Just Saying ’Hold On’ Isn’t Enough

Once again, I’ve learned a valuable life lesson courtesy of my 2-year-old foster son.  I won’t be shocked if he starts charging me tuition.

This morning, as I was getting ready for work, I shuffled into the kitchen to make some coffee.  As I stood at the counter scooping the coffee grounds into the press, he ran into the room and wedged himself between my legs and the cabinet.  From this strategic position, he shot his hand upward and put his sippy cup right in front of me on the counter.  He wasted no time placing his order, “Want apple juice!”   My conditioned response came quickly, “Hold on.”

This began a conversational volley of “Want Juice!” and “Hold On!” that lasted much longer than it should have. (Many times I’m guilty of stooping to the level of my competition)  As my exasperation boiled over, I put down the coffee, looked him in the eye and said “HOLD ON, buddy!  I will get your juice in just a minute!”  Immediately, he stopped asking.  He had his daddy’s promise, and that was good enough.

A little later, I was driving to work and heard the song “Hold On” by Tobymac.  Every time I hear that song, I think of all the adoptable children waiting in foster care.  While every situation is different, I know that there has to be a gnawing emptiness associated with waiting to find a family to call their own.  As I listened to the song, I thought about my experience with my little boy this morning.  So often we, as the Church, send well-intentioned messages to all of these children essentially just telling them to “Hold on.”

“Hold on, it’s not convenient right now, we’re too busy.”

“Hang in there.  You can do it.”

“Keep your chin up, kid. We’ll pray for you.”

But just like my responses to my 2 year-old’s juice request, we’re guilty of saying “Hold on” without giving them anything to hold on TO.

That’s why the words of Tobymac’s song really hit me this morning. 

…If you can hold on, to the One that's holding you
there is nothing that can
stop this crazy love
from breaking through…

…And the stars are up there
shining for you
oh, the Father does adore you
His love will never change…

We have something to offer them that the world does not, and it’s more than empty words. We can offer them the love of a Heavenly Father, the very one who knew them before He spoke this world into existence, and loved them enough to send His own son to die on their behalf.  We offer them the promise of a Savior who said “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you” (John 14:18).

But it goes beyond showering these children with clever sayings or just quoting Bible verses to them.  It requires us to give of ourselves. God’s love that has already transformed our lives should overflow and compel us to fulfill God’s call to care for the “least of these” (Matthew 25:40) and the “fatherless” (Isaiah 1:17).

So let’s do whatever we can to encourage these children to “Hold on”, but let’s make sure we’re also extending our hands to give them something tangible to hold on to.

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