What does God say pure and undefiled religion is? James 1:27 clearly outlines what pure religion is. Pure religion is caring for the widows and caring for the orphans. Oftentimes, it is this verse that becomes the mantra for so many of us when our hearts begin to beat with a passion for the orphan. When we feel the tug towards adoption and foster care we remember that caring for the orphans is not suggested; it is required. We see the pictures of kids who go to bed without moms or dads, who end their days without bedtime stories, goodnight kisses, and prayerful parents.

We see some kids that look like they’ve never had a rich nutritious meal, and others whose clothes are shreds of what clothes should be with shoe-less feet and we think about James and we think about our families and something begins to burn within us. A curiosity drives us to research into the late night reading whatever we can find about adoption, and this only fuels a passion to help these children. For some that passion will result in prayerful discussions with spouses and then a joyous but unpredictable and life-altering road to adoption.

But what happens when it doesn’t? What happens when we feel that passion and that burden and our spouse doesn’t?

What happens if our spouse feels that desire and we don’t?

What happens when both parties want to adopt but life takes an unexpected turn, or God clearly closes that door?

How do we live our James 1:27 if God is not calling us to adopt (more?) today?

The problem is that there is a great need. There are over 18,000 children living in foster care in Arizona alone. There are children growing up in circumstances that we would not wish on a dog, let alone a person made in the image of God. This need tugs on our hearts, and it should do this. We should feel grieved at what sin has done this world and the youngest victims who oftentimes reap the consequences for actions they cannot comprehend, let alone commit. We should feel compelled to help. We should feel driven to our knees in prayer as we cry out to our great Father over the need of those without earthly fathers.

However, we err in thinking that adoption or foster care is the one way we can help. And when we run into a road block that prevents us from acting on our grief and our passion, it can be easy to grow bitter towards the roadblock or to turn away from the need and continue on as we did before we knew of it. Both of these reactions are sinful.

We ought to take our passion before the Lord and ask Him, our Wise and Faithful Creator, how we can fulfill James 1:27 in our Christian walk. If not to take a child into our home as our own, then what can we do? Can we do foster care? Can we find a family that is in the process of adopting and help them financially, fundraise with them, or take something off their plate? Can we support grant agencies with donations so they can help adopting families? Can we volunteer with foster care agencies? Can we go to Planned Parenthood and pray for the women who are going in to make an end to the life within them? Begging God to remove the veil of deception from their eyes and save the helpless babe isn’t a lifetime commitment for us, but that time spent before the Throne of God is vital. Can we encourage our churches on Orphan Sunday and raise awareness in the church about the need?

If the passion of adoption or orphan care stirs in your heart, I encourage you to take these passions on your knees before our Sovereign King and ask Him to show you how you can walk worthy of Him in orphan care. Our God is not limited by the possible or by what you think can happen. We get to plot and plan but the Lord directs our steps. If you feel passion but you feel it alone in your home, do not grow bitter. Pray for wisdom and guidance. If you feel passion but God has closed the door for now to growing your family, pray for how you can care for orphans in other ways.