A Hope Deferred: Adoption and the Fatherhood of God by J. Stephen Yuille
Taking the 8th chapter of the book of Romans as his guide alongside his own personal adoption of a little girl from China, J. Stephen Yuille weaves together the doctrine of adoption from experience and Scripture. What stands out in this book entitled A Hope Deferred is the book’s reminder of the way God has adopted his children into his family by way of Christ and the privileges that entails from united to God’s Son. The combination of doctrinal teaching and narrative made the book a sure gem! The book is broken up into 14 chapters with seven chapters delineating the doctrine of adoption through Romans 8 while including 7 chapters on Stephen and his wife Alison’s experience in adopting a baby girl.
Stephen is wise to point out the three offices that Christ employs in his ministry, death and resurrection (prophet, priest and king). Of Jesus being our king, Stephen writes, “We need a king to break the power of sin…He also subdues our will, bringing it into line with God’s will…We need a king to protect us. We’re vulnerable to the flesh, the world, and the devil. We need someone to guard us from these enemies. We need Christ, the King, who breaks our enemies with a rod of iron” (33). Earlier Stephen writes, “We need a prophet to dispel the darkness that pervades our minds” (32). Jesus is the prophet, priest and king par excellence. At every point in his ministry, Jesus was drawing us to himself and showing revealing to us what it means to worship God. The incarnation was nothing less than the power of darkness and death being trampled upon and overturn by the death of a suffering servant. Stephen’s reminder of the work that Christ does on our behalf is both profound and illuminating for worship and work in this world.
As Alison and Stephen changed their focus to international adoption in China, they wrestled with prayer. Stephen with uncanny insight writes, “Contrary to popular opinion faith isn’t the confidence that anything can happen….It’s the confidence that what God has promised will happen. In prayer, we express our absolute dependence upon him” (101, 103). Rather than wishing upon a star for what our dream’s desire, faith it putting our trust in a God who fulfills his promises when even all circumstantial evidence is to the contrary. I think what Stephen is trying to get at is staying away from the view that says if you ask God for it sincerely; it will come to pass when God hasn’t promised it at all. Do we believe God for things or petitions that he hasn’t promised or are we bringing our lives before God so that he can shape us into more Christ-like followers? The intimacy we have with Almighty God is more important than a petitioning of vain objects.
Through heartache and joy, the Yuille’s finally became proud parents of an adopted baby girl from China. The long process took the wind out of their sails but not their strength in the Lord’s good work. I was reminded of God’s gracious work to transfer us from the kingdom of darkness to kingdom of His son by way of adoption. The only drawback for me in the book was an overemphasis on the Puritans. I have no problem with the Puritans but there have been some great books recently written that I think would have bolstered the book’s message (Robert A. Peterson, Adopted by God and Russell Moore, Adopted for Life). Overall, I think this book will be a great resource for both those looking for a robust biblical understanding of God’s inclusion of his children into His family and the ups and downs of the adoption process.
Thanks to Shepherd Press and Cross Focused Reviews for the copy of this book in exchange for review.