My good-natured and ravenous son rolls out of bed each morning chanting, “I want oatmeal!” Within a minute or two, I have his bowl of morning oatmeal ready. He takes the bowl in his chubby hands and says, “Thank you, Mommy!”
This early morning interaction is both a sweet, steady gift and a jarring deviation from other elements of my life. My husband and I began the adoption process when our oatmeal aficionado was barely one, when all he could shriek upon waking was “OHMA!” Now his third birthday has come and gone. Now his sentences have a subject and a verb. Now he’s not a baby, nor is his older sister. There’s no baby in this house, just the distinct feeling that someone is missing.
Is the Wait Fruitless?
Growing a family through adoption is not the stuff of microwaves and morning oatmeal. There are no buttons I can push, no clock that counts down the time, no quick satisfaction. Instead, there’s paperwork, and there’s waiting.
The waiting feels volatile and fruitless. There have been chaotic nights when I wake up in panicked tears, pricked by the sensation that my child is out there somewhere, in desperate need of a parent. There have been shame-filled and cynical days when I feel duped—like we’ve been pretending to adopt, like God tricked us, like we sold t-shirts without reason, like we’re fools. There have been days when I feel numb, small, and inconsequential: No one remembers we want to grow our family. This extra room will be empty forever. Do I need to re-wash these clothes that I washed and folded over a year ago? Is there any point?
There’s something about waiting that feels like it’s not part of God’s plan, as if our adoption slipped through his couch cushions like the remote. And yet, in this season of waiting, I’ve yet to encounter a storyline or instruction in scripture that doesn’t involve waiting. Waiting is a Bible character that pops up on just about every page.
Noah steadily built an ark during years of cloudless skies, Moses endured two wildernesses, prophets spoke of events that wouldn’t come to pass for years. Our Messiah came centuries after he was prophesied, and he came as a baby who had to grow into a man. After he was crucified, he lay dead and sealed away in darkness for three days until he finally stepped out alive. Even after Jesus offered that long-awaited redemption, James encourages early believers to be patient in suffering:
See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient about it, until it receives the early and the late rains. You also, be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand (James 5:7-8).
Waiting, it seems, has always been God’s go-to ingredient for his plans.
The Slow Fruit of Faithful Waiting
Ultimately waiting is a crucial element for God-ordained growth. Waiting is not a forgotten, fruitless place but an intentional, ordered place to which God draws us, that we might remember him and practice our faith. It’s not a lifeless place but a place of life underground. In the waiting, below the surface, seeds are undone and roots are nourished. One day there will be fruit, but for now, there is vital work, work that cannot be microwaved.
In the seemly out-of-control waiting of the adoption process, though our hearts yearn for instant satisfaction, we must remember that God isn’t a God of instant oatmeal but the Creator of precious fruit. We must take one faithful step after the other, keeping our eyes on him like the Israelites followed the pillar of fire in the dark wilderness nights. We must be patient like the farmer James mentioned, knowing the true work is done underground where we can’t see, soaking up every drop of the rains that come to nourish the dry soil. We must establish our hearts by resting in who God has shown himself to be in scripture: steadfast, kind, and in control.
Through all the emotions that threaten our peace, the steadying force in the shaky wait is God’s sovereignty. We can trust that he’s doing orderly, fruitful work in unseen places because he’s always done orderly, fruitful work in unseen places: in soil and in tombs, in hearts and in wombs.
Things are in order; we’re just not the Order-Maker. Praise be to God, who sovereignly orchestrates our waiting that we might remember he alone orders our lives and creates families.
Caroline Saunders believes in taking Jesus seriously and not much else. She’s a writer, mother, proud new owner of purple hair, and wife to Luke, a pastor and firework aficionado. She loves serving women through writing, discipleship, and creating a retreat experience with her besties. You can connect with Caroline on Facebook, Instagram, and her website.