Recently my pastor preached a sermon on an obscure passage of Scripture — verses that I’ve ostensibly glossed over in the past without realizing their significance.

Most of us know the story of Caleb, friend of Joshua and one of 12 spies sent to investigate the Promised Land (Numbers 13). Because he brought back a favorable report, Caleb was blessed by the Lord and allowed to enter in, unlike the faithless of his generation who perished in the wilderness. He gave his daughter, Aksah, in marriage to another honorable warrior, Othniel. And as a wedding gift, he also gave her a parcel of land in the Negev.

There was just one problem — the Negev is a desert.

A Simple Request

In Joshua 15, we find Aksah petitioning her father with the confidence that he will be gracious to her.

“‘Do me a special favor,’” she says. “‘Since you have given me land in the Negev, give me also springs of water.’ So Caleb gave her the upper and lower springs” (v.19).

How does all of this relate to the topic of adoption? Like Caleb’s wedding present, adoption is a wonderful gift from a loving heavenly Father. In the spiritual sense, it is being freely welcomed into the Body of Christ, the family of God. In the physical sense, it is a chance to welcome the orphan into an earthly family.

But at times, the reality that this gift is a desert — a one-way ticket to the wilderness — becomes strikingly evident. Fortunately, God mercifully met His people in the wilderness many times, with unmerited favor in the form of protection, provision and the fullness of His presence to encourage and sustain them (Exodus 33:12-15).

A Sobering Reality

As my husband and I pursued our license to adopt and completed training through the Department of Child and Family Services (DCFS), we heard horror stories of children who were being bounced from foster home to foster home on an almost weekly basis. Abuse, neglect, mental illness, emotional trauma, you name it — many of the children currently in foster care have experienced unimaginable wounding. Incidentally, even in private adoptions, parents never quite know the extent to which heredity will have an impact on the children they welcome into their homes.

There are times as a mother when I feel helpless to know how to relate to my own adopted son,  and I’m reminded that this is only the beginning of his life. In these moments, like Aksah, I must turn to my heavenly Father for fresh grace . . . for springs in the desert.

A Sweet Refreshing

Did you know that centuries after Aksah’s request, the Negev is being reclaimed as a green, lush and fertile place — a tourists dream? As the coastal plain extends southward, according to one Israeli travel website, the Negev has become the only desert in the world that is “reversing the global trend of desertification.” I hope you will be reminded of this story every time you hear about someone whose life was dramatically changed by God’s gift of adoption.

Maybe you’re not a foster parent, adoptive parent or caregiver, but you know someone who is that could use your support and your prayers. Or perhaps there is a young person in your church or community who you could come alongside — a child or a teen in a challenging situation who could use a godly mentor. May the Lord open our hearts and open our eyes to see the ways we can bring His refreshment to others (Proverbs 11:25).

This is part two of a pair of articles on adoption by Jessica Bernthal. Read part one, “God Uses Adoption to Make Disciples,” here.