Imagining a concrete picture can bring abstract truth to life. To help us understand what this month’s 40th anniversary of legalized abortion in the United States means, one Care Net website offers this picture:
[I]magine Camp Randall Stadium in Madison, Lambeau Field in Green Bay, and Miller Park in Milwaukee filled with fans. Now consider this: to host more than 55 million people, all three of these stadiums would need to fill to capacity 290 separate times!
We cannot undo this human tragedy, this dark undercurrent in a culture marked by an inflow of countless material things and an outflow of discarded life. To be specific—-more than 55 million discarded human lives since Roe v. Wade was decided in January 1973. Many, though, are helping invade the darkness with the light by pursuing these actions, which we can aim to pursue more faithfully every passing year, along with God’s people and by God’s grace.
For many, the reality of abortion breaks in only every now and then. For so many others, though, abortion is a personal, ongoing reality. As Albert Mohler reminds us in a thought-provoking article (responding to Time magazine’s January cover story), at current rates one out of every three American women will have an abortion by age 45. That means a huge percentage of the women with whom we attend church, shop for groceries, work, exercise, and raise children carry painful abortion stories inside them. Men carry them as well. Many of these stories are not yet resolved.
This issue should seem to us as real as a deep, bleeding cut on a friend’s hand: we’ll notice it. . . . it will affect the way we reach out our hands. . . . it will make us aim to help heal.
In the Bible, healing involves prayer. Abortion is hard to pray about, in a way. Often Christians pray that God would “heal our land,” claiming the beautiful promise in 2 Chronicles 7:14. That promise, of course, was originally directed to the nation of God’s people, and so we sometimes struggle to understand how it applies or does not apply to nations like the one Americans inhabit today. We can know for sure, though, that those words speak to God’s people. We can be certain that we are called to humble ourselves and pray and seek God’s face and turn from our wicked ways.
We can start by praying for the people around us in Christ’s body, the ones with whom we worship—-and the ones whom we would like to bring into the church. We can get to know the women God brings into our lives and share their ongoing stories. There’s nothing like ministering to real people to make us pray.
3. Offer Gospel Hope
As believers, we know the gospel is the “ground zero” of healing. Counseling in general can prop up a woman or a man, but counseling that tells the truth about who Jesus is and what he has done for us offers the only lasting hope. Counseling that offers the food of the Word of God feeds people with what they need to live—-and to choose life over death. Many Christian pro-life clinics these days offer not just pre- but also post-abortion Bible-based counseling, aiming not just to stop the taking of babies’ lives but also to offer eternal life in Christ to all who will hear. Women and men in life-and-death crises often have open ears to hear.
Even if we’re not involved directly in such formal counseling, we are all involved in daily conversations with needy people—-usually more needy than we ever realize. What if we were more ready to offer biblical words of hope and encouragement? What if we were a little less fearful? A few years ago, in a talk to college students, I addressed this topic of abortion with some trepidation. The dramatic response by both female and also male students took me by surprise. The Spirit and the Word do their work to open avenues of gospel healing and hope.
4. Add Concrete Action
As we realize the depths of this tragedy not only in our own nation but also globally, we can help in other ways, as God leads us. We can support passing restrictive laws, as many have been doing in the last few decades—-with such good results that Kate Pickert, author of the Time article, sounds an alarm and rues the fact that abortions are increasingly difficult to obtain. Requiring parental consent for minors, waiting periods, and basic communication about the baby’s development have slowed down and even stopped many an abortion process in recent years. We can find, support, or start pro-life clinics that help pregnant women choose and nurture life. We can support adoption and celebrate its dramatic growth among Christians. We can give financially to help those working to these ends.
Pictures help. The picture of those packed stadiums filled to capacity hundreds of time over is a powerful one to keep in mind. I wonder what all of this looks like to God. I wonder about his plans for all these little lives, in eternity. Perhaps amazing children’s choirs filling heaven. There’s a picture. In such an anniversary month as this, it is good to stop and ponder such pictures—-and to do what we can, by God’s grace.