On the 46th anniversary of Roe V. Wade, legislators in New York passed a law protecting a woman’s right to have a late-term abortion. As they applauded inside the chamber, my heart filled with sorrow. Truth be told, my sorrow was primarily motivated by the thought that legislators only look to protect the abortion supply chain because the demand is so high.
Millions took to social media to offer their praise or protest. As I read numerous reactions, it hit me: If the church I pastor is a sampling of our culture where roughly one in four women have an abortion,1 what would I say to the women in my church (and beyond) who already feel the grief of having had an abortion? This is my attempt to answer that question.
First, I want you to know that you are loved.
Neither the regret in your heart nor the outspoken voice decrying abortion that you may simultaneously agree with and grieve over can separate you from God’s love (Romans 8:38-39). God created you. He loves you. We love you.
Second, I want you to know that guilt won’t go away by redefining what is true.
God has written His law so deep into our heart (Romans 2:15), that when we sin against God it cuts our heart. The Bible calls this guilt. Running from it won’t help because we can’t outrun what we carry. Redefining the rightness of our behavior won’t help because we can’t erase God’s law by writing a new one. Whatever God calls righteousness is right. Whatever God calls sin is wrong. Healing will only come when we agree with God over what we did.
Third, I want you to know that silence must be replaced with confession.
Our instinct when we feel shame is to be silent and hide, but the problem with silence is that our shame only grows darker in the shadows. God wants to heal us. So He tells us to bring our guilt into the light by confessing it to Him. The truth is clear—God is against the taking of an innocent life from the body of the person who was meant to care for and nurture that life (Genesis 9:6). Just as God made you, He also made the life you carried (Psalm 139:13-16). But the same God who created life is also full of mercy. God sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to redeem us from our sin. Jesus stepped into our brokenness and sin and took it all on Himself. Jesus died for our sin and three days later, He rose from the dead. Therefore, as we look to Jesus and ask Him to forgive us, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9).
Fourth, I want you to know that you will need to take your thoughts captive.
Even after we have confessed our sin and been forgiven by God, shame will still occasionally show up at our front door. When it does, you must take your thoughts captive (2 Corinthians 10:5). Our enemy is going to lie to you. He is going to leverage fear, pain, insecurity and anything else he can get his hands on into an argument that casts doubt on God’s forgiveness. When this happens, you need to strike hard and fast with the promises of God. Don’t allow the enemy’s arguments to drift around your mind like a partially-welcomed house guest. You must imprison these thoughts behind the truth that God has removed your sin as far as the east is from the west (Psalm 103:12).
Fifth, I want you to know that you will need to rehearse the gospel to your heart daily.
One particular day the prophet Micah was reminded of his own failures. Instead of wallowing in guilt, Micah said, “Rejoice not over me, O my enemy; when I fall, I shall rise; when I sit in darkness, the Lord will be a light to me. I will bear the indignation of the Lord because I have sinned against him, until he pleads my cause and executes judgment for me. He will bring me out to the light; I shall look upon his vindication” (Micah 7:8-9). Notice that Micah acknowledges that he is a sinner and that he is currently in a dark place. But also notice that Micah is hopeful that God will bring him into the light. What is the basis of his hope? God is going to “plead his cause and execute judgment for him.” This is what Jesus did for us. Jesus found us in a dark place. He did not accuse us. He pled our cause. He did not execute judgment on us. He executed judgment for us. So when life feels dark, rehearse the truths of the gospel to your heart.
Sixth, I want you to know that God will redeem your life.
When you run to God in faith, He not only delivers us from guilt, He also rebuilds our broken life. I imagine it is easy to think that somehow, because of your decision, you have missed God’s best for your life. When you feel this way, consider the promise God gave to us through His prophet Joel. After describing how sin had devoured everything like a plague of locusts, God says, “I will restore to you the years the locusts have eaten” (Joel 2:25). This means that God travels the righteous paths that we did not take and gathers up the blessings that we missed. Then, when we confess our sin, He restores those blessings to us, either in this life or the next!
Seventh, I want you to know that it helps to find a person of mercy.
God does not intend for you to process this struggle alone. If you have already confessed your sin to God, consider finding someone to talk to about your abortion who will remind you of God’s mercy. You do not need to tell everyone you know about your past. Find one person who will listen well, remind you of God’s promises of forgiveness, and pray with and for you.
Eighth, I want you to know that God intends to help you become a person of mercy.
One of the many ways God brings good out of our sin is by making us helpful and sympathetic to others who are struggling with what we experienced. Think about all the understanding, empathy, and wisdom you have to offer. Be on lookout out to comfort others with any comfort you have received from the Lord (2 Corinthians 1:3-7).
Finally, I want you to know that the Scriptures give evidence that your baby is in heaven.
It is natural for mothers and fathers who experience abortion to later grow concerned about the eternal destiny of their little one. Those who desire to see the Scriptural evidence to which I am referring can click here to read an article entitled, “A Kingdom Custom-Built For Kids.”
As a man who is familiar with sin, shame, and God’s forgiveness, I promise to pray for you. May the Lord heal you, redeem you, strengthen you, and make you an instrument of mercy!
1 Cha, Ariana. (2017, October 19). U.S. abortion rate fell 25 percent from 2008 to 2014; one in four women have had an abortion. Retrieved from http://www.washingtonpost.com.