I remember talking with one of Assurance’s staff members several years ago. She told me that going home and compartmentalizing abortion vulnerable or minded clients from her home life—where she wanted to be fully present for her own family—was one of the hardest things in the world. “With some clients you just don’t know what effect you have had on them,” she said. “You always wonder what you could have done or said better. You always wonder if she will keep the baby and sometimes you just will never know. It’s hard not to know. It’s easy to worry.”
I think all of us at Assurance would do just about anything at times to have a crystal ball that would tell us what our clients will choose. When clients come in, we know we may only have one chance to talk with them, one opportunity to speak into their lives. We know that we may be the only one who walks with them through the experience of an unplanned pregnancy, to honestly look at options, or to point them in the direction of further help. The door that they first walk through will eventually close and we can find ourselves worrying—sometimes late into the night—about the decision our client will make, worrying that we didn’t say or do the right thing, worrying that we could have done something different.
I’ve been reading and meditating on Matthew 6 and a few other scriptures a lot this year as I have reflected on my own proclivity to worry. While worry is certainly a symptom of our culture, helping and ministry callings (a call we all share in some measure) are prime cultivators of worry. It is hard not to leave the mind wondering and the heart worrying about the troubling situations, stories, and experiences others have. It is the natural consequence of love and empathy.
Genesis 3 contrasts a bit with Matthew 6 in this regard. The kind of knowledge the serpent approaches Adam and Eve with is a knowledge which is rooted in a false promise to make them “like God.” It is not simply the temptation to know good and evil but to be able to take the destiny of the world into our own hands. It is a temptation to put ourselves in control, to cease our reliance and faith the source of our hope, however known or unknown the facts are to us in each moment.
By contrast, Jesus calls us to resist the temptation and desire to know as God knows. Jesus’ own resistance to worry was not rooted in knowing how each day and each decision was going to turn out. It was rooted in the faith and hope that God the Father knew every concern, every crisis, and every decision of our day to day and that somehow this all works together for our final hope (Rom 8.28). Worrying, even if it is humanly understandable, is not a part of the Kingdom of God. As Jesus rhetorically asked us, “Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?” (Mt 6.27).
Many of our clients do not give us the satisfaction of knowing ahead of time what they will choose between abortion, adoption, or parenting. But knowing is not a pre-requisite to this work. We must go into the questionable fray with folks, irrespective of what knowledge is given to us and be prepared to say “only God knows” what our work will amount to.
And I think our staff is good at that! We still have the gut human desire to know the outcomes, but we are all committed in principle to the fact that the work we do must be done in faith. We can lay our worries down at his feet; we can lay every concern we have for a client and their unborn child at his throne, for He knows what we cannot.
Still, as Brennan Manning said, “all is grace,” and that includes the grace of any knowledge that we get to possess: the stories of a mother who chose to give birth, of a couple choosing to raise a child together, of an individual healing from an abortion, of healing in the face of fear, and even someone coming to know Jesus for the first time.
To date, we at Assurance have been able to document around 5,100 lives saved since 1985!
And those are the ones we know about!
Only God knows the full number!
As we look to 2024, I am asking our staff to keep this in mind: we are only asked to respond to today, irrespective of the future, irrespective of the outcome, irrespective of whether we said or did “the exact right thing at the exact right time.” How God chooses to bless what we sow is up to Him. Our only job is to put our talents to work (Mt 24 14-30). God will use them.
And I am asking you, as we look to 2024, to respond to today as well, irrespective of the future, irrespective of the outcome. How God chooses to bless what we sow is up to Him. God’s knowledge supersedes any amount of worry we can give to a situation. Our only job is to put our talents to work. God will use them.
Thank you for partnering with us. Thank you for your generosity, your prayers, and your words of encouragement. They help us do this important work every day, year after year. We could not do this without you. Merry Christmas from Assurance for Life! With love and gratitude,
Executive Director, Assurance for Life