, not our disobedience and sin (vv. 15-16).
- Never stop speaking of Jesus. Judgment will be for all people and start with God’s people; therefore, we need to be spreading the gospel with fervor as we see the day of Christ’s triumphant return approaching (vv. 17-18).
- Trust God, forge ahead, and don’t turn back. We entrust our souls to Christ while we are still doing good, while we are making the Lord’s favor known (v. 19).
Peter reminds his readers that persecution for following Jesus was not only something that was predicted and should be expected, but it could also bring great gain.
Called to Risk
The picture we see of Jesus through the gospel shows us that He is something—someone—worth losing everything for. When we truly know Him, then risking everything we are and everything we have, to know and obey Christ is no longer a matter of sacrifice. It’s just common sense. To let go of the pursuits, possessions, pleasures, safety, and security of this world in order to follow Jesus wherever he leads, no matter what it costs, is not sacrificial as much as it is smart, because we realize in all of life, the only thing we can never lose is Christ and His presence through salvation. Jim Elliot aptly said, “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.”
Paul says to the church is Phillipi in Phil. 1:20-21 ”It is my eager expectation and hope that I will not be at all ashamed, but that with full courage now as always Christ will be honored in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” (Phil. 1:20–21)
If you had asked Paul to tell you what the ultimate aim of life is, he would have said, “Honoring Christ, magnifying Christ, and making much of Christ.” That was the meaning of Paul’s life and ultimate death and we should also live and die to make much of Christ.
Safety is not what we were created for; it makes for a nice retreat, but a meaningless life. God created us for so much more. When God calls you to act, doing nothing needs forgiveness as much as doing the wrong thing.
Shadrach, Meeshach, and Abednego showed great courage in the face of intense death and persecution, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter. If this be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of your hand, O king. But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.” (Dan. 3:16–18)
This was sheer risk. They looked in the face of persecution and said “We believe our God will deliver us. But even if he doesn’t, we will not serve your gods.” They did not know how it would turn out. Yet they were willing to risk it all for Yahweh.
Acts 21:12-14 says of Paul as he was getting ready to head to Jerusalem to preach the Gospel:
“When the believers heard this, they begged Paul not to go to Jerusalem. He responded, “What are you doing, weeping and breaking my heart? For I am ready not only to be imprisoned but even to die in Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus” (Acts 21:13). Paul believed that this trip to Jerusalem was necessary for the cause of Christ. He did not know the details of what would happen there or what the outcome would be.
It is the will of God that we will be uncertain about how our lives on this earth will turn out for us. And therefore, it is the will of God that we take risks for the sake of our Lord.
Fruit of Suffering
Taking risks, like adoption, will often lead to suffering, as spiritual battles swarm around those who fight for the things of God’s heart. Romans 12:1-2, 9-22 tells us how to surrender ourselves to the work of Christ and what that life looks like—the life that will ultimately suffer for the sake of Christ.
- Persecution is evidence of God’s almighty grace (v. 16-18). When we are persecuted for the sake of the name of Christ, it shows our identity with Him; it shows that we are truly a child of God. When we become a threat to the kingdom of darkness we can expect a battle to rage. It’s not because of our stellar lives, but as Christ commands us to say in Luke 17:10, “So you also, when you have done all that you were commanded, say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done what was our duty.’”
- We are being made more like Christ and more closely aligned with His purposes (vv. 13 & 2:21).
- It deepens our walk with the Lord (v. 12). We place our attention and seeking on God. Unfortunately it’s often at the moments of greatest crisis that we cry out to God all the more loudly, so the Lord tests our resolve.
- The favor and Spirit of God rests upon us (v. 14). God strengthens you and allows His presence to illuminate in your life, using you for the display of His glory to all people.
- Comfort will come by the mighty, strong presence of God Almighty (v. 19). We entrust our souls to Him just like we entrust our check to the bank. He will envelop us with His presence.
Prayers of Intercession for Foster and Adoptive Families
- Families as they become restless in the midst of waiting on a referral/match. Patience to trust in the Lord’s absolute perfect timing and to truly see His sovereignty in each detail. The waiting can still be hard, but pray that families are not overcome by that. Even in the midst of unknown time frames, pray that families truly trust that the Lord is in control, and they are not.
- Extended family members to understand and fully grasp the concept of adoption, and respect the decisions of the adoptive parents during the entire process. Pray that all extended family members choose to see the adopted child as truly part of their family. Pray against discrimination within the extended family, the community, and the local church.
- Pastors and church leaders during their adoption processes that their church families will understand and support the decisions about the amount of participation in church related activities once coming home.
- Families as they are fundraising and attempting to make fee deadlines, sometimes in a short amount of time. This can seem overwhelming and stressful during an adoption process. Sometimes families are working through personal debt, or simultaneously fundraising for their salary as missionaries or Christian organizations.
- Families as international central authorities make frequent changes in procedures that affect every aspect of a family’s process. Pray for compassionate hearts of the families towards the central authorities, even when they make decisions that causes delays.
- Families as they are presented a referral that doesn’t necessarily meet all of their expectations. Pray for them as they may cope with the guilt and shame of waiting so long for this moment, yet feeling disappointed. Pray for families to truly see they have an opportunity to consider a child that even though they may have to say no to, they can value the opportunity to intercede for that child.
- Families in the home study process, that may be challenged out of their comfort zone to confront unhealthy parts of their marriage, possibly go on hold to attend counseling, deal with marital issues and/or unhealthy habits. Pray for the enemy to not have a stronghold in marriages as they are pursuing adoption.
- Families in the post-adoptive phase, dealing with grief, unmet expectations, inappropriate behaviors from children, exhaustion, lack of community support, and the array of issues that come with children who come from trauma.
- For peace and perseverance for waiting domestic families: Our longest waiting domestic family has waited over 3 years.
- For healthy post-placement relationships between adoptive parents and birth parents.
- For adoptive parents to love unconditionally, even when expectant mothers choose to parent.
- For courage to wade through the hard things: the home study process can bring up past hurts, hard memories, or areas that would benefit from counseling. We pray for redemption through Jesus in these areas.
2 Chronicles 20:6-12
“and said, ‘O LORD, God of our fathers, are you not God in heaven? You rule over all the kingdoms of the nations. In your hand are power and might, so that none is able to withstand you. . . O our God, will you not execute judgment on them? For we are powerless against this great horde that is coming against us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you.’”
“What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? . . . For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
1 Peter 5:6-11
“ . . . Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. To him be the dominion forever and ever. Amen.”
“And I said, ‘O LORD God of heaven, the great and awesome God who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments, let your ear be attentive and your eyes open, to hear the prayer of your servant that I now pray before you day and night for the people of Israel your servants, confessing the sins of the people of Israel, which we have sinned against you. Even I and my father’s house have sinned. . . .O Lord, let your ear be attentive to the prayer of your servant, and to the prayer of your servants who delight to fear your name, and give success to your servant today, and grant him mercy in the sight of this man.’ Now I was cupbearer to the king.”
Listen to the full, unabridged podcast from Herbie here.