By Rob Schwarzwalder
The Incarnation was the single most unique event in both global and universal history.
With good reason: The Second Person of the Trinity being born of a virgin, then living a sinless life, dying an atoning death and experiencing a bodily resurrection, are events so astounding as to stagger the imagination. Since they really happened, being humbled and awed by them is altogether fitting.
There are a number of profound and probing stories associated with the birth of Jesus of Nazareth. The annunciation to Mary, the attendance of shepherds, the arrival of gift-bearing Eastern “wise men,” the birth in a manger and so many other incidents provide illumination to the Savior’s coming that more fully explain its unique meaning.
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One of those stories is that of Joseph. Described in the Greek New Testament as a “tekton,” or skilled carpenter or stone mason, Joseph’s moral purity, respect for his betrothed and quick obedience to God’s calling provide a compelling description of this extraordinary man.
Yet often overlooked is another facet of Joseph’s life: He was an adoptive father.
We do not know from Scripture what kind of relationship Joseph and Jesus had. Yet we can surmise that God the Father must have prepared Joseph in an exceptional way to serve as an earthly father to His only begotten Son.
Adoptive fathers, and mothers, are still needed. The U.S. Agency for International Development says that in 2010, the number worldwide will be roughly 44 million. In our own country, the estimates of the number of orphans vary widely; according to the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute, about “125,000 children and youth in foster care are available for adoption because parental rights have been terminated.”
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My three children are adopted. They are not my wife’s or mine biologically but before God and the law, they are as much ours as if they had been fashioned from our own bodies. We love them with the same depth all parents have for the children born to them.
Adopted children pose no greater or lesser challenges than biological children. Any stereotypes one has about adopted children can be dispelled quickly by the simple realization that concerns about an adopted child can readily be replicated about a biological child. Adopting older children can, of course, present unique challenges, and prayer and counsel should be sought before such an adoption – just as they should before any major life decision.
The purpose of this short piece is not to induce guilt in anyone. God might not be calling you or your family to adopt. To suggest otherwise would be pretentious and even cruel. I simply would urge anyone reading this prayerfully to consider if adoption might be something toward which the Lord might be moving you.
The answer might well be no. But asking our heavenly Father for His guidance is always a good thing.
Joseph became the adoptive father of the most exceptional Child ever to live on our planet. May his conduct inspire all of us to consider what God might want us to do with respect to adoption in the New Year.