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The Honor of Knowing Them
By Kinsey Thurlow on November 27th, 2012

I sat beside him at our small table, looking at the back of his bowed head, which he had again angrily thumped down on the table after a frustrating bout of reading. I felt nearly drained of all ideas. He’d broken all my pencils, refused to read my books, and crawled under the table to escape—thankfully I was able to encourage him back up to his chair. What was I going to do with this kid? Certainly, my heart felt pained for him, for his insecurity, for his fear of failing. But admittedly, my patience felt threatened, and calling it quits for the day and sending him back to his dorm seemed like the most logical idea.

But as he, at last, lifted up his head again, and I looked into his eyes swirling with pained anger, I heard the Father speak to me– words so clear, they were undeniable. “It is an honor to know him.” His words wrapped around my soul and calmed my impatient heart, and staring eye to eye with this little boy, I instantly believed that these words were true. It truly was an honor to know this fatherless boy.

I remembered more fatherless children I’d known– their challenges and their glories; their quirks and their creativity; their shut-down-silence and their endless jabbering; their anger and their vulnerability. I remembered the ten-year-old girl who clung to me and wouldn’t let go. I remembered the fifteen-year-old who made sport of throwing things at me. I remembered the four-year-old boy on too much medication who was dreadfully afraid of the dark. I remembered the nine-month-old baby, frail in body, who shakily held out his arms to be picked up. And as I’ve remembered each one, I’ve heard the Father say the same, “Oh, it is an honor to know them.”

Of these fatherless children, God has said of Himself, “I am a Father to them” (Psalm 68:5). These broken-hearted ones are those He draws near to (Psalm 34:18). These who have taken the lowest place in society are the ones He highly esteems. It is for these orphaned children that God has named Himself Defender (Deuteronomy 10:18). And looking after these children, many of whom fall into the more-than-just-a-little-rough-around-the-edges category, is what the Father in heaven has defined as pure, undefiled religion (James 1:27).

There is something so significant about these rough-and-tumble orphans; for through them, God has revealed truths about Himself. Knowing and experiencing certain facets of His character may remain greatly limited so long as the fatherless remain to us ideas and pictures rather than names, personalities, and destinies. Knowing them, personally, can lead us into a greater knowing of Him—the One who has called Himself their Father.

The mandate given to us is to visit the fatherless and the widow in their distress. It is a call to actually spend time with them — to know them. And God, being so gracious towards us, never asks us to do anything He hasn’t first done Himself. He, their Father and Defender — who knows their names, their stories, and their hurts—is He who dwells among the lowly, and He Himself is there among them, visiting them in their distress. He knows them.

And for us, it is truly an honor to get into and personally experience the lives of these children. So may we pursue this honor, and search them out… and really know these to whom God, Father of the fatherless, has attached His name.

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