The Goal of Foster Care – Reunification

Posted: Thursday, December 26, 2013 in Orphan Care

Family life can sometimes be messy. Often it does not follow God’s biblical plan. Sin is an issue in all households because all are sinners. On the best days, marriage consists of two sinners becoming one along with any number of sinful children. And yet – God is great, God is good!

Consider one family – that of Jacob, or, as he was later named, Israel. Polygamy, adultery, jealousy, premeditated murder, and more – much more. Not just messy, but heinously so. Striking – in the midst of it all is the narrative of Joseph. You know his story – the story of the first orphan. He was thrown into the pit, sold to Potiphar’s house, sentenced to prison, only to be released to Pharaoh’s palace. Because of his dreams his brothers wanted to kill him. However Reuben sees an opportunity to regain his birthright as the firstborn, a birthright lost when he slept with his “stepmother” Bilhah – messy! (Gen. 35:22; 49:4; 1 Chron. 5:1).  We read in Genesis 37:18-24:

[18] They saw him (Joseph) from afar, and before he came near to them they (his brothers) conspired against him to kill him. [19] They said to one another, “Here comes this dreamer. [20] Come now, let us kill him and throw him into one of the pits. Then we will say that a fierce animal has devoured him, and we will see what will become of his dreams.” [21] But when Reuben heard it, he rescued him out of their hands, saying, “Let us not take his life.” [22] And Reuben said to them, “Shed no blood; throw him into this pit here in the wilderness, but do not lay a hand on him”—that he might rescue him out of their hand to restore him to his father. [23] So when Joseph came to his brothers, they stripped him of his robe, the robe of many colors that he wore. [24] And they took him and threw him into a pit. The pit was empty; there was no water in it.

Even though Reuben’s motive in saving Joseph was self-centered and self-promoting, God’s purpose is seen in these words, ‘that he might rescue him out of their hand to restore him to his father.” Reuben’s plot is to have Joseph thrown into the pit, then he would return and rescue him. His brothers, failing to recognize his motive, agree with Reuben. Of course, the plan is foiled by the Midianite traders who sell Joseph to Potiphar in Egypt (Gen. 37:29-36).

But even though Reuben’s motives were selfish, God was using Reuben – and the Midianites and the Ishmaelites, and Potiphar and his wife (Gen. 39:1-20), and two prisoners and prison officials (Gen. 39:21-40:23), and Pharaoh and famine (Gen. 41:1-49). For what purpose?  Gen. 46:29-30 – [29] Then Joseph prepared his chariot and went up to meet Israel his father in Goshen. He presented himself to him and fell on his neck and wept on his neck a good while. [30] Israel said to Joseph, “Now let me die, since I have seen your face and know that you are still alive.” Joseph is reunited with his father and his family. What did Reuben say? “That he might rescue him out of their hand to restore him to his father.” And He did rescue Joseph – God did!

I have been asked to write a series of devotions on foster care for the Alabama Baptist Children’s Homes. I have selected this story of Joseph and the story of Moses to begin as they both demonstrate the main purpose of foster care – that the child be reunited with family. Sometimes this is not possible because of safety concerns. Sometimes it is not possible because the children are not wanted. Sometimes this is not possible, well, just because it is not possible. However, reunification, or, as Reuben put it, restoration, is always the goal. It might not seem possible – but with God all things are possible! What was Joseph’s godly assessment?

Genesis 50:18-21 – [18] His brothers also came and fell down before him and said, “Behold, we are your servants.” (Remember how this all began!!!) [19] But Joseph said to them, “Do not fear, for am I in the place of God? [20] As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today. [21] So do not fear; I will provide for you and your little ones.” Thus he comforted them and spoke kindly to them.

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