When I was young, there was a season of years when my parents cared for foster children. Over the course of about five years, thirteen children flowed through our home. These babies, toddlers and kids (always younger than me) came from extremely broken homes. Their parental abuse ranged from addiction to drugs and alcohol to physical abuse.
It’s a brutal reality to see a child with their hair pulled out and bruises on their abdomen, and even harder to hear that this was done by their parents. Even as I type this right now, I get a pit in my stomach. Who would do that?
As you can imagine, the process of saying goodbye to these children took its toll, especially when they were sent back into the mess from which they came. The pain of letting go (as well as my parent’s age) brought the fostering years to an end.
More recently I’ve been watching a beautiful story unfold at my church. There is a lovely woman who recently became a foster mom. Just like my mother, she desired to open her heart to children, take them into her home and care for them. So she went through the lengthy process and now it has been a delight to see her show up at church with little ones in tow.
A few weeks ago, it was her turn to read the scripture in service. And, for just a few days, she was fostering a newborn. As she walked up to the podium, she cradled the precious little one, wrapped in a white blanket. The sight in and of itself was a beautiful image.
But when she began to read, and I heard these words emerge from her lips, I began to tear up. I don’t think I had ever heard this scripture read with such tangible evidence of it's being true...right before my very eyes. She was living the words. Here is what she read...
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ. If we are distressed, it is for your comfort and salvation; if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which produces in you patient endurance of the same sufferings we suffer. And our hope for you is firm, because we know that just as you share in our sufferings, so also you share in our comfort. (2 Corinthians 1:3-7)
I wish you could have been there. I wish someone would have taken video of that moment. But it came and went just like the scripture reading does each week. It was short and so very sweet. I didn’t want that moment to end. I know it will be etched in my mind for the rest of my life. She expressed the living word. She was, quite literally, the comfort that child needed and it emanated from the comfort she had received from God.
When was the last time you saw scripture being so graciously lived in front of you? The bible is so much more than the rulebook that some assume it to be. It is full of wisdom for our very real lives. And it is best expressed to the world through our lived experience. Then the full wisdom can be revealed in quiet power...like a foster mom holding a newborn...and comfort flows.