Home > Devotionals, General Posts, Social Commentary > Crying Out in the Silence

Crying Out in the Silence

Before reading my blog post (click “read more…”), please read Dr. Moore’s article for Christianity Today.

Dr. Moore opens his article by reminiscing about his first visit to an orphanage somewhere in the former Soviet Union. In the orphanage,

I stopped and pulled on Maria’s elbow. "Why is it so quiet? The place is filled with babies." Both of us compared the stillness with the buzz and punctuated squeals that came from our church nursery back home. Here, if we listened carefully enough, we could hear babies rocking themselves back and forth, the crib slats gently bumping against the walls. These children did not cry, because infants eventually learn to stop crying if no one ever responds to their calls for food, for comfort, for love. No one ever responded to these children. So they stopped.

I want you to get that picture inside your head. I want you to feel that reality. I want you to picture a crowded orphanage with cribs lined up like sardines. In every crib there is a baby, a baby that does not cry because he or she has never had someone answer that cry. “So they stopped.” I want you to stop for a moment and imagine that kind of forsakenness. Get it in your mind, and keep it there. For those of you who didn’t read the whole article, that image returns in full swing at the end.

Adoption, really? A tear-jerking story? What’s the point?

Those all may be questions you asked as you realized what today’s blog post is about. But the Apostle James writes in James 1:27 that truly “pure and undefiled” religion begins with the care of widows and orphans. And the best way to care for, which in the Greek means to shepherd, an orphan is to adopt him or her. Dr. Moore is right to point out, though, that

In saying that orphan care is missional, I do not mean that every Christian is called to adopt or foster a child. But every Christian is called to care for orphans. As with every aspect of Christ’s mission, a diversity of gifts abounds. Some have room at their table and in their hearts for another stocking on the mantle by this coming Christmas. Others are gifted financially to help families who would like to adopt but cannot figure out how to make ends meet. Others can babysit while families with children make their court dates and complete home-study papers.

Still others can lead mission trips to rock and hug and sing to orphans who may never be adopted. Pastors can simply ask whether anyone in their congregation might be called to adopt or foster parent, or to empower someone who is. And all of us can pray—specifically and urgently—for orphans the world over.

Orphan care doesn’t just involve adoption. Orphan care involves such things as financial giving, prayer, and short-term mission trips. But adoption is important—orphan care is important. And it is important because it mirrors the gospel itself. As Dr. Moore writes of this dual nature of adoption as both doctrinal and missional:

I was at first reluctant to adopt, because I assumed an adopted child would always be more distant than a child "of my own." I was wrong. And I should have known better. After all, there are no "adopted children" of God, as an ongoing category. Adoption tells us how we came into the family of God. And once we are here, no distinction is drawn between those at the dinner table.

Think about that for a moment. Once we are in God’s family, “no distinction is drawn between those at the dinner table.” Since we are covered with Christ’s very own righteousness (2 Cor 5:21), we are just as accepted as He is at God’s heavenly dinner table! Dr. Moore then beautifully concludes his article by further tying in both spiritual adoption and physical adoption:

The universe around us is creepily silent—like an orphanage in which the children no longer believe they will be heard. But if we listen with Galilean ears, we can hear the quiet desperation of thumbs being sucked, of cribs being rocked. As we welcome orphans into our homes, we can show the orphaned universe what it means to belong to a God who welcomes the fatherless.

Let’s remember that we were orphans once, and that someone came looking for us, someone who taught us to call him "Abba." Let’s be ambassadors for the One who loves the little children, all the children of the world. Like him, let’s welcome children into our homes, our churches, and our lives, especially those we are not supposed to want.

“Let’s remember that we were orphans once, and that someone came looking for us, someone who taught us to call him ‘Abba.’” We were orphans once. We were orphans. But God the Son “came to seek and to save the lost” (Lk 19:10). He came even though we despised and rejected him. Not only were we orphans who didn’t cry out for God, but we were crying out against the One who came to save us, to adopt us! Yet he, the Good Shepherd, laid down his life for us orphaned sheep. And when we humbly trust in his righteousness for our own salvation, we receive the benefits of God adopting us in Christ.

We were orphans once, but we’re not anymore, and we are no less God’s children than Christ is God’s Son. He has accepted us as Beloved children through his Beloved Son’s substitutionary death on the Cross (Eph 1:3-14). We were orphans once, but we are beloved sons and daughters now. In Luke 6:36, Jesus commanded us to “be merciful, even as your Father is merciful.” God adopted us when we were spiritual orphans. Shouldn’t we, then, physically care for orphans in the ways God has gifted us?

If you have not yet read Dr. Moore’s article (despite my recommendation), you can access it here. (You really should read it; my quotes don’t capture the half of gospel glory that Dr. Moore’s original article portrays.)

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