My dear sister in Christ:
I’ve been thinking a lot about you this week as the world—the Christian world in particular—explodes with outrage over the cavalier conversation of Planned Parenthood medical staffers regarding the crushing of baby bodies in the womb. I’m thinking about you because of the abortion you had before you truly took hold of Christ in a saving way, or perhaps even after. And I’m imagining every video that you see played on the news and posted on Facebook forces you to do battle, once again, with shame and regret.
I’m imagining there must be a day on the calendar that comes around every year to remind you of that day you walked into that clinic and then walked out, leaving a piece of yourself behind. It must be a day when you want to hide from the world and be sad, a day when the smells and sounds and sights come back to haunt you, a day when the enemy of your soul tempts you to believe the blood of Christ is insufficient to cover this sin. And I want you to know that I’m sad with you over the loss of all that the enemy stole from you on that day, the false promise of freedom he made to you that day, and for the accusations he has continued to hurl at you since that day, even though you have confessed and mourned over your sin. He wants to convince you that you have committed some separate class of sin when the truth is all of us have sinned in hell-worthy ways. He wants to keep you from fully accepting and operating in the forgiveness held out to you by Christ, the one who purchased it for you. He wants to keep dragging you back down into believing your record could never be wiped clean of this great wrong.
As I think of you, I also think of the apostle Paul, someone who knew what it feels like to have been complicit in crushing one who was innocent. Is this partly why he called himself the “chief of sinners”? What was it like for him to remember the day when he took care of the coats while a mob of men searched for the biggest stones they could find to hurl at Stephen, stones big enough to crush his skull? Did the crunch of Stephen’s bones breaking ring in Paul’s ears years later? Did the smell of death linger in his nostrils? Did the sight of Stephen’s bloodied and broken body return in vivid color to Paul’s mind? And did the recollection ever threaten to crush him under a load of shame?
Back in those days, when he was called Saul, though he was an expert in the law of God, his eyes had not yet been opened to see the radiance of the glory of God in the person of Christ. His ears had not been opened to hear Christ calling him to abandon his old way of life. His heart had not been made tender by the mercy of God shown to him in Christ. He describes himself and what happened this way: “Formerly I was a blasphemer, persecutor, and insolent opponent. But I received mercy because I had acted ignorantly in unbelief, and the grace of our Lord overflowed for me with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus” (1 Tim. 1:13–14).
And perhaps this describes you too. On that day when you went for the abortion, you acted ignorantly in unbelief. You didn’t believe, on that day, that his grace would be enough to enable you to carry that child. And so you acted in that unbelief. But now, having cried out for it, you have received mercy. The grace of Jesus has overflowed so that you are awash in it. This grace is producing faith where there was once unbelief and love where there was once a selfish determination to live life on your own terms. Like Paul’s life, yours has become a display case for God’s grace toward repentant sinners. And it’s a beautiful thing to behold.
So my sister, as you watch these videos and listen in on these conversations and process the outrage and arguments, and as the weight of shame and regret becomes so heavy that you feel like you’re the one being crushed, I’m praying you will strengthen your grip on the good news of the gospel. There was one who offered himself willingly to be crushed. He was pierced. His body was broken. Why? “He was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed” (Isa. 53:5). My sister, Jesus has taken the punishment you deserve on himself so you can live in peace. Because he was wounded in your place, you don’t have to go through life as a wounded woman. As you abide in Christ, you are being healed.
When your soul is in anguish over your sin, consider the anguish of another and God’s purpose in it. “It was the will of the Lord to crush him; he has put him to grief” (Isa. 53:5). God the Father determined that his own son would be crushed. Why? So you wouldn’t have to be. “Out of the anguish of his soul he shall see and be satisfied; by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant, make many to be accounted righteous, and he shall bear their iniquities” (Isa. 53:11). You, my repentant friend, are one of the “many.” He has taken on himself the debt you owed for sin and transferred to your account his own righteousness. And evidently, as he looks at what the crushing of his body and the anguish of his soul has accomplished in your life, and the lives of all who belong to him, he is satisfied.
Finally, my friend, as you continue to do battle with the accuser, who day and night seeks to heap condemnation on you for what you’ve done, I want to assure you that his day is coming. The day is coming when the one who lied to you and led you down that dark path will himself be crushed. “The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet” (Rom. 16:20). This will not be a careful crushing, but rather a complete and final crushing. This will be the crushing that will bring all the evil of this world to its appointed end.
On that day you’ll discover that what you are taking hold of by faith now is really true—there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. I’m praying you won’t have to wait until that day to experience the joy and freedom of this reality. I’m praying you will walk today as one who is fully forgiven. Because you are.