When You’ve Been Let Down
Several years ago my husband and I prayerfully decided to become foster parents. A family that had gone to our church in the past was in need. Because my husband is a social worker, we did not go into fostering naively. We knew it would not be easy. Still, I never thought it would be as difficult as it was. Our foster children had been through a lot and needed a lot of extra attention. Our own four children had a difficult time adjusting to our new family dynamic and the great emotional needs of our new foster children and were struggling with our decision. I was busy trying to homeschool our own children during the day. My nights were filled with running my foster children to different medical appointments, therapy, and visits. Additionally, due to the seriousness of our case, we were frequently visited by three different social workers (one of whom had a terrible attitude). The nights I wasn’t taking my foster children to appointments or having others in our home, I typically found myself playing the role of counselor to one of the six children in our house having an emotional breakdown. Added to this stress was a completely distraught birthmom who called our house many, many times a day. I was stressed out, worn out, exhausted, and utterly spent. I had nothing left to give. What I desperately needed, what our whole family desperately needed, was a break.
Unfortunately, breaks don’t come easy to foster parents. Although social service agencies have plans in place for respite care, these are almost always families the foster parents and children don’t know. So, sending your foster children to respite care is the same as sending them to complete strangers. Families who decide to foster can make arrangements for their own family and friends to be respite workers, but this takes time. Their homes have to be approved by visiting social workers. They must also have child abuse and FBI clearances done, both of which take months.
So we had been fostering for almost a year before an opportunity came for a nice, long break. Our break was set up for a whole week at the end of the summer, and I was so looking forward to it! Our own children were so relieved. It would just be our family. We would drive out of state, away from all the phone calls, away from all the visits and appointments, away from the upside down world we had brought into our home, away from all the stress. I couldn’t wait! I spent much of my time thinking about it.
A week or so before we were to leave, my friend, who had agreed to provide respite care for us while we were gone, called and told me she couldn’t do it.
I was devastated! How could she let me down like this? Didn’t she know how stressful my year had been? Did she have any idea how hard it was to communicate with these people day after day? Did she stop to consider how much our family desperately needed this break? How unlikely it would be to find someone else, an approved respite worker the children knew, to watch them instead? I was depending on her and she let me down! How could she do this to me, to my children?
I was so upset I really couldn’t speak. I hung up the phone and silently stewed. Then I sobbed and sobbed for about 3 hours.
In John chapter 10 we see another example of a big let down.
Lazarus was terminally ill. Martha and Mary were very worried about him as they saw him deteriorate, but still they were fortunate. They were great friends with Jesus. He was a busy man, to be sure, but they knew he loved their family. He had been to their home and had dinner with them. He obviously had a special place in his heart for them. Surely he would make their needs, Lazarus’s needs, a priority. So they sent word to Jesus, “Lord, the one you love is sick.” (John 11:3) Then they waited.
Jesus would obviously drop everything else he was doing and come right away. He loved them didn’t he? The hours slowly ticked by. He would be coming through their door any minute now. Lazarus weakened. He grew more pale. They kept looking at their door, listening for the familiar murmur of a crowd approaching, the crowed that surrounded Jesus wherever he went. More time ticked by. Lazarus was obviously barely holding on. They did what they could. They cared for him, cleaned him, tried to keep his burning fever down, tried to make him as comfortable as possible.
What was that? Was someone at the door? It had to be Jesus! No, it was only a neighbor, checking in on them. “How is Lazarus?” he wanted to know. “Is there anything I can do to help?”
More time went by as they anxiously waited, hoping and praying Jesus would come in the nick of time. Lazarus was barely breathing now; there was barely a pulse. Finally, he expired. Their brother was dead and Jesus had not come.
They were devastated! How could he let them down like this? Didn’t he know how stressed they were? Didn’t he realize how sick Lazarus was? Did he stop to consider how desperately they needed him? They were depending on him and he let them down. How could he do this to them, to Lazarus?
Jesus finally arrived 4 DAYS later. We know the sisters were upset about their brother and upset with Jesus. The first thing Martha said to him was, “Lord if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” Mary was so upset she couldn’t speak to him right away. The scripture says Martha went out to meet Jesus, but Mary, knowing he was there, chose to stay at home. (John 11:20) In fact, she didn’t speak to him until Martha came back and told her Jesus was asking for her. (John 11:28)
Mary’s first words were the same as Martha’s: “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” (John 11:32)
Scripture does not tell us the tone in which these words were spoken, but I always picture the sisters speaking with accusation in their voice.
Mary was already at his feet, weeping. And Jesus was deeply moved in spirit and troubled. (John 11:33) He saw, he felt her pain and sorrow. The day I was let down, the day I sobbed and sobbed, my Lord felt my pain and sorrow as well.
But it was not the end for Lazarus. The sisters’ plans were for his healing. Jesus’s plans were far greater. They were for his resurrection, and HIS glory. He called him forth from the dead to the amazement of everyone there, and he dined again with their beautiful family soon afterword. (John 12: 1- 3)
We understand God’s purpose in the delay of the healing of Lazarus. But we don’t often understand God’s reasons for the “Let downs” in our own lives. Still, God’s ultimate purpose is the same. For some reason, for some unknown plan, God has allowed this despair, this trouble, this thorn, to bring glory to himself. Ultimately he will bring greater glory to Himself through these valleys, even when it’s others who have let us down.
Jesus said to Martha, “he who believes in me will live, even though he dies …. Do you believe this?” Basically he asked, “Do you trust me?” Do you trust that even though your world is falling apart I know how to put it back together? Do you trust that I know what I’m doing? I’ve got things under control.
Child of God, have you been let down? Are you in despair? It may seem your world is falling apart, but God knows how to put it back together. He knows what He is doing and will bring glory to Himself through this low point. Do you trust that He knows what He is doing?
He’s got things under control.
Psalm 56:8 “You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book.”
Lamentations 3:22- 23 “Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.“
Romans 8:28 “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.“
Copyright July 7th, 2015 by Gwen Fredette
Scripture taken from NIV and NLT.