Buckner Devotional “Abba, Father”

Our good friends at Alliance member Buckner International recently published a devotional titled Abba, Father: A 30 day devotional guide celebrating the Hope of Family.   Thirty short readings paired with Scripture passage explore topics ranging from foster care to theology of adoption to the church’s role in orphan care.  Many of the authors are individuals whose leadership in this realm I deeply appreciate, from Gary Haugen of IJM to Senator Jim Inhofe to NCFA’s Chuck Johnson.  The full PDF can be downloaded for free HERE.  Meanwhile, I’ll share the devotional I wrote for the book below.

Beauty and Brokenness

Psalm 22:1-5

The Psalms weave together both blinding beauty and aching brokenness.   They sing and weep, celebrate and groan.  “Taste and see that the Lord is good…”[i]  “For I eat ashes as my food and mingle my drink with tears…”[ii]  “The earth is the Lords and everything in it.”[iii]  “The darkness is my only friend.”[iv]

Why such profound contrast?  Because this is the truth of the world we inhabit.  When God saw all that he had made, he pronounced it, Very good![v]  But creation has been marred and bent by sin, almost beyond recognition.    And yet—thanks be to God!—there is more to the story.  God has effected a great stratagem of restoration.  He pursues and rescues what seemed hopelessly lost.   Though sin left us destitute and alone, God adopts us and invites us call Him Abba, and to live as His true sons and daughters.

Perhaps nowhere do we see our world’s beauty and brokenness more vividly than in the plight of the orphan.  What could be more lovely and very good than a precious child?  And yet, what could be more tragic than to see this child forced to face the world alone, without lullaby or defense against those who would exploit and oppress?

And yet—again, thanks be to God!—this is not all there is to the story.  God describes Himself as a “defender of the fatherless.”[vi]  And He calls His people to do the same.[vii]  Just as he pursued and rescued us, we are to pursue and rescue the orphan.  We love not only because He first loved us, but also in much the same way.

This realization carries a warning, too.  We must know from the start that to pursue and rescue the orphan mirrors the Gospel story not only in its beauty, but in its costliness, too.   A child’s journey as an orphan always begins in tragedy.  Usually, it gets worse from there.  So the sacrifice and perseverance required to bring healing and wholeness to this wounded boy or girl can sometimes feel like a cross.

With this in clear view, we would do well to “count the cost” before answering God’s invitation to love the fatherless as He does.  But if still willing to step forward, we can know this:  joy awaits us that cannot be found in the comfort, control or convenience we may lose in the process.  To love the orphan in her distress joins us fully in the weeping and singing, groaning and celebration of the Psalms.  It reveals in action, not just words, the Gospel story.  Ultimately, it allows us to experience a beauty and brokenness of a kind we can only know when we reflect God’s heart for a beautiful and broken world.

[i] Psalm 34:8

[ii] Psalm 102:9

[iii] Psalm 24:1

[iv] Psalm 88:18

[v] Genesis 1:31

[vi] Dt. 10:18, Psalm 10:18

[vii] Psalm 82:3, Isaiah 1:17