One in four women will have an abortion by the time they’re 45, according to research published by the American Journal of Public Health last year. That means that this weekend, when churches across the nation focus their attention on the Sanctity of Human Life Sunday, up to 25 percent of the ladies in attendance will have experienced abortion themselves.
Several of my own dear friends have had abortions. Their stories are all unique and all very painful. They include abuse, careless boyfriends, a lack of wisdom, a giving in to temptation, pressure from parents, pressure from the father, pressure from herself—each one an overwhelming sense of feeling like she had no other option. And each one now carrying heavy regret and deep sadness. For those attending church on Sanctity of Human Life Sunday, the day can be especially sorrowful.
Friends, hear this: Abortion is not an unforgivable sin.
Be Convinced of the Truth About Abortion
I have heard you express immeasurable sorrow and shame, but Jesus stands ready to forgive you. Do not believe the father of lies (John 8:44) when he whispers to your heart that you cannot be forgiven. Rather, know that “if we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). As quickly as you confess, you are cleansed.
The sin of your abortion was bought with the blood of Jesus. Rejoice in that reality and resist the temptation to look at his gift of grace and say, “No thank you, that doesn’t cover my sin.” Rather, pursue godly grief, which “produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death” (2 Corinthians 7:10). Your confession, repentance and forgiveness should lead to refreshment from the Lord (Acts 3:19).
Immerse yourself in the Word of God and know what is true. The enemy, the world and your own shame threaten to bind you and blind you. Rehearse these verses, seek out more from the Bible and ask God to convince you to your very core that you are in fact forgiven. (See Psalm 103, 2 Corinthians 5, Ephesians 1, and Colossians 1 to arm yourself with more truth.)
Be Reminded of the Truth Over and Over and Over
While the word of God will be your most effective weapon against the lie that you cannot be forgiven, the people of God will be especially important too. As the old hymn says, we are prone to wander. We need our Christian sisters to remind us of what’s true when we forget. Paul told the Galatians to “bear one another’s burdens” (Galatians 6:2), because he knew they were too heavy for us to carry alone. He told the Thessalonians to “encourage the fainthearted, help the weak” (1 Thessalonians 5:14).
We were created for community and we need one another to help us remember what is true. Your sisters in Christ will be a strong refuge for you, as you seek to quiet the world’s megaphones. We belong to one another, “so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another” (Romans 12:5).
Beyond leaning on your sisters in the Lord, I encourage you to seek counseling at a pregnancy care center near you. The Care Net directory is a good starting point. Many pregnancy centers offer after-abortion counseling by trained therapists to women who experienced abortion recently or in the distant past. Your pastor may have some ideas too. Don’t underestimate the power and value of the help offered by a professional or a support group of women just like you.
Be an Advocate for Others
You know from personal experience how loud and convincing are the voices that say, “You have no other options than to abort your baby.” You can now be a uniquely powerful voice to women contemplating abortion, convincing them that they do in fact have alternatives. Get trained at a local pregnancy center and become an advocate for clients who walk through their doors. Write down your story and share it in a blog or other media. Be a voice in your church and consider starting an Embrace Grace group. Be an ally to the young women in your church body and community who become unexpectedly pregnant. Gather your girlfriends and seek out ways to serve women in your area who are vulnerable to abortion because of a lack of resources.
Your story is powerful. As you seek forgiveness, refreshment and healing, you can stand with Joseph and say, “As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today” (Genesis 50:20). Friend, you are indeed forgiven. In him, your sins have been removed from you as far as the east is from the west (Psalm 103:12). Walk in your freedom and come alongside other women, that they may choose life and live (Deuteronomy 30:19).
This article originally appeared here.