Moses, adoption and the Church - Part 3: Support

Exploring what support for foster and adoptive families could look like.

This is the third in a three-part series of articles, exploring key themes in Moses’ story that we believe will encourage and equip the Church to better understand and support adopted and fostered children and their families.

Part 1: Family (from Exodus 1 and 2) Part 2: Identity (from Exodus 3 and 4) Part 3: Support (from Exodus 17)

Finally, the Israelites are free to leave Egypt. By the grace of God they are rescued, and Moses leads them on the exodus away from slavery, towards the land they have been promised.

And there begins a whole host of other problems.

Firstly, there is the pressing issue of needing water and food for the community of hundreds of thousands. Exodus 15.22-17.7 outlines how God miraculously provided sustenance for the Israelites through manna and quail, and explains how Moses must twice respond to His command so that water can be sourced.

At Marah (Exodus 15.22-25) there is water but it is too bitter to drink, and at Rephidim (Exodus 17.1-7) there isn’t even any water to begin with. In both places God ensures that His people have the water they need, but for this to happen Moses must do as He asks, and what He asks is, in all honesty, rather odd.

There is no logical reason why chucking a random plank of wood into the bitter streams at Marah or hitting a rock with a stick at Rephidim would provide drinking water, but that was what the Lord requested.

And Moses faithfully responded.

In a world that so often prioritises personal comfort and self-interest, there are few logical reasons to foster or adopt. It could even be considered a ‘rather odd’ thing to do, putting yourself and your family in a hard place that so often hurts, taking on the pain of others, caring for children who are not biologically connected to you and so often come with extra baggage from the trauma they have experienced.

And yet, like Moses, so many foster carers and adoptive parents faithfully respond to God’s calling so that His precious children are cared for.

While at Rephidim, the Israelites encounter another big problem: the advancing Amalekite army.

Moses has been mentoring a young man called Joshua, and he is chosen to lead the Israelites into battle while Moses climbs a hill to pray over them as they fight (Exodus 17.8-10). As Moses raises his arms in prayer the Israelites are successful in taking ground, but whenever Moses’ hands drop down the Amalekites surge forward (Exodus 17.11).

How hard must it have been for Moses to watch Joshua and so many others he cared for, fighting and struggling whenever his arms fell, knowing that he had a responsibility to them – a responsibility that God had called him to – but he wasn’t strong enough to keep going.

Thankfully, Moses is not alone.

His brother Aaron and a friend named Hur have climbed the hill with him, and they stand on either side encouraging him to persevere. And when it gets too much, they find something for Moses to sit on, and they take the weight of his arms (Exodus 17.12). They share in his burden.

With Aaron and Hur to uphold him, Moses is able to remain steady in his task, and Joshua and the Israelite army defeat the Amalekites.

Moses was the one called to lead Israel, to care for Israel, to pray for Israel and keep them safe, but that didn’t mean he had to do it all on his own. In fact, he couldn’t. He needed the support of others.

There is so much that we as the Church can learn from all of this.

We need to recognise that responding to the call of God (whatever that call may be) does not mean that life will be easy. The Israelites were exactly where God wanted them to be – they had followed his pillar of cloud each day and his pillar of fire each night – and yet still trouble came. Still they ran out of food. Still the water was bitter. Still the Amalekites attacked.

Sometimes you can be exactly where God needs you to be, doing exactly what he is calling you to do, and hard times still come. Not because God has made them happen, but because it is an inevitable part of life. And it is even more likely that you will encounter trials and troubles when you are engaged in caring for the vulnerable and ministering in places of pain.

Fostering and adoption are unlikely to ever be easy. Yes, hopefully there will be joy along the way, but the reality is there will also be many challenges.

If you foster or have adopted and it feels as though there is no food left, or the water is bitter, or the Amalekites are attacking, or you simply can’t raise your arms up any longer, try not to doubt your calling or doubt that God is with you.

And although you, like Moses, were the one called to do this, that doesn’t mean you have to do it alone. You can’t. (And you probably already know this.)

Which is why we need the Church so much.

We need more Aarons and more Hurs, willing to give up their time, comfort, energy and skills, to stand with foster carers and adopters (and sometimes to keep standing while they have a sit down). To pray, to practically support, to listen, to love, to welcome, to be willing to adapt and change where necessary.

To keep supporting when it gets uncomfortable or even painful, to keep going when there are no easy answers and nothing is getting any better, to keep loving and hoping in the face of rejection, doubt and fear, to keep praying when there is nothing else left you can do.

Could we as the Church in the UK be an unwavering support in the midst of the battle? Could we commit to upholding foster and adoptive families in prayer, even when it becomes uncomfortable? Could we recognise that the calling to foster or adopt will rarely be easy, and without judgement, blame or expectation, simply walk with those who have responded to God in this way?

We love how so many individuals, families and churches are already doing this. We hope that being reminded of Moses’ call to lead Israel through troubles and his need for Aaron and Hur will spur you on to continue in this wonderful work of being the Church – a loving family of committed support that desperately needs one another.

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