The Rest of the Verse

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.  James 1:27

I was driving through Seattle last week, when this familiar verse came to mind, and as it flowed along, three words jumped out at me.

“…in their distress…”

Distress — how had  I missed that?

Caring for widows and orphans sounds great, doesn’t it?  It’s the “distress” that is hard to bear.  The very nature of being orphaned is distressing to a child and for some of our kids, their distress is profound.  It isn’t pretty; it is down in the mire, giving it all you’ve got, pleading with God for healing, and wrestling with the pain.

We are eager to “look after” orphans, but somehow their distress surprises us.  Distress is defined as great pain, anxiety, or sorrow, and acute physical or mental suffering.   This is not easy to welcome into our families and homes.

I want to encourage each one of us with children from “hard places” to press on in faith.  If we can’t accept our children’s  distress, if we hope it will go away, we simply cannot bring healing to them.  Yes, it is going to hurt and change us.  My life barely resembles the life I had five years ago.  I’ve said it before, and it is still true, I miss my old life — I really miss it.  But, I press on walking the path the Lord Jesus has set before me.  I don’t always do it with grace, in fact I mess up every single day. If I’ve ever given the impression that I am living this out perfectly, please forgive me now.

Living by faith in obedience to God may mean suffering, it may mean distress, but let’s not give way to despair.  We have every reason to hope; we have the only reason to hope.  Jesus.

Lisa

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Let me introduce myself. Russ and I are the parents of twelve children by birth and adoption, and sometimes more through foster care. I'm the creator of One Thankful Mom which has been as much of a gift to me as to my readers. In 2011 I became a TBRI® Pracitioner* and have lived and breathed connected parenting ever since. I'm deeply honored to be the co-author, together with the late Dr. Karyn Purvis, of The Connected Parent; it is her final written work. I love speaking at events for adoptive and foster parents. I'm also the co-founder of The Adoption Connection, a podcast and resource site for adoptive moms. I mentor and encourage adoptive moms so you can find courage and hope in your journeys of loving your children well.

0 Comments

  1. dorothy
    July 26, 2011

    Amen – and if we ignore their distress we are compounding their pain.

    Reply
  2. Julie
    July 26, 2011

    Great post, Lisa. It's so true that their distress can be distressing to us. One thing I've really learned through this is that if we're going to reach down into a pit to pull someone out, we're going to get our hands and knees dirty and we risk our lives to pull them out. Greater love has no one than this: that he lay down his life for his friends. Daily laying down our lives is the hard part. Risking our lives and families to help these kids can be scary.

    But, the hope and the blessing. They are strong. They are powerful motivators. The Hope that gives me hope called me to this and He lavishes intangible blessings on me. I truly appreciate the highs because I have lived through the lows. I see things that others miss. My compassion for others has grown and grown. My understanding of human nature is deep. My trust in God is fuller. These aren't easy blessings, but they are abundant.

    Reply
  3. Paula
    July 26, 2011

    A very perceptive post. I love that verse even more now.

    Reply
  4. Jamey
    July 26, 2011

    My eyes literally filled up with tears when I read that you miss your old life, really miss it. I think that has been one of my hugest hurdles (and now I just want to sit down and cry about it!) So often I feel like I'm the only one in this situation who misses the life before. It seems like everyone else has just been able to embrace their new RAD/attachment-challenged life and they don't ever look back. I feel so guilty about how I miss my life before. I miss my life from before and I *do* have Hope for our tomorrows, but my 'todays' are always so hard.

    Reply
    1. Cindy
      July 26, 2011

      Oh Jamey… I promise, we don't all "embrace" our RAD lives. We live them. We cry through them, we pray through them, we make mistakes through them, we are honed into new people through them. It is a painful process. You are not the only one. Grasping and holding tight to my faith is the only hope I've had. There are many families who are feeling the same as you, we aren't alone in this battle. Love, Cindy

      Reply
  5. Shonni
    July 26, 2011

    Wow, this is so perfect for me today, especially as we are getting closer to bringing our two home from China soon! I am so grateful for your encouragement!

    Reply
  6. Mary
    July 26, 2011

    Amen Lisa. It is difficult to watch our kids walk through distress, difficult to think of all the agony poured into their lives at such young ages and then to sit and feel like we cannot say or do anything. But fixing it and doing something are not the same thing. We cannot fix it. But we can love them. And in faith trust that God will take care of them . . . and us.
    Thanks for calling our attention to "the rest of the verse."

    Reply
  7. Dawn Wright
    July 26, 2011

    THAT is a profound post! THANK YOU!!!!!!!! Sometimes we forget altogether that distress, and we want to sugar coat it, but that is NOT what the verse clearly says. THANK YOU!!

    Reply
  8. Lori
    July 26, 2011

    Thank you for such a thought provoking post. Distress equals pain and when we reach out to children in distress/pain we too are impacted by their distress/pain. Thank you for sharing this!

    Reply
  9. laura
    July 26, 2011

    Hmm. I never noticed the "in distress" part either. We have one of three that is so fearful of doing anything wrong. Even after 2 years. We think there may also be a learning issue as well, but it's the fear that gets me. Thank you for posting your thoughts on this verse we all like to claim as our banner. What an eyeopener!

    Reply
  10. Jennifer P
    July 27, 2011

    Somehow I missed that part as something to dig into. Thank you for this post. I had a revelation recently when I was wondering why I was enjoying my toddlers so much? I realized that we didn't "enjoy" the early years with the next two oldest because their "distress" completely took over our lives for three years. The distress takes on different forms as they get older and how true that we change and grow in painful ways. I honestly don't know how people do this life without the eternal hope of Jesus.

    Reply
  11. Sharon
    July 27, 2011

    Thank you so much for sharing that and bringing it to light. This verse was my guiding verse as I went through my social work training way back in college. My heart had always been drawn to care for orphans, but it never included adoption. The distress has just hit me now, much more personally (and requiring me to become less selfish-SO hard) caring for my daughter in my home I am witness every day to the distress…I've never thought of it before. Thank you for the wake up call.

    Reply
  12. Bethel
    July 27, 2011

    Such a good reminder, Lisa! I will certainly be pondering the "distress" in a new way as I walk with my children through their healing. The "widows" portion of this verse has been on my heart lately. We recently lost a friend who left behind his wife and three little children. The pain is great right now. Both my children and my friend are in great distress–it's so easy to see why my friend is hurting so, but I so easily forget what my children are dealing with on a daily basis.
    Thank you, Lisa!! Blessings!

    Reply
  13. Oldqueen
    July 28, 2011

    It is always so amazing how God points something very specific out in His word, for us to savior and use as a tool for personal growth. Thanks for sharing. The enlightenment is a blessing to many.

    Reply
  14. Phyllis
    July 28, 2011

    Lisa, I linked this post on my blog. You can express thoughts so clearly. Thanks for this post.

    Reply
  15. Carol
    July 31, 2011

    Lisa, I encountered your blog accidentally this evening as I was preparing for a sermon and was looking up Hudson Taylor's quote "Impossible, Difficult, Done" and you quoted it somewhere on your site. I love how you love God and your kids. Your blog on how the distress of our children, distresses us resonated with me. One of our children is dealing with depression right now, and truly his distress has become ours. Thanks for the thought-provoking documentation of your journey. May God continue to bless you and those you love.

    Reply

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