But we are not one of them.
On Thursday last week, the day our Article 5 was scheduled for pick up after sitting in the US Embassy for 17 days for a final review, the representative from our adoption agency came to retrieve it to overnight it to Beijing. Within 2 to 5 business days we would be given the go ahead to buy tickets and, if all went well with appointments, leave the following week, on December 20th. However, we received a phone call from our agency with shocking, unexpected news.
We have been delayed.
We did everything right. Our agency did everything right. China had all the approvals and information they were required to have in compliance with the Hague Convention. But the Embassy needed another piece of information that somehow was overlooked in all the steps of approval over the last six months. We don't know what it is. We may have to wait weeks to find out what they want. But we were told it WILL be resolved, it's just a matter of time.
Time that leaves us home in the US at Christmas without our Lottie Hope.
I was numb on Thursday. I couldn't grieve in front of my other children. We had a busy day ahead of us and those we were spending time with didn't understand what was going on. It wasn't until I was alone that evening in Walmart, buying food for another Christmas party, that I allowed myself to cry. Cry for the missed Christmas miracle we had been praying for. Cry for my daughter who would spend her 6th Christmas alone without her family. Cry tears of anger at the insensitivity of a system to wait until the last possible moment to delay our family from traveling to get our daughter when they had so many opportunities earlier on to resolve a simple issue. It was a day I wish I could erase from my memory forever.
However, I was reminded in several ways that day that Hope is still there. Our Lottie will be forever ours soon. But some people will not feel their hope this year at Christmas. To them, Christmas is bleak and dark. They may have lost a loved one this year and there will be an empty seat at the table. They may have had a life-altering event this year that leaves them depressed and discouraged, feeling there is no way out. And worst of all, they may be spending Christmas without the hope of their salvation. While we can still look forward, their Christmas is filled with looking back and grieving.
Yet there is something far more wonderful for us to anticipate.
As I was witnessing the baptism yesterday of a dear woman who I got to watch come to Christ, the sadness of not having Lottie with us in two weeks was pushed aside. I saw someone filled with joy and hope. She knows Jesus this Christmas and can celebrate His birth with her new church family! I looked around at the students filling my living room yesterday afternoon and tears came to my eyes. Never in my wildest imagination could I expect God to answer our prayers to expand our international student ministry to this capacity in one year! The room was packed with young people who had the opportunity to experience the message and hope of Christmas. He brought them to us! Then last night as we said goodbye to seven students who we may never see again, as I gave them one last encouraging word through tears, I was reminded once again. THIS is HOPE.
Maybe if we were so focussed on packing for China right now we would lose sight of our real hope this Christmas. Maybe we'd be so distracted in the chaos of logistics, reservations, rushing gift giving, cleaning and traveling, that we'd miss out.
God doesn't hold back His best from His children. He hurts with our hurting hearts, and
He didn't allow this set back because He's calloused and cruel. He didn't hold a miracle from us this year. His miracle He gave us was in His Son. Yes, every child He gifts us with is a precious blessing, but to let that gift overshadow the greatest gift would rob Jesus of the glory He is due.
HE IS OUR HOPE FOR CHRISTMAS