THIS is the Gospel
Last Monday night I cried myself to sleep…waves of grief washed over me as I thought of the child that would never have the opportunity to experience the splendor of God’s earthly creation, grief for the mother who would never get to hold her little baby, sadness over sinfulness and selfishness, and sorrow for the weight of shame and guilt that this mother would now carry….
Monday night, the very day my mind had drifted into plans for a baby shower, I found out that my friend had gotten an abortion. My friend (we’ll call her Cleone) doesn’t believe in abortion. She swore she would never get one. She always used to tell me, I’ve been through so much and I’ve messed up so much, but at least I’ve never had an abortion.
Cleone has several beautiful children whom she has poured her whole life into. Her family here in Newark is like a diamond in the rough. She believes in LIFE, and she loves babies. But last April, she found herself pregnant against her will, grieving over the death of her grandmother who raised her, angry at her fiance who tries to control her, and upset at God for putting her through all this…so she went and did what she had always sworn she would never do. She killed her baby. We wrestled through the grief she experienced but rejoiced in the repentant heart she had as she told God she would never do it again. Then this April she found herself pregnant again just as far along as she had been when she had the abortion the year before. She took this as God’s second chance for her. Yet she still struggled with the possibility of getting another abortion. She knew God’s will, and what is right, yet certain medical conditions (she has a spine condition and arthritis in her back, but has never gotten surgery for it for fear of getting cut open) made following God’s will extremely difficult. With mourning sickness, on top of her spinal condition, on top of the multiple children she must raise, on top of the part time job she must hold, on top of the fact that she would not be allowed to take pain killer to help ease the intense pain, on top of the small two bedroom apartment her family was packed in, on top of the inconsistent relationship she had with the father of her kids, on top of the fact that if she carried this baby it would be her 5th C-section…. it was HARD to resist the temptation of abortion. We had long talks on the phone, I watched her kids so she could get a break, we read God’s promises, we prayed for His strength. We even went and got a sonogram done, and received counseling from a women’s resource center. We SAW her 10 week old unborn baby squirming, kicking and punching around in her stomach. Cleone, had never had a baby shower, and my plan was to give her her first. I fell in love with this baby, as I continually encouraged his or her mother to have the faith to carry it. Yet it was so hard for her to stay focused on God’s will, when there was a way out to all the pain. The abortion clinics are there, her friends all were encouraging to get an abortion, they had all had them and “didn’t feel guilty” (or so it seemed)
But last week, the pain in Cleone’s back and legs got so intense she was throwing up and started to feel numb. She went to the ER and the ER doctor immediately gave her strong painkiller, despite her pregnancy, and then told her she was basically trying to commit suicide by trying to carry the baby. She got home and the next day went to the clinic.
As I spoke with her about everything, she was crying and asking if God was going to punish her kids because she killed this child, she was asking “why?”, why didn’t God take away the pain, why didn’t He answer her prayers, why couldn’t He just fast forward to 9 months and already give her the baby. I didn’t have the answers, I was broken with grief, and all I could do is pray for her on the phone…and as I prayed I felt God’s Spirit descend on me as I, by faith, claimed the shed blood of Jesus over Cleone and her sin. The truth of the Glorious Gospel washed over us, and I realized and prayed that SHE would realize that Jesus already took the punishment that she fears for her children. GOD sent HIS OWN CHILD to take it. Because of that sacrifice she did not need to live in the fear, the guilt, the shame she was experiencing. THIS is the Gospel we preach, THIS is the love we proclaim. The “righteousness” that she had clung to by saying she would never have an abortion, was displaced and now she could fully cling to Christ’s righteousness, because now she was so broken that Jesus truly was her only hope. Blessed are the POOR in Spirit. This whole ordeal has made her realize the absolutely poverty she is in without a Savior to redeem her and intercede for her.
Several days after our prayer time, she called me to give me an update. She had been getting up and reading her Bible every day, she was repenting of ways she hadn’t loved her kids or her fiance, she was devouring books by Billy Graham and others and sharing with me what she was learning. She said it felt so weird to have such peace about things, and feel so happy despite what she had done. She felt like the storm was over. And it is, the storm of the fury of God’s just wrath, had been directed towards his own Son. She may now bask in the glorious sunshine and the peace that comes after the storm. THIS is the Gospel. God taking broken people, broken choices, broken situations, and pays the price to heal, redeem, and restore. PRAISE JESUS for he has been sent to
bind up the broken hearted,
to proclaim freedom to the captives
and release from darkness to the prisoners
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor
and the day of vengeance of our God,
to comfort those who mourn and provide for those who grieve in Zion-
to bestow on them
a crown of beauty
instead of ashes
the oil of gladness
instead of mourning
a garment of praise
instead of a spirit of despair…