In Daniel chapter 3 (you can read the whole thing here) King Nebuchadnezzar builds a giant golden statue and orders that everyone bows in worship to him when the music plays. The music played, and (almost) everyone bowed. In verse 8, it says that ‘certain Chaldeans’ came to the kings and ‘maliciously accused’ Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. They snitched to Nebuchadnezzar and told him that those 3 didn’t bow and they don’t respect him and his authority. The king was real mad and called for Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego to come and see him. He gave them another chance and told them that if they didn’t bow, they would be thrown into the furnace. They told Nebuchadnezzar that they weren’t going to bow. They said ‘our God can and will deliver us from the fire, but even if he doesn’t, we still won’t bow down to your idol.’ This made the king even more mad, so he ordered that the furnace got cranked up to 7 times hotter than normal. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were bound up and thrown into the fire. The furnace was so hot that the guards who threw them in were killed instantly by the heat. Nebuchadnezzar looked into the furnace and said ‘didn’t we throw 3 people into the furnace? I see 4 men walking unbound and one of them looks like he’s glowing.’ When Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego walked out of the furnace unharmed, Nebuchadnezzar acknowledge and worshiped the one true God.
To Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, success was not defined by earthly status. They had high positions in Nebuchadnezzar’s kingdom and by the standards of that time, were incredibly successful. But when it came to earthly success or obedience to God’s commands they easily chose obedience, even though they knew what they result would be. They were confident that God would honor their obedience by delivering them from the fire, but they also knew that obedience was the right way to go, even if they died in the fire.
Foster care is a lot like a fire.
There are seasons when foster care care feels like a campfire – fun, warm, and comfortable. Times where everyone gets along and your family is just like how you hoped it would be. All of your friends love hanging out with you and you feel uplifted by your strong community. Even though there is a fire, it’s under control and you feel safe, secure, and loved.
Other seasons are more like the fiery furnace – you feel overwhelmed, terrified, and convinced that you made a horrible mistake. It feels like you are lost in the fire and nobody can see that you are consumed. You don’t want to drag them into it because you’re worried they might get hurt or scared away. You feel lonely and like you’re never going to survive. Maybe it’s obvious that you’re in the middle of a fire. People might try to give you their perspective on how you can take control of the fire which, while well meaning, is practically useless.
Success as an foster parent has more to do with faithfulness than outcomes.
For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.Galatians 1:10
Foster parents don’t have anything to prove. Regardless of behaviors or circumstances, an obedient foster parent is a successful adoptive parent. Like Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, success isn’t tied to earthly success. In the parable of the talents in Matthew 25, the master says ‘well done good and faithful servant.’ It doesn’t say well done good and successful servant. (Jason Johnson wrote a great post about this) God honors faithfulness and obedience over anything we can achieve on earth.
As Christians, we are called to be in the fire with adoptive families. Romans 12:15 tells us to rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. For foster families, they can experience both of those within the same hour. We are called to be with foster families during the campfire seasons, when they are rejoicing and enjoying life together, and also in the fiery furnace seasons when they feel overwhelmed and unprepared. Walking through the fire of foster care with families can give us a front-row seat to what Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were so confident in. You will see God’s faithfulness and deliverance from many difficult situations, but you will also experience his faithfulness if a foster care story doesn’t have a happy ending. Even if the deliverance and redemption that is hoped and prayed for doesn’t come, God will still be good. You can weep together with them and continue to worship the one true God.
Foster care, like fire, can be contagious as well. The spark of adoption can spread throughout a congregation or group of friends. That’s part of the reason that Christians need to be involved in adoption and talk openly and honestly about it. Sometimes it just takes one family to take a step of faith and be obedient to God’s call to adoption. Other families will see their journey – all the ups and downs, and see God’s faithfulness throughout all of it. For families who may be on the fence, this visual and personal example can push them towards obedience as well.
If adoption is something you’ve considered, but you have questions – we would love to talk to you. Contact us and we would love to share our experiences and encourage you as you think about starting this journey. If you are interested in hearing my full sermon on this, check out our resources page.