Sunday, April 24, 2016

If Thou Had Been There

Today at church this particular song was sung by my dear friend and another woman who attends our congregation.  "If Thou Had Been There" by Kenneth Cope, from the program "Women at the Well."  I've heard it before, but today it really struck me in a new way and it relates to our adoption process so I thought I would share because it was really a strong feeling.  The song itself is sung from the perspective of the biblical Lazarus' sister.  But today, it made me think of something else.

  Lazarus brother with illness lay,
Death lingered in the air,
Jesus, my brother still far away,
Oh Master hear my prayer.

Four mournful days had gone slowly by,
The tomb had his body claimed.
Jesus, why hast thou not heard my cry,
Here in my heart I prayed.

If Thou had been here,
If Thou had been here,
I'm sure my brother would not have died.

My sister whispered, the Master's come,
Run now he calls for you,
My heart was heavy, for death had won,
Too late, what could he do.

If Thou had been here,
If Thou had been here,
I'm sure my brother would not have died.
If Thou had been here,
If Thou had only been here,
He who Thou lovest, would not have died!

Jesus stood weeping and followed us,
Seeking the place where they laid him to rest.
Then looking to Heaven,
He spake, and the dead walked again!

If He had been here, when we hoped He'd been here,
We might be doubting,
His power over death, (now we will doubt no more)(runover)
Somehow He knew when to be here!
Son of God,
He is always here. 

Great song, right?  But today the last verses specifically struck me.   If He had been here, when we hoped He'd been here, We might be doubting, His power over death, Somehow He knew when to be here!  Son of God, He is always here.  And this is why it told me a different story today and how it relates to our adoption.  

I'm a very independent person.  I see a problem, I solve it if I can, if I can't I find someone who can.  I'm not afraid to ask for help, but only when my own abilities and resources have been exhausted.  I hate to think I would be the kind of person who would have disregarded all of the blessing we received during our adoption as coming from God.  Maybe I would have though.  Maybe I would have thought, look at all my hard work and here are the justifiable rewards of doing all of that.  

As it was, that turned out not to be an option, because those of you who remember our adoption process know that every single fundraiser, big or small, that we planned and put on were fantastic failures.  And I do mean fantastic.  We spent months planning a yard sale.  We rented a community center and had so much stuff for the yard sale we had to rent a U-Haul to bring it all to the community center.  At the end of the day, we'd made $140.  That's not a misprint.  And that's not after expenses.  After the U-Haul and community center it was more like $40.  I've made more money in my front yard selling random crap.  No one could explain why it didn't do well.  It should have.  All the circumstances were such it should have netted us some major cash.

Mike and I both agreed that day that it was all part of a grand plan, even though that was our tenth or so horribly failed fundraiser.  You can find the original details here  Mike likened those failed fundraisers to Gideon's great army, eventually reduced to just 300 soldiers.  The reason was to make absolutely sure no one mistook the victory for Gideon's.  That all eyes looked and saw the victory was God's and the victory was a miracle, because it was too big to be anything else.  

In the end, that's how we ended up funding our adoption.  None of our perfectly planned events or fundraisers worked.  Not a one.  We were about $15,000 short just eight days before we left for China, with no more resources.  It was only through a massive miracle, involving a precious woman named Elizabeth and a pair of socks, that we were able to complete our adoption.  Those socks, and the word of many mouths, brought us all but $3,000 of that money we needed in just TWO DAYS.  It was clearly God's miracle and there was no question in anyone's minds.  Least of all ours.  

We've made a point in the past of sharing our adoption experiences, because I've always felt the lesson isn't ours alone to hoard in our hearts.  It was God using our situation to spread a message we can all stand to hear.  God is always here for us and with us, but He doesn't always use the same calendar we do.  In my life, I've had some bad times.  Truly some tough things.  However, nothing has ever been as hard as the process of adopting the boys.  Finn was stepping closer to death every day.  We knew his time was running out.  Our process was fraught with bizarre complications that even the agency and workers had never seen.  Things that slowed our expedite to a crawl while Finn's illness barreled forward.  There were many days where we truly didn't believe he would survive all of the delays.  Meanwhile, the funds weren't coming and we were running out of places to pull money.  I literally stressed myself into an autoimmune disorder.  (Of course, I always had it, it just wasn't active until the insanely high levels of sustained stress of adoption came into play.)

Many times, people have called Finn's recovery a miracle.  Even the doctors he sees themselves have said, "He is a miracle."  Because he came home on the verge of death and now, almost two years later, he's truly come so far.  When people talk about our fundraising it's as though they are talking about an urban myth. Something of epic proportions that happened once to someone who knew someone who knew someone.  If I had gone through this process having my way, dictating when God helped us, and dictating that the money came before the edge of the cliff emergency, and dictating when our process moved forward, without our bizarre and copious delays that left Finn days from death, the miracle could have been ours if we chose to view it that way.  I certainly hope we wouldn't have, but we could have.  It's just as the song says. If He had been here, when we hoped He'd been here, We might be doubting his power.   

There's no room to doubt in the way our story turned out.  We hoped God would help us all along the way, and He did.  But not the way we wanted.  Instead, He gave us the strength to get through weird delays, a child on the verge of death, and expected money that never came.  He helped us get through until the point that there was no doubt in the world that our process and Finn's recovery was touched by a Master's hand.  So if you're struggling with your adoptions today, or anything where the Lord has asked us to wait even when we're very sure the world will end if we do, know that the Lord knows our hopes, but He also know the proper timing.  And trust in God also means trust in His timing.  Even if it hurts at the time.



  1. Wow Amber, this is very wise, mature stuff!

  2. Well, I am a wise and mature sort of person ;) Actually, it's just almost two years to reflect.