If I could adopt a Duggar-size load of orphans...I'd do it faster than you blink! My heart has been for the orphan for many years, as God has clearly shown me their plight worldwide. My husband and I had even spoken of adoption and had seriously looked at the possibility. We already know how that story ended. Even so, my heart is still for the orphan.
I'll never forget being in Africa last summer and speaking with some native Liberians about many of the children that we met. I was shocked to see adults fighting children for the food that we were passing out. It sickened me actually. The explanation? The elderly are looked upon more highly than the children. Now, don't get me wrong. I'm all about respecting our elders, etc. But, we witnessed people literally snatching food out of their visibly obvious protein-deficient, starving children's hands to give to a parent clearly in their last days on this earth. Again, my heart broke for these children, and I wanted to take them home with me.
Within days of my husband's death last month, I was lamenting in prayer to my sweet Lord the fact that my adoption/orphan care dreams were now dashed. Our conversation went something like this...
Me: You've been preparing my heart for adoption for so many years. You've given me a yearning to reach out and care for orphans. So, what am I to do now Lord? With Chris gone, this changes everything. You say in your word that, "Religion that God our father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world." I've tried to do that Lord. I feel like my means of trying to do that even more has just been taken from me.
God: Daughter, have you really tried or have you been selective? Do you see that I reference two specific groups of people in that verse?
Me: Yes. Orphans and widows. I see that.
God: Again, have you been selective my child? Have you been clinging to the orphan part of that verse and forgetting the widow?
Silence. Painful conviction had just entered my heart. He was right. I had done just that. I guess for me, I knew the verses in the scriptures that speak about God's COMMAND (not just a simple suggestion) to love and care for orphans and widows (and the alien too), but I've also focused on the orphan part of that, almost exclusively. It's just easier, I guess, to have your heart strings pulled for poor, defenseless children. All of my efforts had been directed to the plight of the orphan but what about the plight of the widow? Shamefully, I have to admit that I just wasn't "clued in" to that part of His command. I knew what it said, but was I doing anything about it? And yet, it's all over scripture:
Exodus 22:22 (NASB) You shall not afflict any widow or orphan.
Isaiah 1:17 (NASB) Learn to do good; seek justice, reprove the ruthless, defend the orphan, plead for the widow.
Zechariah 7:10 (NASB) ...and do not oppress the widow or the orphan, the stranger or the poor; and do not devise evil in your hearts against one another.
Deuteronomy 24:21 (NCV) When you harvest the grapes in your vineyard, don't pick the vines a second time. Leave what is left for foreigners, orphans, and widows.
This is just a brief sampling of verses. As noted before, the command to care for, love, not oppress, defend, etc. the orphan and widow is all over God's Word.
I was convicted. Sadly, the conviction came after I became THAT widow. My heart's been shattered a bit deeper now. I STILL long to serve the 143 million (and growing) orphans in this world, but my heart is now softened to the plight of the widow as well. Painfully, I now know her.
Forgive me, Lord, for seeing only part of the picture.