Last week I told you about an adoption devotional I’m working on, specifically for adopting moms. I’m writing some of the weeks, and I’m privileged to have moms who’ve adopted writing other weeks. This sample is from Day 1 of the week on fear, written by Tonja Ihlenfeldt. She and her family lived with us during a portion of their fostering process in Nicaragua. I am honored to call them friends. Tonja is a talented artist, a devoted mom and wife, and a faithful Christ-follower. In talking about fear, she tackles a serious issue so many parents struggle with, both in the adoption process and while raising kids.
Fear (Day 1)
In recent years, we found ourselves surrounded by friends who adopted. While we whole-heartedly supported their ventures, we never dreamed we would add more children to our already large family. However, God dropped into our hearts a boy who needed us.
After months of searching, mounds of paperwork, and tons of money, we left to adopt a brother (and his sister!) in Nicaragua, with neither a photo nor any sort of biographical information about the kids. What we did have was a God-given promise that this was His will for us. The greatest stretch of my faith, during our four months in Central America, was to not let fear take over in my life.
Living in a foreign country, away from all of our family and friends, while fostering two older children, is a formula that immediately equals fear. All of the preliminary planning and excitement of following God’s plan to adopt did not prepare me for the fear I would deal with during our fostering period. Within the first few days we experienced earthquakes, a car accident, extreme heat, lack of housing, and an inability to communicate with our adoption attorney. Fear quickly began to try to make it’s home in my mind.
I needed answers, and fast. So I asked God for help. Philippians 4 is what He used to pull me out of the “snare of fear” that threatened to overwhelm me.
“Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice! Let your gentleness be known to all men. The Lord is at hand. Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.” (Philippians 4:4-8 NKJV)
With this passage, God showed me four clear steps that I began to use as a formula to avoid fear. After all, God tells us in Isaiah 41:10 to “Fear not, for I am with you.” If God says not to be afraid there has to be a way to get rid of it!
Step 1: Rejoice in the Lord.
First, remind yourself daily of the promises of God, with scripture that says how good He is and what He as already done for you. Say these out loud in prayer to God. This will build and strengthen your faith. It will get you to see correctly and not focus on your problem. (Remember, Peter had faith to walk on the water until he began to focus on the waves!)
Thank you, Father, that all things work together for good to those who love You. (Romans 8:28) Thank you for always causing me to triumph in Christ Jesus! (2 Cor. 2:14)