If God is Good, Then Why are There So Many Orphans?
Is the cup half empty or half full?
Personally, I remember this question mystifying me as a kid. You look at the top of the cup and there’s nothing there, so obviously it’s half empty. I’m not sure when my perspective changed, but I do remember it being a light-bulb moment, “Oh, I guess there is water in the bottom half of the cup!”
When you jump into the ocean of precious faces, names, and stories of numerous orphans around the world, it is easy to get into a half-empty type of mindset. Of all the heart-shattering images and stories I’ve encounter, none has wrecked me more than “Rosie,” a precious small soul we saw briefly at my son’s orphanage in China.
“Rosie” most likely not this tiny human’s name and there are more unknowns about his or her story than what I know. The few details I do know crush my heart and tempt me to doubt everything I believe about God. You see, this precious baby has a heart condition that cannot be fixed in China. Period. No second opinions. No experimental treatments. Nothing can be done. And that is literally all I know about this bundle in a blanket. I don’t know his or her age, real name, or how long they expect “Rosie” to be hooked up to the ventilator before his or her heart can’t beat any longer. For all we know, “Rosie” could be in heaven as I type this.
And the “whys” come crashing in: Why would a good God allow His precious creation to be born into a family living in a country where He knows that his or her heart has no hope of being fixed? Why would a loving Father allow this family to maybe make the most heart-wrenching decision ever to abandon this child in hopes of receiving life-saving care, only to die in a crib in a room full of strangers? Why would God not somehow someway bridge the gap between this dying child and life-saving treatment in another land? Why was this child whom the Bible says is “fearfully and wonderfully made” (Ps. 139:14) born at all?
Obviously, you can fill in the blank of this question a million different ways: If God is good, then why is there cancer, car accidents, natural disasters, human trafficking, and a million other heartaches, sicknesses, and tragedies. Why would a good God allow all this sadness and evilness in our world?
But isn’t this “half empty” thinking? The Bible clearly says, “You are good and do good” (Ps. 119:68 ESV). Nancy Lee DeMoss writes, “The Truth is, God is good. Whether or not His choices seem good to us, He is good. Whether or not it seems true in my life or yours, He still is good.”
So instead of focusing on the pain and suffering in this world, what if we put our time and energy in focusing on the goodness of God we see in this world and partnering with Him in the work He is doing? Take sweet “Rosie’s” probably short life. I can praise God that he/she was found and brought to such a caring place where they tried to help him/her as much as they could. I can be motivated to pray for him/her to be as comfortable as possible and that somehow his/her life will pave the way for children with this condition to be adopted sooner. And I can pray for and give to the NGOs who tirelessly work to give children life-saving care so their families do not have to abandon them in the first place.
This is “half-full” kind of thinking that encourages action. And this kind of thinking and doing brings glory to our good Father who loves each one of us and all those precious lonely, broken souls all over the world. It obviously doesn’t make the pain any less or the grief magically go away, however it does lift our eyes from every-changing circumstances to the one who is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Hebrews 13:8). He was good in the past, is good today, and will be good for all of our tomorrows, whether we choose to see or feel His goodness or not. Hannah Whitall Smith wrote, “A great many things in God’s divine providences do not look to the eye like goodness. But faith sits down before mysteries such as these, and says, ‘The Lord is good, therefore all that He does must be good no matter how it looks. I can wait for explanations.’”
You might be wondering why I named this precious heart warrior “Rosie.” Although we weren’t able to get a picture of him/her, I will forever see that rose-colored blanket covering most of this dear child’s body, with a tiny face enveloped in a ventilator and a million tubes peaking out from the top. I know someday when this cherished one takes his/her last breath, he/she will be greeted in heaven by a loving Father and will no longer suffer or need a machine to breath. And, I picture another Rosie, one of the most precious women to walk this earth and taken to heaven what also seems in our earthly minds “too soon,” to be at the gates as well, smiling and saying to this precious child, “Welcome! You’re finally home!”
No, in my earthly “half empty” thinking, it will never be “good” that a heart-broken little one takes his/her final breath in a chaotic room of strangers or that someone who’s life is devoted to encouraging others is cut short. Or, that numberless precious souls around the world wait and wait and wait for a family’s love and care, while suffering and even dying alone. But, I can chose to put on my “half full” cap and choose to wait for explanations from my all-knowing and all-loving Father, while actively partnering with Him in His goodness around the world.
How can you partner with God’s goodness around the world? Obviously, this isn't an exhaustive list of all amazing things God is doing around the world, however here are a few ideas...
1. Adopt, foster children, & support single mothers
There has been a lot of “pro-life” talk these days and for good reasons. However, as many in the adoption and other communities have said, you can’t claim to be pro-life without also being willing to support those precious lives through adoption, fostering children, and helping single mothers. As I kiss my son’s adorable cheek and see the endless line of precious faces on advocacy posts, I am so thankful that each one of their birth mother’s chose life for them, possibly at great cost to themselves. James commands us to care for orphans and widows, just as much as he urges us to keep ourselves untainted by worldly things (James 1:27). Precious children in China, America, and all over the world are ready and waiting for loving families to step into their lonely and sometimes tragic lives. Why are we making them wait any longer?
2. Support causes that promote family preservation
There are wonderful organizations that are striving to solve the orphan crisis in China through funding surgeries, educating parents on special needs, providing therapies, etc. so that parents are not left with abandonment as their only option. Although there are numerous ministries seeking to keep families whole, two ones we are familiar with are International China Concern and Love Without Boundaries.
3. Sponsor an orphaned or impoverished child
For those who are unable to adopt or do not qualify for some time, sponsoring an orphaned and/or impoverished child can be an immense blessing for those NGO’s that provide loving homes and education through generous donors. Bethel, Rainbow Kids, and Love Without Boundaries are just a few of the countless ministries working to care for precious souls who can’t care for themselves.
4. Donating to help offset adoption costs for families
Also, donating towards a grant for a child to help ease his or her family’s adoption expenses can be a huge help too! We were so blessed by numerous generous strangers who gave to our grant agencies: Show Hope, Lifesong, Katelyn’s Fund, Pure Gift of God, and Connected Hearts Ministries, just to name a few! You can also give towards a specific child at Reece’s Rainbow. A fun idea is to host a garage sale to raise money for adoptive families! One dear family told us they set aside a portion every month until they find someone who is adopting and donate their previously saved money to them. The ideas for supporting adoptive families are endless!
“You may choose to look the other way but you can never say again that you did not know.” (William Wilberforce)