I have a confession to make. Sometimes when I start a new book, I immediately turn to the end of the story to see what is going to happen. In the same vein, I often read spoilers to know what is going to happen in a television show I am watching. I want to protect myself from being surprised by a bad ending.

My desire to know the end before I even start is constantly challenged by our involvement in foster care. Our family has had multiple children in and out of our home, and there is only one thing that you can count on with foster care:  you have no idea what is going to happen when the Department of Social Services (DSS) is involved. Many aspects of our family life— where we live, what kind of trips we can take— are subject to the whim of a court that does not even know our family. For someone who likes to be in control and make plans, not knowing the future can be a nightmare. I am learning I can put my trust in one sure thing: God.

Trusting God in the Beginning

When we take in a foster child, it is often on short notice. The state (DSS) calls and tells us a case worker is on the way with a child. Many times, the grief the child feels is overwhelming and heartbreaking. There have been times when our other children woke up in the morning with a new child in the house who was not there the night before. It disrupts family patterns and routines. Immediately, I jump into planning mode, arranging doctor visits, school registrations, counseling, and other services. I secure clothing and other needed items. These plans are difficult to make when I don’t know how long a child will be with us. It’s overwhelming to know where to begin. Often, I return to a verse in 2 Chronicles: “We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you” (v. 12). The Lord lifts my eyes from the craziness of the circumstances and walks with me through the next steps He would have us to take.

Trusting God in the Middle

Often in foster cases, the child’s birth family is still involved. DSS schedules visits for the child to visit with parents and siblings. When we first began fostering, I admit things were very black and white for me. I assumed that because these parents had children in the system, they must be “bad parents.” The more that we have been involved in foster care, the more I have seen how this is not true. As we have gotten to know the child’s biological parents, we often see how a bad decision or a string of bad decisions have ramifications for everyone. God enabled us to build relationships and show compassion to those whose children we care for— to honor their birth families and existing relationships. It has been humbling to see how the brokenness in other families often mirrors the brokenness in my own, creating common ground. Involvement in another family’s story can be messy, but we find time and time again that “the Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit” (Ps. 34:18).

Trusting God in the End

We recently had a disrupted placement for a child we have been in relationship with for a long time. Our entire family is hurting and grieving; the child is hurting and grieving. It is hard for our friends to know how to respond to a situation where a child is there one day and then not the next. We do not know what is going to happen in this child’s case or what the Lord may provide for the future, but we trust that God loves this child more than we ever could. We trust that God has plans that we do not see and is working through the gospel seeds we planted while the child was with us. And we grieve that things did not work out the way we wanted. We trust that God is the one that is ultimately writing this story— both the story of our foster children and our family’s story. My faith is not in things working out. My faith is in the God who has called us into this holy work.

Though I like to sneak a peek at the end of a book to know what will happen in the story, only God knows the full story of my life and that of the children we foster. I am reminded of the truth of Isaiah 46:9-10 that, “[He] is God, and there is no other… declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things not yet done, saying, ‘[His] counsel shall stand, and He will accomplish all His purpose.’” I can trust Him no matter where this journey takes us Though I can’t see the future, I know that God is going before us, and I can trust Him until the end.

About the Author:

Shea Patrick

Shea Patrick is a former Alabama lawyer, now SAHM living in Orangeburg, South Carolina. She and her pastor-hubby have four children, including two adopted from foster care. She serves as the Regional Advisor for the Mid-Atlantic Region. Shea loves live music, reading, and watching reruns of the Golden Girls and Designing Women. She loves her church, Trinity Presbyterian, and serves with the kids, music, missions, and women’s ministry.