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Lamentations 1:16 For these things I weep; my eyes flow with tears; for a comforter is far from me, one to revive my courage; my children are desolate, for the enemy has prevailed.

For whom and for what do you weep?

As a Court Appointed Special Advocate for children in foster care, this Lamentations verse hits full force. The family of one of my appointed children is experiencing, for the second time in two years, challenges that bring great sorrow and heartbreak instead of the expected joy. As an advocate for this child’s best interest, I also pray and advocate meaningful change for the mother. A reunification seems unlikely.For this child and for this mother I weep. I lift up my eyes to the mountains — where does my help and comfort come from? (Ps. 121:1)

In difficulty, who or what comforts and encourages you?

Before attending a court hearing, my supervising Guardian ad Litem dons an imaginary suit of armor: sword drawn to demand needed services for a child, lance thrusted to maintain a child’s school placement. The GAL loses some battles but continues to fight in each child’s war.In Ephesians 6:12 Paul writes, “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.”

and Philip Yancey in Why Pray writes, “Evil looms like a great iron gate — “the gates of hell” in Jesus’ image — and prayers hit against it like hammer strokes. Gates don’t threaten or even advance. They just stand there, awaiting the onslaught. Our prayers may seem as tinny as the sound a hammer makes when it bounces off a sheet of metal, but we have Jesus’ strong promise that the gates of hell will not prevail. They will surely fall, shattering into pieces like the Berlin Wall that once divided Germany.”

These reminders, the mystery of God’s heavenly battle and the horrors of our wars, renew my sense of purpose and hope — worship God, pray for my ensnared neighbor, and continue to wrestle against evil.  My [comfort and courage] comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth.

“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” and “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (Psalm 121:2, Deut. 31:6, John. 16:33)

Jesus asks, “Why are you afraid?”

To fear is human.  In Mark 4 the disciples are afraid in a great storm and, once Jesus calms it, they feel a new terror — awe. Sometimes I feel like a disciple in that storm, helpless in the storm that rages around me. I am not alone in the boat — caseworkers, attorneys, the GAL and the judge all strive to preserve the boat and the lives onboard — sometimes we will be unsuccessful.

In Advent and our baptism, we proclaim the Coming of Christ — our salvation and transformation — and my fears of this life become an awe of hope and faith in the Babe in a manger, the One asleep in the boat, and the Risen One.

The Psalmist declares in chapter 27, “I am still confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.” And I do. I see the Lord’s goodness through the innocence of a baby, in the midst of this storm, developing love and relationship with the foster family. I see the Lord’s goodness in foster families who open their homes and hearts in a brave demonstration of God’s kingdom come. I see the Lord’s goodness in services and agencies offering special care to children at risk.

So, I am reminded to “taste and see that the Lord is good.”  I am “blessed to take refuge in Him.” (Ps. 34:8)  God’s Kingdom answers Lamentations with a Great Joy, a Perfect Peace, an Everlasting Love and a future where “God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes, and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain; for the former things are passed away.” (Rev. 21:4)

Lord Jesus, your body and blood sustains us on our journey, strengthen us to care for the least of your beloved children, and give us glad and generous hearts as we meet you on the way. Amen.