“But to Jonah this seemed very wrong, and he became angry. He prayed to the LORD, ‘Isn’t this what I said, LORD, when I was still at home? That is what I tried to forestall by fleeing to Tarshish. I knew that you are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in love, a God who relents from sending calamity.’” Jonah 4:1-2, NIV
I’ve done it too, siting in the courtroom waiting, hoping that harsh judgement will be passed on the biological parents sitting before the judge. They are the reason my children panic when they make a mistake, cringing as they wait for the verbal or physical abuse that they have come to expect will follow. That mom is the reason the infant I just visited in the NICU screams and cries for hours, her arms held stiff above her head as she goes through painful withdrawals from her mom’s drugs of choice. That dad is the reason one of my little girls has trouble sleeping at night, waiting for a repetition of the horrendous experiences of her short past. These precious little ones carry the consequences of their parents’ decisions in the physical markings on their bodies, but more often in their bruised hearts and minds. If I am honest, there are many times where I am like Jonah, wanting to see these children’s parents blasted with justice.
Jonah is outraged by God’s mercy and compassion on the repentant city of Nineveh, much like I am sometimes outraged when parents don’t receive the justice I think they should. But if I really believe the Gospel—if I really believe that the life of Jesus is a roadmap for how my own life is to be lived—then I have to believe that the perpetrators, the biological parents, are wonderfully and fearfully made, and that they were hand chosen by God to be the parents to the children in our care, that He loves them and His desire is that they be saved. I have to believe that myself and the families I case manage for are called to fervently pray for the biological parents to face the truth of where they are at and to receive God’s mercy, compassion, healing and salvation. I believe we have been called and commissioned, much like Jonah, for such a time as this.
At 4KIDS, when we invite families to foster, we are inviting them to pray for, love on and befriend these children’s parents to the greatest extent possible. This does not mean we hide the truth. God sent Jonah to speak the hard truth to the Ninevites, but God did this because he desired for the Ninevites to be saved. We are called to approach the biological families of the children in our care from the same perspective. This is messy and there is no single correct way of doing it. It forces us into a place of leaning on Jesus, asking for wisdom and praying for a soft heart for ourselves, for the children we care for and for their parents.
“The thief comes only to steal, kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life and have it to the full.” John 10:10