Here’s what we know — our state is experiencing a record number of children in foster care. We aren’t alone. There has been a steady increase across the nation. We know there are many causes for the 45% increase here in the State of Kansas. We know that this increase of children in foster care has led to a statewide placement crisis for the over 7,500 children in care. As a result, placement decisions can’t be made based upon the best interest of the child or family because they instead have to be made out of desperation. Services provided to children are available from a system that is stretched way to thin, and supported with little to no margin. As a foster parent, this can translate into a feeling of hopelessness, despair, grief, and exhaustion when we see the little faces that this impacts on a day-to-day basis.
I have recently been on a journey (while at home in the chaos!) to discover what true “rest” really is so that I can keep doing this. How can we continue to advocate for children and be confident or find joy when so much seems chaotic and hopeless? Psalm 17:8-11 says: “I have set the Lord always before me. Because He is at my right hand, I will not be shaken. Therefore, my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body will also rest secure…You have made known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.” It starts with a choice: “I have set the Lord always before me…”, and only then do I get the “therefore.” “Therefore, my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices.” My heart is glad only because I have set the Lord always before me. When God is in HIs right place of Kingship in my life, the by-product is that my heart is glad. I have to actively choose to set the Lord always before me. God is who He is - Always. That will never be dependent upon me. But, my acknowledgment of Him is what changes me. “I will not be shaken” (v. 8). “I will be glad (v.9)”. All of the feelings of gladness and rejoicing and praise come as a response to WHO God is and the authority He has in my life. The peace, joy, gladness, and rejoicing are not a response to the events that are going on in my life.
The second part of the “therefore” from setting the Lord always before me is that my body will also “rest secure” (Psalm 16:9-10). I can have rest right now in my life and always in eternal life with Jesus. I choose to set the Lord always before me and, therefore, I have rest in the security of a Loving Father and a Savior. The day-to-day changes do not affect me, nor does my future. And further, when God is in His right place in my life, I do not live in confusion of what each day should look like, or doubt that God is in control. “You have made known to me the path of life (16:11). It is not a game of “what if’s” or a feeling of despair when others are making life-changing decisions for hurting children. Instead, when I focus on Him, “I am filled with joy” (v. 11). So God’s rest, peace, joy, strength, gladness — all of it is offered in the now, and not just when the hard is over.
A question was posed at the amazing Joy in the Journey conference for foster/adoptive moms recently, “What are you looking to be given in order to rest? When do you believe you can rest?” Rest comes only to our soul. Its the deepest part of us and not from our circumstances. May we each find rest in the person, the presence, and the promise of Jesus Christ so that we can continue to love deeply these foster children God has entrusted to us, and do it with joyful hearts that are at rest. Psalm 62:1-2, “My soul finds rest in God alone; my salvation comes from him. He alone is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will never be shaken.”
- Sarah Oberndorfer, foster mom