Finding Strength in The God of Peace
THE WHAT-IF BATTLE
I stood in the back of the conference hall, worship music thrumming around me. Yet a different beat was pulsing in my heart. The staccato rhythm of fear.
Help, Lord! I groaned inwardly. I know I can trust you to write this story. I know you’ll walk with us through it all. So why am I still anxious?
A few feet in front of me, my son’s teacher swayed to the music. I didn’t want to interrupt her, but she’d been down this road before me, and I knew at that moment she was the one I needed to pray with.
“Maryann,” I said, my voice trembling, “will you please pray for me? I know we’re supposed to adopt, but I’m honestly so scared. What if I’m not enough? What if it’s so hard that it tears my family apart? What if I don’t have the support I need? What if …” All the struggle and heartbreak of the past few years of parenting young ones while attempting to do life on the mission field overwhelmed me and I couldn’t finish.
“Oh sweetie,” she crooned as she held me tight, “you are absolutely enough for this. Jesus will fill in the gaps.” She pulled back and looked into my eyes. “Yes, it’s hard… but it’s beautiful, too.” She began to pray a simple, honest prayer from the heart of a mom who had lost a son, adopted several children, and parented them in a foreign country. She understood what I was about to go through better than perhaps anyone else in the room, yet she also understood the depth of God’s grace that would meet me there.
I left the conference clinging to one word: shalom. Peace, in Hebrew.
I felt this was God’s promise to me over our upcoming adoption, and I would hold on to it and pray it every day until we brought our child home.
THE CALL TO ADOPT
Here I am, four years later, still whispering shalom. Still waiting for the completion of our adoption. Still wondering how this story will end.
But last week, when we met our adopted son for the first time, the page turned, and I could see a glimpse of the incredible way God has been weaving our lives together.
My husband and I have felt the burden of God’s heart for adoption since before we were married. Eventually, we had two lovely biological kids from easy pregnancies, but the moment I held my firstborn in my arms and was overwhelmed with love for him, I thought of all the children who didn’t have someone to cherish and comfort them.
And I knew: we were called to adopt.
We moved to Thailand with a three-year-old and a six-month-old, which was, perhaps, pure insanity. Those first years were lonely and hard, but the desire to adopt never left. In fact, it intensified as we learned of the prevalence of child trafficking here. So, in 2016, we met with a social worker and began the adoption process. (We later found out that our adopted son was born just one month prior to that first meeting!)
We filled out paperwork, attended a training for adoptive parents, prayed, and waited. And waited. And waited.
FINDING STRENGTH IN HIS SHALOM
Finally, in July 2021 we were matched with a little boy who lives just three hours away from us. We were elated … and a bit scared, but I kept praying shalom. Six months later, we received his complete file and discovered that he has been cared for in a Christian foster home. Not only that, but one of the ladies we met at the training for adoptive parents is friends with the women who run that home. She has been able to reassure me of his quality care in a family-type setting.
Oh, the shalom to this mama’s heart.
Last week, when we met our son for the first time, I can honestly say that the room was blanketed in the peace of Christ. And when his caretaker looked at me and said that they’ve been praying for a loving, Christian family for this boy, I was absolutely in awe of how God has been orchestrating all these details in answer to so many prayers.
I’m no longer afraid. Even though hard days will surely come, I know I can lean into God’s shalom and find His strength.
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
Corella Roberts makes her home in Northern Thailand where she and her husband partner with an international school to “Serve the Servants.” Their first missionary teaching assignment landed them in the remote bush of Alaska, which you can read about in her book, Colliding with the Call: When Following God Takes You to the Wilderness. From tundra to tropics, her life of following Jesus has been nothing less than story-worthy, and she loves using her experiences to encourage others to connect deeply with God at corellaroberts.com.
To hear my conversation on the podcast with Corella, click on Depth Podcast Episode 42