Thanks for your support of our adoption journey. We would love for you to join us in praying that God would give us wisdom, patience and perseverance as we go through the process to adopt our children! We appreciate the many people walking this adoption journey with us in prayer! ~Jon & Bethany

August 25, 2011

From Despair to Hope

Where do I begin? I have so many thoughts swirling around my head, so I apologize now if this post is all over the place, but that is how the past few days have been. I've been all over the place- emotionally and spiritually.

I confess that the first 24 hours after getting the news that our baby girl had died I was overwhelmed with feelings of DESPAIR. I kept looking at her picture and telling her, "I'm so sorry baby. Mommy loves you. I'm sorry I didn't get there in time." I felt like I had let her down. Like I didn't rescue her in time. And that is a gut-wrenching, despair-inducing way to think.

I kept questioning WHY GOD?? WHY??? WHY would You let this happen? When we were just months from bringing her home... when she would FINALLY experience the LOVE of Christ through our family. WHY would He let her die just days before our director got to Congo?? WHY would God let her die an orphan?? WHY did He not UPHOLD her as He promises to do throughout His word, especially in Psalm 146 that I've been praying through so often recently. WHY did you let this happen to our beautiful little girl, who is made in Your image???

I burst into tears every time I looked at her picture or thought about her all alone in an orphanage with NOONE to love on her & care for her. I burst into tears as I thought about our director showing up at her orphanage to give her our care package, only to find that she wasn't there. I burst into tears as our 18 month old son kept making silly faces at me, obviously trying in his little 18 month old way to "cheer mommy up." I burst into tears even when I learned the following day that she died in a Congolese hospital. It was somewhat comforting to know that she did receive medical attention, but broke my heart that they couldn't figure out what was wrong and HELP her. Basically, I've been bursting into tears a lot.

But I praise the Lord that He has not left me there, in my depair. He has surrounded us with our brothers and sisters in Christ who have been pointing us to Christ & truth while Satan has been trying to tempt me to believe his lies. Satan wants me to despair. He doesn't want me to have hope or believe that God is really good. {Sound familiar? Remember that the great deceiver used this same lie to coax Adam & Eve to sin & rebel against God's one rule in the garden... "God is withholding a good gift from you. He doesn't have your good in mind." See Genesis 3, and the outcome... and now ALL SIN and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23).}

 So we are SO, SO thankful for the many faithful believers who have been pouring out their love to us, grieving with us, and encouraging us with the word of God. One of the pastors of our wonderful church, Immanuel, and a good friend of ours, Dom, called us Tuesday evening. His words to Jon were so encouraging and MUCH NEEDED that evening. Jon told him how we were struggling to understand Leseli's death in light of Psalm 146, "[the Lord] executes justice for the oppressed, food to the hungry... The Lord watches over the sojourners; He UPHOLDS the widow and the FATHERLESS, but the way of the wicked he brings to ruin." As Jon mentioned in his post on Wednesday, Dom said to him, "She is no longer fatherless; she is face to face right now with her heavenly father. However she was suffering, God heard her cry and had mercy on her."
This hit me like a ton of bricks. Why had I not once considered this all evening? My reaction was so self-focused that I failed to realize the great MERCY God has shown her. Because she was just an infant and had not yet reached the age where she had chosen to rebel away from God, we can trust that she is in Heaven, face to face with her Heavenly Father. As much as I yearned to hold her and love her, God's arms are infinitely more loving and perfect than mine would ever be. She's in a place where, "He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away" (Rev. 21:4).

Jon read this as we prayed together that night. "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways" (Isaiah 55:8-9). Who am I a sinful, imperfect human to try to understand the ways of God? He is infinite, eternal, and created the heavens & earth and everything in them, including ME. Of course I cannot understand WHY everything happens. I am not God. (Thank God for that.)

While I am still VERY, VERY SAD that Leselie Joyce had to die an orphan, that I will never get to know her, show her unconditional love, do mother-daughter things with her, or teach her about my loving Savior Jesus... I can find comfort in knowing that she is with our perfectly loving Heavenly Father and I will meet her one day and spend eternity with her because I am His child too. He adopted me when I was 20 years old when I placed my faith in Christ ALONE for my salvation & gave my life to Him. I now have full assurance that His only biological son, Jesus, paid the penalty of God's wrath that my own sins deserve ("For the wages of sin is death" Romans 6:23) so that I can be washed white as snow & so that I don't have to spend eternity seperated from God by my sin in hell.

Another sweet friend reminded me of Romans 8:38, that although I mourn the loss of our baby girl, "I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present not things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor ANYTHING ELSE in all creation, will be able to seperate us form the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord." Praise the Lord!
In fact, not only can nothing seperate God's chosen children from Him, but He is actually using this trial and this suffering to test the genuineness of my faith & draw me closer to Him. "In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls" (1 Peter 1:6-9).

Though it has taken me a couple days to say this, I can now say with certainty that I am trusting that God has good plans for our family, plans to give us a hope and a future (Jeremiah 29:11). We would still appreciate the prayers of believers!! This journey is far from over. Our mourning and missing our baby girl is far from over. She will always be missed. 

*You can PRAY that "the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard our hearts & minds in Christ Jesus" (Phillipians 4:7).

*You can pray that like Paul, we would learn to be content in every circumstance (Phil. 4:11) and trust that God is working all things together for good & making us more like Christ through our suffering (Romans 8:28).

*You can PRAY for us as we continue down this emotional rollercoaster of rescuing orphans. Leseli's death has reminded us just how badly the 4 million orphans in Congo (and 147 million in the world) need a family to RESCUE, love & care for them and protect them. We continue down this road in faith that this is what God is calling us to do, but we know that we are not promised a smooth ride with no heartache. Pray that God would guard our hearts and that the next referrals we get, whenever we get them, would be the children that we get to bring home and that God would knit into our family forever!

Thank you for walking this long, windy, uphill-downhill, crazy journey with us. It would be a lonely road without the encouragement and support of so many friends and family spurring us on!


  1. Sending you prayers dear friend. My heart aches for you and your family. May God lift your spirits during your time of despair. xoxo

  2. Jon & Bethany, we are so sorry to hear this. We will be praying for you.