Today’s article comes to us from Elizabeth Laing Thompson, the author of When God Says, “Wait” and When God Says, “Go.” She writes at LizzyLife.com about clinging to Christ through the chaos of daily life. As a minister, speaker, and novelist, she loves finding humor in holiness and hope in heartache.
Elizabeth lives in North Carolina with her preacher husband and four spunky kids, and they were totally worth the wait. You can connect with Elizabeth on her author site, on Facebook, and on Instagram.
The summer after our third anniversary, I turned to my husband and said, “And now, let there be babies!” Kevin looked at me with vague panic haunting his eyes, but said, “Okay! That sounds fun. I think?” We expected to just get off birth control, light some candles, and four weeks later, do a happy dance around the bathroom, positive pregnancy test in hand—that’s how the grow-your-family thing seemed to be happening for all our friends. Only it didn’t happen that way for us.
Perhaps you began your adoption journey after a struggle with infertility; perhaps the Lord has simply put it on your heart to open your home to a child. Whichever route led you to pursue adoption, you must have quickly learned that the time table is out of your hands—and often involves a season of waiting. The complex and emotionally draining process of growing your family can seem to stop and start so many times you end up with whiplash—not just for your feelings, but also your faith!
The Enemy’s Lies
As much as your faith can comfort and guide you through the adoption process, it can also be…complicated. You beg God to match you with the precious child He has chosen, to work out legalities, to finalize decisions and finances and paperwork…and when those things don’t happen in the timeline you prayed for—or when they fall through altogether—your faith can take a hit. In those long, silent stretches between answered prayers, the enemy’s voice can start to whisper doubt:
Maybe you didn’t pray hard enough.
Maybe your faith was too weak.
Maybe God thinks you don’t deserve a child.
Maybe this delay is your fault.
In waiting we feel deeply vulnerable. Satan’s deceptions target us where it hurts the most: insecurities in our relationship with God and insecurities about ourselves. The more we believe him, the more confident he becomes, his whispers turning to shouts that haunt us even in our dreams.
If Satan has whispered these lies to you, please try to hear—really hear—and believe: When life gets hard, it doesn’t mean God is punishing you. When your hopes are delayed or disappointed, it doesn’t mean you’ve done something wrong. Waiting is not your fault.
Suffering and delay are not punishments from God; they are part of life. Everyone suffers, including the most righteous of people. Even Jesus Himself lived a difficult life, filled with suffering.
In the gospel of Luke, God goes out of His way to point out a barren couple’s blamelessness in their heartbreaking situation. He introduces Zechariah and Elizabeth like this: “Both of them were righteous in the sight of God, observing all the Lord’s commands and decrees blamelessly. But they were childless because Elizabeth was not able to conceive” (1:6–7). Zechariah and Elizabeth waited decades for a child, and God called them righteous. Blameless. Similarly, the Bible does not criticize, blame, or shame other women who experienced long stretches waiting for children—women like Sarah, Hannah, Rebekah, and Rachel. They are not described as perfect people, but neither are they blamed for their inability to grow their families.
Our Father is slow to anger and has more love than He knows what to do with (see Psalm 103). Like a good parent, God knows our weaknesses and gives us grace to spare.
The Pressure to Wait Perfectly
Let’s talk about one more lie Satan loves to whisper: If you don’t wait perfectly, God will never give you a child. If you doubt, or feel sorry for yourself, or give in to envy or discouragement—well, forget it. God will disapprove and decide you’re not ready.
This kind of thinking puts tremendous pressure on our performance. It views waiting as a test from God, as if He is up there with His celestial red pen, marking papers, and we suspect He is secretly itching to put a big fat F at the top of our page. Every time we stumble or doubt, we panic: “Did I just blow my chance and fail the test?”
God is not out to get us. Think about Abraham’s wife, Sarah, who waited for a child for decades: She felt sorry for herself, she laughed at God, and she even made a huge mistake, with lasting consequences, when she chose to rush her waiting with her own solution. And yet God didn’t unmake his promise to her. In spite of Sarah’s weaknesses and failures, she still received the blessing God had promised. She ended up happy, cradling a son and sharing a laugh with her God. (See Sarah’s story in Genesis 12–23.)
God doesn’t expect us to wait perfectly. Of course He is happy and proud when we remain faithful, righteous, and close to Him, but our patient Father understands that we all struggle, and even fall flat, during our waiting times. His biggest concern is that we don’t quit on our faith, that we make it to the end (2 Timothy 4:7).
Remember Who the Real Enemy Is
Have you noticed an underlying theme threading through the enemy’s lies? His lies aim to make God seem like the enemy instead of Satan. To make us insecure with God. Distant from Him. Maybe even bitter. The adoption process with all its emotional ups and downs can leave us feeling vulnerable, raw, in desperate need of reassurance and comfort. Our God longs to provide what we need—but Satan’s lies try to distance us from Him. At a time when we most need our Father—we ache to curl up close and cry in His loving arms, to lie down and find rest in the protective shadow of His wings—we hesitate. We take a step back. Suspicion, guilt, and fear darken our view of God, damaging our trust. If the enemy’s lies go unchecked long enough, we pull away. When that happens, Satan wins.
Let’s fight back. Let’s see through the lies. As you wait for a child, your Father wants to walk hand in hand, comforting you, lending you courage, carrying you when your strength gives out. Listen now to God’s words, not Satan’s:
Fear not, for I have redeemed you;
I have summoned you by name; you are mine…
When you walk through the fire,
you will not be burned;
the flames will not set you ablaze…
Since you are precious and honored in my sight,
and because I love you,
I will give men in exchange for you.
-Isaiah 43:1, 2, 4
God sees. God hears. God cares.
And that’s the truth.
This article is adapted from Elizabeth’s book, When God Says “Wait” and the new companion journal: When God Says, “Wait”: A Devotional Thought Journal.
Lifetime welcomed Elizabeth Laing Thompson as a special guest in our webinar, “Trusting God With Your Adoption.” She shared her story of waiting for babies and how she stayed grounded in faith, even in the hard parts. You’ll be inspired by this webinar’s real-life talk, validating questions, and honest, practical tips, and Biblical references, to help you trust God in your adoption story.
This webinar is a helpful tool as you prayerfully wait for His next direction of your path to adoption! It will hit home for any Christian hoping to adopt or trying to make sense of where their dream of parenthood is taking them. Visit www.AdoptionWebinar.com to start streaming this webinar.
“When God Says Wait” Journal Giveaway!
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As Vice President of Lifetime Adoption, Heather Featherston holds an MBA and is passionate about working with those facing adoption, pregnancy, and parenting issues. Heather has conducted training for birth parent advocates, spoken to professional groups, and has appeared on television and radio to discuss the multiple aspects of adoption. She has provided one-on-one support to women and hopeful adoptive parents working through adoption decisions.
Since 2002, she has been helping pregnant women and others in crisis to learn more about adoption. Heather also trains and speaks nationwide to pregnancy clinics to effectively meet the needs of women who want to explore adoption for their child. Today, she continues to address the concerns women have about adoption and supports the needs of women who choose adoption for their child.
As a published author of the book Called to Adoption, Featherston loves to see God’s hand at work every day as she helps children and families come together through adoption.