Our youngest two children were 11 and 15 when we adopted them, having lost their biological parents about seven years earlier. Exactly six months after they arrived from Ethiopia, the Watoto Children’s Choir performed at Trinity Christian College, where we were living.

The choir is made up of Ugandan children left parentless because of war and disease. It was great for our sons to discover a part of Africa right in their backyard. The lasting impact for them and our family, was a song the choir sang: “I Am Not Forgotten.” We bought the CD and nearly wore it out. Some of the words are these:

I am not forgotten
I am not forgotten
I am not forgotten
God knows my name
He knows my name

. . . Father to the fatherless
Friend to the friendless
Hope for the hopeless
He knows my name

This song said it all. Our sons had been baptized according to Ethiopian Orthodox practice at 40 days after birth. Despite their losses, God didn’t forget his promises to them while they waited and waited for an adoptive family. Now flourishing at Trinity Christian College, their lives demonstrate God’s strength over weakness.

And God’s promises are not limited to just a few. Consider these words from Ephesians 2:19-22: “Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household,  built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.”

Orphans, foreigners, and strangers no more. What good news! It’s the news that’s made real with the birth of Christ in a stable and proclaimed by the angels: “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”

As you read these words, it is Advent—a time of waiting. All of us wait, for one reason or another. Some wait for adoption; others wait for the end of displacement; still others wait for an estranged son or daughter to return home.

In many respects, our entire lives are times of waiting. When we strip away our human pride and confidence, we recognize that this process of sanctification—bringing us from our former lives as orphans, foreigners, or strangers to new life in Christ—is just that: a process and time of waiting. 

Waiting doesn’t mean we’ve been forgotten. As we wait, we are being changed, building new lives in Christ. 

As you and I wait during this time of Advent, remember that God never forgets us. Because of Christ’s sanctifying work in our lives, we are to shine while we wait—light in this present darkness. “Ere zij God in den hoge!” (“Glory to God in the highest”).

About the Author

Steven Timmermans is executive director of the Christian Reformed Church in North America.