Three times this week, Love Life volunteers asked me the same question: “How do we fully engage in the terrible suffering and battles of the sidewalk, and leave all the grief and casualties behind when our shift ends?” It is a very important question and one to which those of us who have been in the battle for years have had to find an answer.
No one can be an effective sidewalk counselor without a heavy dose of compassion and empathy. At the same time that the soul who loves God is horrified by the sin of abortion and the plight of the doomed baby, He must also be aware of the struggle and sorrow of the mom in vulnerable and difficult circumstances. And yet, so many innocents die. So much wickedness seems to prevail. The battle is impossible to describe to those who have not waged it. We fight so hard against the forces of evil, and often, it seems evil is victorious. The mother is wounded. Of course, the baby is wounded. But what we cannot ignore is SO ARE WE.
We will go home. We will need to laugh with our family. We will need to play with the dog. We will need to clean the bathroom and vacuum the living room as though we did not just see 30 babies die.
How? How can we do that?
In all three cases this week, the volunteers saw older parents bringing a very young lady to the abortion center to kill her baby. Likely their grandchild. As our volunteers watch the scenes unfold, they are struck by so many horrific messages. A parent is leading her child to death. The parent of the parent is leading her grandchild to death. There are countless unknowns. Is it incest? Is it sex trafficking? It is coerced? What can we do? We have no proof of any crime. But we all know a terrible crime is nonetheless being committed.
How do we see that and UNSEE it when we drive home?
First: Acknowledge the horror
We have to first recognize that what we face is unspeakable sin and horrific. God is grieved and we should be as well. That recognition is what compelled us to be on the sidewalk in the first place. The murder of innocent unborn children is an affront to a Holy God and to us. If we did not grieve over this abomination, we would not be devoted to the God who created all human life. We face evil, and it is awful.
Second: Recognize our role
We are not God. We are His servants, and He has called us to this work. He has not called us to save those babies. That is His job. He has called us to be obedient and show up, do our best to speak for those who cannot, and fight as hard as we can the forces of darkness with the light of Lord Jesus.
Third: Look for God
His miracles are always present. It may take a great focus and discernment to find them in such a dark place, but they are always there. A miracle might be that someone actually stopped to take our literature or paused for a moment as we shared truth. It might be a passerby who gave us a thumbs up and thanked us for being there. It might be a teammate that puts her arm around our shoulder. It might be a dad in tears who tells us we were the only voice that mom had heard other than his pleading for his baby’s life. If you seek to find the miracle, you will find it.
‘Then he said to them, “Go your way. Eat the fat and drink sweet wine and send portions to anyone who has nothing ready, for this day is holy to our Lord. And do not be grieved, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.’ ” Nehemiah 8:10
Fourth: Trust by faith not by sight
The Word of God never returns void. You may not see visible fruit to your obedience sharing the truth of God, but that does not mean it is not there. Those seeds you have planted will have an effect. You can trust that, because God tells us this is true.
I remember that there were so many strangers sharing the truth of God with me when I was an unbeliever. I laughed at them. I scoffed. I thought they were stupid. I even told that to their face sometimes, laughing as I exposed what losers they were!
And yet, years later, I remember them. I can see their faces. I remember their words. I know that they were a piece of the puzzle that all fell in place for me years later when I came to the Lord. I wish I could go back and thank each one for the role they played in my salvation.
Fifth: Keep an eternal perspective
God wins. We know the end of the story. We know the victory was secured when Jesus was crucified, died and rose again. Satan was rejoicing and then the enormity of his defeat became apparent. Jesus won. Good wins. Evil is defeated.
Justice will be served. All will be made right. Those babies will greet you when you have finished the fight and lay down your sword because your battle is over. God doesn’t keep a tally of confirmed saves. But if you show up, speak His truth and conduct yourself in a manner worthy of His name, then God is glorified – and you are victorious with Him.
Sixth: Find what brings you joy and recharge with God
Leave the sorrow on the sidewalk. Let God till the seeds you have planted. Find joy in your family or nature or an activity that helps you commune and abide in God. Sorrow will NOT be what brings you back to the sidewalk, day after day, year after year. It will be the JOY of the Lord which is our strength.