From before the beginning of time God intended that children grow up in God-centered families where reciprocal love was unbroken. Children were meant to live in families. That is the way it’s supposed to be. We all know this.
To see an orphan, then, is to be confronted with the reality that the world is not the way it’s supposed to be. We live in a world that has 132,000,000 orphaned and vulnerable children. The presence of orphans in this world is evidence that God’s world—the world that he described as “very good” when he made it—has been violated and corrupted by sin. This is the world we live in.
God’s original design for his world was that it would enjoy his shalom. Sin, though, has tragically violated God’s shalom. Shalom, as Cornelius Plantinga describes it, is “the webbing together of God, humans, and all creation in justice, fulfillment, and delight.” He continues:
“We call it peace, but it means far more than mere peace of mind or a cease-fire between enemies. In the Bible, shalom means universal flourishing, wholeness, and delight — a rich state of affairs in which natural needs are satisfied and natural gifts fruitfully employed, a state of affairs that inspires joyful wonder as its Creator and Savior opens doors and welcomes the creatures in whom he delights. Shalom, in other words, is the way things ought to be” (Not the Way It’s Supposed to Be: A Breviary of Sin, 10).
When sin entered the world through man, shalom began to unravel. Soon “the webbing together of God, humans, and all creation in justice, fulfillment, and delight” became a distant memory. One of the tragic consequences of sin’s entrance into the world is the presence of orphans. The orphan crisis is irrefutable evidence that this world is not the way it’s supposed to be.
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