Week 12: James and the Fatherless
Day 3: Every Good Gift
“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.” James 1:17
Some of the things that happen in our lives don’t seem like gifts, let alone good and perfect gifts, but when God calls us to something, no matter how difficult that something is, it is still a gift.
I remember walking into the orphanage kitchen that day thinking about the “gifts” that were present in my life. They were such a mixture of joy and difficulty that it was truly difficult to process it all. As I came into the room, the American director of our orphan program saw me and said, “You have a very interesting look on your face. What are you up to?”
“I am just reminding myself that every good and perfect gift comes from above.”
He laughed, knowing very well the difficulties I’d been facing with some of the children in my care over the previous months. “All of them?” He asked with a grin.
“All of them.” I replied, still trying to convince myself.
Two hours later, one of the orphans in my care attempted to commit suicide. I will never forget the look in her eyes as she, just moments before doing the unthinkable, pointed at me from down the hall and said, “This is your fault.”
I cannot even begin to describe the broad spectrum of emotions that followed. Fear and concern. Relief at the realization she would be okay, the pills she had taken were vitamins. Questions: Was it really my fault? Why was suicide her first choice in a situation that to everyone else seemed small and insignificant? Why did she blame me when my only part in the situation had been to try to calm her down and find out what was going on? What had I said or done that made her feel she had no other choice? I was horrified.
I remember standing in the foyer of one of our buildings the next day with our Russian director. We stood in silence for a long time. I was still shocked. I was nervous and unsure of what she was going to say. I was unsure of how to proceed with this girl that I loved so much, and still do, more than she will probably ever know. The room was unheated and, therefore, very cold, but that was not why I was trembling. We just looked at each other for a while, not sure of what to say. Finally, she told me there would be an investigation, but she felt the situation had been handled properly and things would work out in the end. She asked me to clarify a few details, so that she would be able to answer the investigators’ questions.
As we finished, she told me she was glad I was the one working with the girl, but I didn’t agree. I felt I had failed them both. I had failed the other girls in my group, the other leader in my group, our interpreter, the other staff in the orphan program and, most importantly, God. But I said nothing. There were other issues at hand concerning one of the guardians of one of our other girls. We discussed that briefly. The silence returned. To my surprise, before heading back into her busy world, she stepped forward and hugged me. Then she was gone, and I was headed back to the apartment to finish removing anything that might be used in further attempts.
The days that followed were hard for all of us. We had a lot to work through, but God was faithful in each and every step. It wasn’t the path I would have chosen as good and perfect, I would have looked for one without brambles, without heartbreak. But looking back, I can agree with our director now. I’m glad I was the one working with that particular child. If someone gave me the opportunity to go back and work with someone else, knowing what would happen, I wouldn’t do it. I would still choose my group of girls. I would still choose her. That girl and I were roommates a couple years later. Oh, how we laughed together! We studied God’s Word together. I hope she’s studying it still. It’s been a long time since I’ve seen her. But I still love her, just as I still love all of the children, many of them now adults with children of their own, from those precious years in Moscow. I would not change things because she was a good and perfect gift to me from my Lord.
God never changes. We saw that clearly in those days. He is the “…Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.” (James 1:17) Even though those days had some very dark moments, Christ was always the light and hope in them. He chose to provide a way to make us His own children, to establish a path for our adoption and redemption. He has set us apart as the “firstfruits” of His creation. (James 1:18) He is not going to leave us in time of trouble. We are precious in His sight. With each trial comes the confidence that every gift from above is both good and perfect. That confidence is one of the key factors in enduring. We may not always see how what we are passing through can in any way be good or have any merit to it, but God has promised:
“And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28)
Trust Him. He never fails.