Some people are blessed with a family that is supportive emotionally, financially, and even spiritually. For others, this has never been their reality. But I still believe there is a God out there who is taking action.
I met a woman in Haiti last spring who gave up her career in the United States to return to Haiti and start an orphanage, welcoming children as they wandered out of Port-au-Prince—where, on top of deep poverty and corruption, the earthquake crumbled thousands of families and homes. She wakes each day without knowing how she will feed 30 kids, but God consistently provides for them by sending his people with food, resources, and community.
I met a family the following summer in a suburb of Seattle who constantly open their home to men and women of the church, insisting that it isn’t really their home at all, but that their home is one home belonging to the family of God.
At one point, I met a young woman with a devastating childhood—already with young children of her own—who had been “adopted” by a family from her church, so they might support her legally.
God preserves his people as a faithful and sovereign father, using the weakest among us—the orphans and abandoned—to make his name great. One such servant is Esther.
During the reign of King Ahasuerus, better known as the great and powerful Xerxes, the kingdom of Persia entered a prosperous season, with control over provinces expanding “from India to Ethiopia” (Esther 1:1). During this season, Esther, an orphan among the Jewish people, was being raised and cared for by her cousin, Mordecai. King Xerxes, wrapped up in his own glory, dismissed his wife to find someone he deemed a more appropriate queen. It was at this point that Esther gained favor in the sight of king, and he made her his queen—throwing her a grand feast and blessing his provinces because of the joy she brought him.
But Esther, raised in the generous care of her cousin, remembered her identity—not as queen of a powerful empire, but as a humble daughter under the providence of God. Mordecai continued to look after his adopted daughter—checking in on her every day while she was living in the king’s palace. When he overheard a plot to overthrow the king, he told Esther, and she reported this to the king, giving Mordecai credit.
Later, when Mordecai refused to bow to Haman, a Persian official, Esther joined Mordecai to protect her people against Haman’s genocidal wrath. She hesitated at first—afraid of the king’s power and aware of her own fragility despite her position as queen—but Mordecai urged her to intervene on behalf of her family. Remembering her inheritance, she told her cousin:
“Go, gather all the Jews to be found in Susa, and hold a fast on my behalf, and do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. I … will always fast as you do. Then I will go to the king, though it is against the law, and if I perish, I perish” (Esther 4:15-16).
Esther went to the king on behalf of her people, and he listened to her plea and granted the Jewish people defense against the orders of Haman’s genocide. Esther very well could have claimed the glory as savior of the Jewish race for herself—but instead, she rememberd her family.
“On that day King Ahasuerus gave to Queen Esther the house of Haman, the enemy of the Jews. And Mordecai came before the king, for Esther had told what he was to her. And the king took off his signet ring and gave it to Mordecai. And Esther set Mordecai over the house of Haman” (Esther 8:1-2).
The bond between these two children of God redeems the tragedy of loss and transcends social definitions of family.
You might be a witness to abandonment, or have experienced first-hand the pain of a broken family. But Jesus, before he ascended to heaven, comforted his disciples, saying, “I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Matthew 28:20). And for the early church, these words gave them power to transcend all social norms to show others love.
Luke tells us that members of the early church, much like a family, “had all things in common” (Acts 4:32). Likewise, the apostle Paul writes to both Jews and non-Jewish people about their “adoption as sons through Jesus Christ,” and that “in him we have obtained an inheritance” (Ephesians 1:5, 10). What might it look like if we were to take hold of this incredible inheritance, step into our identity as God’s sons and daughters, and love each other like blood relatives would, united by Christ?
Globally, there are countless orphans and struggling single mothers. And this demands a response from us—the people who seek to emulate God, the “father of the fatherless and protector of widows” (Psalm 68:5). God doesn’t merely call us to care for these hurting sons and daughters, but also uses them to remind us of his sovereignty and provision. We are Jesus’ hands and feet until he returns to bring his kingdom to completion.
What does family look like in light of Jesus’ example? Or, in light of God’s provision for Esther and the Jewish people?
God has given us the opportunity to participate in a grand story, like Mordecai’s “written in the Chronicles of kings,” united in the inheritance made possible by Christ Jesus.
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Biblical references in this article are from the English Standard Version (ESV).