Abortion, Life, and Care

With all the protests vs. Planned Parenthood, I wonder whether the President, Congress, and judges are paying attention. Thanks to Mollie Ziegler Hemingway for keeping us apprised of protests around the country.

Also, how many more babies have been killed since the protests began today? My heart aches for this national tragedy, and even more so for the women who have had abortions. Ministering to them takes love, compassion, patience, and time. Let’s be a part of that movement as well.

Yes, I have been ministering to women for 28 years. The key is not letting themselves or others define who they are by having had an abortion. They are sinners, just like me. They deal with grief, shame, guilt, etc. They are no different than many of us who sit silently and shake our heads about how bad it is, and then we go back to the latest Twitter or FB or Instagram attention-getting topic. Rather, God defines them by sins-forgiven, made-pure-in-Christ. Let that be our foremost message.

Life is under attack at the other end of life, too. Euthanasia (“good death”?) is a convenience for someone else, but does not value the life of the person being put to death. We can cover it with all kinds of sentimental thoughts “She would have wanted this to end”; “Now he is no longer in pain.” Yes, there are times that happens. But realistically, look at what happens in the Netherlands, and it is far past assisted suicide. And notice how this creeps into mainstream US media to justify taking life: Dying Dutch: Euthanasia Spreads Across Europe.

But this isn’t about just pointing fingers at others. We confess our sins because we realize we have failed in so many ways: our thoughts, our words, our deeds, our silence…

Some thoughts from Scripture:

Psalm 139:13-16 (GW)

You alone created my inner being. You knitted me together inside my mother. I will give thanks to you because I have been so amazingly and miraculously made. Your works are miraculous, and my soul is fully aware of this. My bones were not hidden from you when I was being made in secret, when I was being skillfully woven in an underground workshop. Your eyes saw me when I was only a fetus. Every day ˻of my life˼ was recorded in your book before one of them had taken place.

Mark 2:17 (NAS)

And hearing this, Jesus *said to them, “It is not those who are healthy who need a physician, but those who are sick; I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”

1 John 1:8-9 (NAS)

If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

Romans 8:1 (NAS)

Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.

2 Corinthians 5:21 (NAS)

He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.

So, now what?

To those who are struggling with issues of life, death, value of a person’s life, give some time reflecting on something more than media headlines. Maybe even help another family who is living through this. Care for them, and realize that suffering is part of life and cannot be ignored or dispensed with a needle or ended with a putting someone to death.

This has been a heavy post to write about. It reflects some of my concerns expressed among family and friends for 40 years, many years of ministering to suffering people. The thoughts here are a little disjointed from the agony of my heart.

Even as my heart aches with all that is happening, I think God’s heart is breaking, too. He not only desires life for us now, but also life eternal. That is, life here is temporary, and filled with joy, sadness, hope, joy, and suffering and death. But it is not the final answer. We wait for life in its fullness.

Romans 8:23, 26-27 (GW)

However, not only creation groans. We, who have the Spirit as the first of God’s gifts, also groan inwardly. We groan as we eagerly wait for our adoption, the freeing of our bodies ˻from sin˼.

At the same time the Spirit also helps us in our weakness, because we don’t know how to pray for what we need. But the Spirit intercedes along with our groans that cannot be expressed in words. The one who searches our hearts knows what the Spirit has in mind. The Spirit intercedes for God’s people the way God wants him to.

And so we pray

 

Hope for all who call on the name of Jesus

Our hope is in the God who creates life, who sustains life, and who desires us to have life with him forever.

 

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Another touching post

In light of my most recent post, I was taken in by another post.  A photographer and her Korean father. You can read about it here.

http://www.mymodernmet.com/profiles/blogs/diana-kim-the-homeless-paradise

My heart goes out to them and rejoice on the turn of events. Thanks,  Jenny Zhang.

 

 

How long, O Lord?

The Psalmist wrote: “How long, O LORD? Will You hide Yourself forever?” (Psalm 89:46).

For many Christians that refrain becomes not just a lament of the moment, but a searing reminder, day after day, year after year. “How long, O LORD?” A sense of abandonment by God. Perhaps you are thinking such a thought is unacceptable for a Christian to utter. For one who has been through the agony, the thought is a frequent companion, and the words express the painful, long, unending wait.

The person calling out to God does so in a loud wail and in a soft whimper. The intensity is not shaped by the volume but by the breaking heart.

Sometimes the plea is met with a bargain, “God if You… then I…” Other times with a complaint, “What have I done to go through this?” And even with a condemnation, “Yes, Lord, I have sinned and this is my punishment.” But even that does not remove the plea.

It can be hard for others to minister to a person who has the ache of “How long, O LORD?” The drain can be overwhelming just listening to it, let alone living it. It is little wonder that many feel the loneliness even among Christians. I treasure each person who walked with us at various stages of our own 37 years of uttering the cry within our hearts.

Having lived that cry of “How long, O LORD?” for 37 years, I have a few observations to make about myself and others. See Too important and The ugliness of the missing. At times the intensity of my cry was such that a full day was too much to handle. If I could make it to mid morning… if I could make it to lunchtime… if I could make it to bed time… if I could only get to sleep, one night.

Tears, anger, frustration, pity, edginess, sadness, helplessness, yes, they were part of my diet for 37 years. Sometimes the periods of relief (no calls from the police, etc.) were so welcomed that I would feel guilty for the break.

Time was measured, waiting for an answer to “How long, O LORD?” For years it seemed as if time stood still. Looking at the clock seemed the obvious solution, as if the time would pass more quickly. But for what benefit? My own discomfort, angst, relief? Yet, measuring time only amplified the sense of “How long.” Yet 37 years gives me a perspective of Paul’s desire for the unbelieving Israelites in Romans 9:

I am telling the truth in Christ, I am not lying, my conscience testifies with me in the Holy Spirit, that I have great sorrow and unceasing grief in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were accursed, separated from Christ for the sake of my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh. (Romans 9:1-3)

That, too, was on my heart.

Not “How long?” But “How Amazing!”

A little over a week ago our son sent a letter to us, confessing his faith in Jesus Christ. He wrote about this being the first time he had peace in his heart. Bible reading has become a staple for his daily spiritual life. Not only has he received forgiveness from God, but he is learning to forgive himself—as Paul wrote: “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus…” (Romans 8:1). Knowing what he had been through physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually, this is monumental!

In the letter he also thanked us for always loving him, even when he was the worst. He had often said over the years that he could not figure out how we could still love him after all he had done and said. I told each time that it was because of God’s love in Jesus that we could love him. (We love, because He first loved us. 1 John 4:19). Now he is believing and receiving it.

Paul also wrote,

for He says, “at the acceptable time I listened to you, and on the day of salvation I helped you.”
Behold, now is “the acceptable time,” behold, now is “the day of salvation” — (2 Cor. 6:2)

So what has changed? We obviously are rejoicing. But as I do so, I am quietly reflective on all this. Was the 37 years of pain, uncertainty, fear, heartache worth it? Absolutely! Was it a living hell? Many times it was, but I would not trade one minute of the 37 years for the joy now of our son confessing Jesus Christ as Lord. In other words, I no longer think in terms of “how long?” But rather, how each moment was part of God’s working in his heart, even unknown to us. Indeed, how amazing!

Our son is learning this truth every day:

For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will hardly die for a righteous man; though perhaps for the good man someone would dare even to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life. And not only this, but we also exult in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation. (Romans 5:6-11)

“How long, O LORD?” is now answered with: “Forever!” Because of our common confession in Jesus Christ, we have an eternity to share with our son. I won’t even have to count minutes, hours, days, weeks, years, or decades, as I had been. Now is the time, today is the day of salvation.

And we give thanks to God for His patience, love, mercy, and amazing grace—to all of us! The plea changes to praise in song!

Amazing Grace