by Vera Christian
On September 17, 2012, Anah Joy Christian joined our family. She was seven at the time, born with Down Syndrome. Her records indicate that she was found at a road crossing in China, abandoned shortly after birth.
I did not aspire to be an adoptive parent. If Pastor Cory had not issued the invitation during the worship service, I would not have even thought about adopting. I was perfectly content with our three biological children. There was plenty for me to do, between daily life, homeschooling, and ministry. Where would I have time to squeeze in the care of someone who was so needy?
But perhaps that was the problem. There wasn’t room in my heart.
It is so easy for me to get tunnel vision, to focus only on my cares and worries. These put a blinder on my eyes to the greater needs around me. But they also encourage a smallness of heart that does not befit a child of the King.
And so, God, in His infinite goodness and wisdom, allowed Anah to come into my life.
I wish I could say that I surrendered willingly to the shaping work of God, but instead, I have fought Him. You might expect more from a pastor’s wife, but the truth is, I have never sunk so low. Again, I believe it is God’s grace that He forces me to face the dire need I have for a Savior.
It is easy to think that I am here to help Anah, but more and more, I am realizing that perhaps sent her here to help me.
• To deepen my understanding of the Gospel
• To challenge my unchallenged assumptions about the
• To pinpoint the sin that keeps me from becoming like
• To refine the rough edges of my character
• To enlarge the smallness of my heart
• To shed light on the immense love and grace of God
In times like these, I am humbled by Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians 1:27-29—“But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God.” Through the grumbling, questioning, and struggling, this verse reminds me afresh the pride of my heart. Who do I think I am anyway, that I should know better than God?
I wish I could say that this realization has resulted in a 180-degree turn for me, but it hasn’t. As I think of Anah, turning thirteen in April but still thinking with the mind of a toddler, I fear for the future. I often find myself feeling depressed, trying not to feel sorry for myself.
In these moments, God needs to remind me that He is in control. He has not brought her into my life to punish me. His plans for me through her are for my welfare—to forge in me the heart, character, and nature of Christ. I wish there were some other way, but His ways are not mine (Is 55:8-9).
And so I will trust that His plans for me will not come back void, that He will accomplish what He desires. Until then, I must surrender—letting Him stretch me, mold me, and put me through the fire so that I may one day more closely become as Christ. Anah is His tool to enlarge my small heart.
Perhaps you are not struggling with a special needs child, but you are questioning the wisdom of God’s direction in your life. It could be a thorny relationship, the loss of a dream, an unfair situation—something you would not choose for yourself.
Instead of trying to figure out how to get out of it, let us try to learn how to grow in it and through it, clinging to God’s sovereign wisdom and grace. Our struggles just might be His invitation to growth, if we are willing to take it.