How do you explain the sovereignty of God to a broken 11-year-old?
Last night, after a discouraging attempt to be a “normal” teenager at a small group, our foster son hit rock bottom. Crying in his room, Aaron and I tried to maneuver through practical theology with this poor youngster who was beginning to believe no one- including God- could help him. As he often does, he began spiraling into despair when he gave something his bravest attempt and still fell short.
We have dealt with this with our own boys, but with our foster son it is a totally different discussion. Our boys have been raised with a firm foundation of values and worth. They know that if things fall apart, the world doesn’t. To our foster son, all he sees now is all there is. He has never lived in any place for longer than a few months. As soon as he begins building relationships, he leaves them.
Think about that…. What would your life be like if you changed schools, cities, friends, homes, churches every 6 months?
When things become uncomfortable, you run, because it is all you know to do. Intimate relationships- the kind that truly impact your life- are foreign to you. When authority corrects you, you feel attacked. When friends tease you, you feel your friendship is over. You lack the emotional depth not only to understand your own feelings, but to read the feelings of others.
This is where our foster son found himself. My heart broke as tears ran down his face and he said, “I gave my life to God, and nothing happens! I ask Him to help me keep it under control, and I still can’t do it.” He cannot reconcile the beliefs that God can be good, but God can still allow bad things to happen.
And who can blame him? The faith of most adults is challenged by the same dichotomy. We see the brokenness of the world and ask how a loving God could allow it to be.
But, who told us we would be rescued?
What makes us think things should be different?
How do we know things are bad or good?
What makes injustice unjust?
There is a standard- a message- buried deep within the human soul, and it tells us that things are not as they should be. It cringes at the story of a mother losing her baby, and it weeps with the child whose parent has abandoned him. Where does such a message come from? Who planted that seed?
I believe our Creator did. He has given us a blessed hope- a promise- that things will not always be as they are. In the mean time, He has given us a friend who will not necessarily bring that hope to light just yet, but will remain with us, wading through the brokenness and guiding us toward the life we were meant to live.
No child was ever meant to live as our foster son has, and so there are no easy answers. There is only hope- that somehow through his heartbreak, he will find that friend and follow His lead. And one day, he’ll see the beauty in the brokenness and see how it helped him find his way home.