Paralysing Fear, Persevering Faith

Ruth Davidar Paul   |   November 4, 2020 

In early January 2018, my husband and I began to feel the stirrings to adopt a baby. We’d talked about adoption even before we got married and we’d always planned on doing it eventually. Our daughter was then four years old and it made sense to adopt a second child. But I didn’t want to adopt just because it was a “good” thing to do. I needed to be absolutely sure that this was God’s will for us – that this was a “God” thing to do, for us as family.

As I prayed and sought God, I heard Him in one of those crystal clear moments. It was the passage from Numbers 13, where Moses sent the spies to explore the land of Canaan and they returned with a comprehensive report. They were asked to gather specifics – which they did. In truth, they went a step further and brought along some fruity proof as well! Speaks a lot for their initiative. Listen to their report – “…the land…truly flows with milk and honey…the people are strong; the cities are fortified and very large…the Amalekites dwell in the…South; the Hittites, the Jebusites and the Amorites dwell in the mountains; and the Canaanites dwell by the sea and along the banks of the Jordan.” (v. 27 – 29)

Top marks on the spying job wouldn’t you say? They had their facts straight and were logical, reasonable, and rational. Yet, it was that same cold, hard reason that made them realise it would be impossible for them to win this war. “We are not able to go up against the people, for they are stronger than we.” (v. 31) The final verse spells out the Israelites’ thoughts – “…we were like grasshoppers in our own sight, and so we were in their sight.” (v. 33)

Yet Caleb and Joshua had a different perspective -

But Joshua the son of Nun and Caleb the son of Jephunneh, who were among those who had spied out the land ... spoke to all the congregation of the children of Israel, saying: “The land we passed through to spy out is an exceedingly good land. If the Lord delights in us, then He will bring us into this land ... Only do not rebel against the Lord, nor fear the people of the land, for ... their protection has departed from them, and the Lord is with us. Do not fear them.(Num 14: 6 – 9; emphasis mine)

The Israelites, very properly, realised their weakness. Unfortunately, they forgot about God’s strength. As I prayed for clarity and guidance for my own situation, I could hear God say yes adoption seems huge and you might feel inadequate, but do not be afraid. This is My will for you, so go ahead. I will be with you.

You cannot get any clearer than that! So we followed the protocol laid out by CARA (Central Adoption Resource Authority), filed the documents, completed our Home Study Report, and got onto the all India waiting list. This was more than two and a half years back. Life went on and funnily enough, our son was born in between. God does have a sense of humour! All our well-laid plans went for a toss with the arrival of the noisiest infant ever!

But somehow we never heard from God about withdrawing our registration so we stayed on the CARA list. And then this year, given the pandemic, suddenly our number began to move forward in leaps and bounds until one morning we got the message that our baby was waiting for us!

But I’m getting ahead of myself.

A few months before we were notified, I was reading the book Fervent by Priscilla Shirer and the chapter on fear really caught my attention. I had been dithering on the brink of withdrawing our registration. I felt it was just too much for me to handle. I was scared of the future. I felt inadequate as a mother and felt that three children would be too many for me to love and nurture. I didn’t feel ready. I didn’t feel prepared. It seemed like I was adding more to an already overfull plate and seemed like a foolish decision to make.

My fears were staring me in the face, filling me with doubt. Which was when I read the book and the first paragraph of the chapter said this:

If I were your enemy, I’d magnify your fears, making them appear insurmountable, intimidating you with enough worries until avoiding them becomes your driving motivation. I would use anxiety to cripple you, to paralyse you, leaving you indecisive, clinging to safety and sameness, always on the defensive because of what might happen. When you hear the word faith, all I’d want you to hear is “unnecessary risk.”

It was like being hit by a thunderbolt. The truth of those words shook my tottering faith. It was true – all I could think of was the unnecessary risk involved in adoption. And fear was paralysing me. Keeping me stuck. Unable to move forward mentally and spiritually. Even as I examined my fears, I realised that they weren’t “legitimate concerns” nor were they “the protective warnings of wisdom and godly counsel”. It was just soul-crushing, blood-curdling anxiety and worry.

My mind was only filled with worst-case scenarios and horrifying true stories. I was scared to go through with what I had committed to do before my second child was born. Cold, hard reason was making me ask if it even made sense to keep that commitment given the different circumstances. Surely God didn’t expect me to mother three children? Did He? Fear was filling me with despair because I was unable to understand God’s ways and His will. Nothing seemed clear anymore and I just wished I could hide somewhere and not have to face this decision.

I don’t care how afraid or not ready you may feel. Obey God anyway!

Another thunderbolt! It all ultimately boiled down to obedience. Was I willing to obey? To get out of my comfort zone—my boat—and walk on water?

And then I read this final portion of the chapter which was another crystal clear moment of God speaking into my life and situation:

If God has given you clear direction, like He gave the children of Israel ...—direction that’s confirmed by His written Word and by the sounding board of wise, godly counsel—and your only real reason for resisting Him is because you’re afraid of what following Him down this path might mean or cost or entail, then you’re not only on the threshold of being disobedient, you’re about to miss an opportunity to give God some fresh, new glory by doing what He’s wanting to do through you, which is the true impetus behind His invitation for you to join Him on this scary adventure in the first place.

In fervent prayer, we discover something: Our God is fearless. And because He is fearless, we can be fearless too. When His presence is with us and going before us, no Red Sea should faze us or give us pause. 

So despite your hesitation, say yes.

Walk on. Have faith. Fear not.

By this time I was bawling my eyes out, enveloped by a sense of God’s absolute love for me and a sense of purpose and joy in knowing that He understood my fears but wasn’t angry with me for it. Rather He was gently leading me out of the quagmire of my fear-ridden thoughts and onto the solid ground of His will and guidance, stiffening my faith in the process.

Fast forward to the day we were notified about our baby, the decision was almost easy. The biggest thing I remember from the moment I heard that we had been matched with a little baby girl, was the absolute peace I felt. It was a sense of calm and a deep joy. A sense of rightness. A sense that God’s got this. I didn't have the answers, it didn't make rational sense, it probably wasn't the smartest move to make, but it was right. And that gave me peace.

So, a month ago, after filling paperwork and completing all procedures, we finally brought our baby girl home. Amy, which means “beloved” is our heart baby. And just like that we are now a family of five!

I needed to share this story because it is a story of God working out a wonderful plan that does not follow any script I ever wrote for my life! Because it is a testament to His love and care for us mere mortals despite our fear and faithlessness. Because it reminds me that partnering with Him means having to let go of all control and stepping out into the unknown, and as scary as that may seem, only in the unknown is His presence, strength, peace, and grace all the more tangible. It is a glimpse into what being adopted into His family—being called His son or daughter—and being a co-heir with Jesus is all about.


Photo by Mayuresh Kharwade on Unsplash

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Ruth Davidar Paul is a freelance editor, writer, and recently, an artist. She has lived in several cities across India and currently calls Chennai home, where she lives with her husband Abhishek and their children Abigail, Jordan, and Amy. She blogs at and paints @quaintstains on Instagram.

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3 comments on “Paralysing Fear, Persevering Faith”

  1. Amazing to see the way God leads, HIS love and the way HE understands us. HE does have a great sense of humour! Thank you so much for sharing this.

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