I refuse to write off or dismiss 2020. There are too many blessings, God’s faithfulness has been clear, and we have seen miracles too incredible for me to ever be able to say this has been a bad year. In fact, we have more known lives saved so far in 2020 than the same period last year. But in the midst of great celebration and gratitude, there are so many things to grieve from this year; it is impossible to not see that hardships have colored our collective experience of the year, perhaps more than any other in my lifetime.
I lost count of the times I sat down to write this letter. I envisioned a letter focused on joy in the midst of the hard. I considered letters lamenting the real tragedies of the year and highlighting our continuing efforts to respond. But no approach felt right. And then it struck me. For Christ-followers in this broken world, lament and joy are as inextricably tied to each other as truth and grace. Perhaps no year has proven that more than 2020. Grief and gratitude are the best of friends.
This is true for our clients as well. We likely meet them on the worst day of their lives, but in the midst of that grows a child, and God’s word tells us a child is a blessing from the Lord (Psalm 127:3). He doesn’t add a caveat about the circumstances of conception, convenience of timing, financial stability of the home, or anything else. He also does not promise it will be easy but in fact quite the opposite. God is likely to use that day to give them one of the best gifts of their lives. His word is true. Time and again, when recounting their Assurance experience years later, clients weep with the memories of the moment they faced their unplanned pregnancy and then rejoice at what came of it. “He is the best thing that ever happened to me.” “I can’t imagine my life without my daughter.”
It is not just a child that can make the unexpected pregnancy a blessing. A child is growing, yes. But also, a Savior is pursuing. Many times clients recount not just that they are incredibly grateful they chose life for their child, but that God used the pregnancy to save their own lives. Maybe they came to faith in Jesus through that experience. Perhaps they committed to sobriety motivated by the health of their unborn child. Some altered the course of their lives to provide a more stable home for their child and in doing so found a marriage, career, or better path for themselves. “You saved my child’s life, and saving their life saved my life” is a refrain we hear often once clients have the benefit of hindsight. Just last week, a client came to us nine years after we served her and recounted that she “truly believes Assurance saved her life when she was pregnant with her son” and struggling with addiction.
Grief and gratitude are perhaps never seen more closely or more powerfully than in our ministry to post-abortive women and men. The intentional and painful process of grieving the life of their child and all that surrounded the decision to abort, while embracing at deep and personal levels the forgiveness, freedom, and healing of a gracious Savior, produces some of the most powerful testimonies and walks of faith I have ever witnessed. From their worst He brings forth His best. The Redeemer is always at work.
Even our finances reflect the dichotomies of this year. Assurance experienced the challenges, and ultimately the impact, on our Baby Bottle Blessings and Banquet during the pandemic. Both efforts, once adjusted for the times, still raised funds that we are incredibly grateful for, but neither reached the results we see in typical years. However, we were able to have our Love Walk before the pandemic, and we have received other surprise financial gifts throughout the year, often at the most opportune times.
For some of you, this year has been challenged by layoffs, slow-downs, and even business closures. Others have funds from canceled vacations, sporting events, concerts, and other things you would normally have spent on, in addition to mandatory retirement withdrawals and stimulus funds to work with. We all have the special charitable giving incentives available in this most unusual year. For 2020, there is a deduction available to all individual filers for $300 for qualified charitable donations, even if the filer is not itemizing. For those that do itemize, at the federal level there is 100% deductibility of charitable contributions.*
In addition to grief and gratitude, I believe this year will also be remembered for generosity. Generosity from you poured out towards our clients who are facing the scariest, most lonely, seemingly overwhelming event of their lives during a season of collective hardship, distance, and uncertainty. 2020 is ripe for the powerful impact of Christ’s love for us overflowing towards others.
Thanks to supporters like you, Assurance has remained a beacon of hope and help throughout the year. The darkness of this year allows the light of Christ to shine brighter. The grief of this year makes the hope in Christ stand out ever more. I pray those of you who are able will help us finish the year strong and invest in the life-saving and redeeming work God is doing through Assurance. I cannot think of a better way to celebrate the birth of Jesus.
May God bless and keep you this Christmas,
PS: I had to share this client’s note with you, the people who make this possible. “I can’t thank you enough for the support you provided the other day. Honestly, I needed that so badly. When you prayed with/for me it was worth more than you could imagine. Thank GOD for the people responsible for producing such an establishment. If I were granted 3 wishes, one would definitely be that, every single person in the USA who was at this crossroads, has easy access to such a place. You have restored my faith in humanity. Not even kidding.”
*This information is not intended as legal or tax advice. Talk to your attorney or tax advisor about how you can maximize the giving incentives.
Year End Appeal 2020