Trusting God Through Turbulent Times
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Both Michael and Lauren grew up in the church and were raised by Christian parents. They became believers at an early age and today work in Christian contexts. Lauren is the daughter of Steve Green, founder of the Museum of the Bible in Washington, D.C., and president of Hobby Lobby. Lauren works as the Corporate Ambassador at Hobby Lobby and travels the country speaking about faith, business ethics, and Bible engagement in America. Michael works at the Museum of the Bible bringing people together to explore the most influential book in the world. He is also a teaching pastor at the church where he met Lauren when she was seven years old.
ADOPTION & INFERTILITY
After enduring seven long years of trying to adopt internationally while also trying to have their own biological children, doctors confirmed their fears of infertility. When they were matched with a little girl from China, they were elated. Their daughter, Zion, was one and a half years old when they brought her home. Yet, seven weeks later during a routine examination, Lauren and Michael were blindsided when doctors told them that Zion had cancer. Not long after the routine exam, they found a tumor on her liver that ended up being cancerous. After months of hospital stays, surgery, and chemotherapy, Zion went into remission in January 2020. Everyone rejoiced, and Michael and Lauren went from living their worst nightmare to rejoicing as well. Wanting so badly for life to return to normal, they did their best to do just that. What they didn’t expect was what would hit them when the adrenaline of keeping their baby girl alive, wore off.
One day while Lauren was in a meeting her chest began to tighten and hours later, she couldn’t ignore the pain. She drove herself to the emergency room and was told she was experiencing a panic attack. Later, while on the phone with a family friend who is also a therapist, she realized she had not allowed herself to process the fear of losing her daughter. Lauren explains, “When we face painful circumstances, we’ve got to register that pain. Otherwise, it will run roughshod through our bodies and hearts, leaving destruction in its wake.”
Honestly, they didn’t think they should grieve because their daughter survived while countless others succumbed to cancer every day. But not allowing themselves to grieve was only making things worse. "The Bible never said we're going to have easy, perfect lives," says Lauren Green McAfee in a live interview. "We don't have to give our perfectly wrapped-up-with-a-bow selves to God. He knows, and He's with us in it.”
When Zion was two years old, they decided to pursue adoption for a second time, choosing a domestic open adoption. They were matched quickly and brought home a son named Ezra, as a newborn. After Ezra’s biological mom chose Lauren and Michael to be his parents, the legal proceedings were slowed due to COVID-19. During that time of waiting, a family member contested their adoption of Ezra. After the judge ruled, Lauren and Michael were given two hours to hand Ezra over to a biological family member. They weren’t allowed to have any contact with him. It was a devastating heartbreak. Again, they turned to God with their brokenness and He walked with them through the pain. Feeling called to adopt again, a year after losing Ezra, little baby Zara came into their lives. They finalized the adoption and now have two daughters: Zion and Zara.
One of the biggest misconceptions that Christians deal with is how to handle unmet expectations. We think if we serve God, go to church, make moral choices, and do the right things, our prayers will be answered and things will go the way we plan. Yet, God never promised that. When things happen that are beyond our control or the dreams we had for our lives die, many believers become disillusioned. Michael says, “What happens when we start placing expectations on how God will or should act based on our interpretation of Scripture and our unexamined assumptions of life itself? I call these ‘entitled expectations.'” He goes on to explain that these expectations make assumptions on how we think our life “should” go.
When we examine the life of Christ, we find something different. He experienced joy, peace, love, heartbreak, and pain during His time here on earth. Yet, God never left or forsook His Son. God knew in the end the outcome would benefit humanity more than eliminating the pain Jesus would have to bear on the cross. In like manner, God didn’t promise us that life would be without hardship. Rather, He promised to walk through that hardship with us.
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