We use the word adoption very casually today. We speak of adopting pets, books, and highways. Yet the word has a far nobler significance. Adoption is the permanent placement of a child in a family with all its rights and privileges. God has forever placed us in his family. He has forever made us his children. He has forever changed our legal status. He has forever granted us an inheritance. He has forever lavished his love upon us. A Hope Deferred probes the depths of this wonderful reality by unfolding the six blessings of adoption as found in Romans 8. It intertwines these blessings with an account of one family s journey to international adoption a journey encompassing twenty years, four continents, and countless joys and sorrows. The result is a valuable glimpse into the essential relationship between adoption, affliction, and the fatherhood of God over his people.
A Hope Deferred: Adoption and the Fatherhood of God. By J. Stephen Yuille. Wapwallopen, Penn.: Shepherd Press, 2013. 146 pages. ISBN-13: 978-1936908783. $12.56.
This book leads us on a journey that is full of twists and surprises. Woven into the narrative are the richly colored threads of a superb practical application of Paul’s teaching in Romans 8. And this is punctuated with the wisdom of the past masters of the Christian life. A good read, a moving story, and a great help-all in one. –Sinclair B. Ferguson, Redeemer Seminary
How long, O Lord? is a piercing Biblical cry which Stephen and Alison Yuille lived over many years of praying that God would give them children. In the end, God granted them two daughters, and a deeper knowledge of His fatherly love in Jesus Christ. This book is a precious mosaic of personal stories and biblical teaching that go straight to the heart. –Dr. Joel R. Beeke, President Reformed Theological Seminary
In A Hope Deferred J. Stephen Yuille gives a theology of adoption into the family of God, under His fatherhood. The project of the book is primarily accomplished by expositing Romans 8. Yuille draws from the passage “six blessings of adoption”, and expounds upon each of them in alternating chapters.
1. Cleansed Sins
2. Renewed Affections
3. Satisfied Longings
4. Answered Prayers
5. Sanctified Afflictions
6. Defeated Enemies
Bringing the struggles he and his wife experienced into the work, Yuille has constructed the book with a twofold focus. In the even numbered chapters the reader learns of the Yuilles struggles with infertility and childbirth, ultimately culminating in the adoption of their second daughter. However, the chapters are not pure autobiography. Yuille shares lessons and insights into the work of God that he gleaned at these stages of his life.
Based on the introduction, Yuille’s goal with this book was to encourage others by sharing his story of the adoption he and his wife engaged in to grow their family. Additionally he set out to share “six blessings of adoption” from Romans 8. I will evaluate each of these projects in turn, then the relationship between them.
Theologically Focused Chapters
On the positive side, the exposition chapters contain clear, solid discussion. These sections were easy to follow and well organized. There were several points or passages that I underlined because they were well-put and profound, bringing to light the Fatherhood of God and the glory of adoption. While the book lacks any background information on the author (aside from what is revealed through the story chapters), it became clear through reading that Yuille came from a reformed theological background. The book could be a beneficial tool for a study in Romans 8, specifically for a group with this same theological leaning.
On the other hand, though I tend to agree with most of reformed theology, there were times when I found the theological viewpoint to be distracting and unnecessary. For example, asserting a robust view of the sovereignty of God raises questions about the origin and purpose of evil. Granted, these questions might be more fitting for another book entirely, but since Yuille raises the issue, his lack of addressing it seems to be an omission.
As a critique of the style of the book I will quote the author himself, who states on page 30, “this is going to be a little tedious, but stay with me.” Clearly, he’s only intending to refer to the particular point discussed in the pages following, but I found myself reminded of that statement throughout much of the book. In many cases the well-organized structure of the book felt to me as though I was reading a point-by-point outline, rather than a finished, engaging work.
Autobiographically Focused Chapters:
Based on the back-cover summary and introduction I expected these chapters to be purely autobiographical. I expected to be drawn in to Yuille and his wife’s experience and to feel the longing of the process with them. In actuality, these chapters begin with the adoption story for an average of three pages; the remainder of these chapters is spent expounding on various theological truths (e.g. prayer, the knowledge of God, faith, etc.). When considered as personal illustrations or introductions to theological discussions, the personal story of Yuille and his wife are effective and accomplish their goal. However, my expectation to be drawn into Yuille’s experience was not fulfilled.
Instead of flowing together or enhancing each other, the alternating chapters caused the book to feel disjointed, as if the author was trying to accomplish two (or three) projects rather than one. I found several passages of the book informative and interesting, but for me, these experiences were sporadic.
While still a worthy attempt at addressing this important topic, I found myself comparing this book to others I have read that seemed to succeed in ways that this one did not.
Ultimately, I had hoped for more from A Hope Deferred.
This book was provided free from Shepherd Press with my promise to post an unbiased review.