Today. Today marks the 40 years that have passed since abortion was legalized in America with the now infamous Roe v. Wade (1973) Supreme Court decision. It seems odd that we remember an anniversary of a holocaust that is still going on. But we do. It’s numbing to think that 55 million young children have been murdered in our time, not by bombs or acts of terrorism, but by their own mothers, backed by a full arsenal of lies and false promises made by so many for the sake of “women’s reproductive freedoms.”
The price of this “freedom” has been the blood of 55 million little babies, all of whom have angels standing before the Creator and Judge of this world (Matt 18:10) but whose cries the world does not hear. The reality that so many mothers—with the help of so many doctors, friends, parents, boyfriends and authority figures—chose to murder their own infants is psychologically and morally asphyxiating. The fact that we as a society have condoned, funded, promoted and endorsed this practice—yes, even praised it as the gateway to feminine liberty—is the blackest shame of our generation.
But that’s not the whole story. In the midst of men like Pharaoh and Herod, there are brave Joseph’s and Mary’s, Hebrew midwives and miracle births. There is Moses and Jesus, who were both born in days when infanticide spread like wildfire. There is the mercy of God in Providence, God intervening in history to protect, nurture and cultivate the life the world seeks to destroy. God’s people, it seems, are themselves like aborted babies that have been rescued from abandonment and death by an adoptive Father (Ezekiel 16:4-7). In the midst of horror there is God, with mercy and life.
Yesterday. As it so happened, I talked with my friend Davin‘s mom yesterday. I hadn’t planned for our conversation to take place that day; God just kind of ordered it that way. The topic of conversation was Davin’s birth, which is a sobering thing to consider for the friend who died of cancer almost nine months ago now. It’s been nine backward months, not from conception to birth, but from death to the story of an old birth. Before he died he came to life, and in Davin’s case it was an extraordinary occurrence.
On January 18, 1978, with the frost biting and the wintry Idaho landscape frozen by the cold, Janet Henrickson made the short drive from Nampa to Boise where she was taking painting lessons. Driving carefully along icy back roads, she spotted a car blowing through a stop sign, right into the intersection. She put the small truck into a skid. Tried to stop the vehicle. It was too late.
The other driver had been drinking and somehow didn’t see the stop sign. He plowed into her driver side door, slamming the small pickup into a tree. Unconscious, it took paramedics an hour to get Janet out of the wreckage. A shattered pelvis, broken neck, ruptured spleen, punctured lungs. She was rushed to the hospital, where she would go from emergency surgery to ICU to recovery. Two long months of recovery, immobile in a bed, her body like one giant cast.
There were multiple surgeries, x-rays and a lot of morphine. Several weeks into her hospital stay, there was unexplained nausea and vomiting. Doctors and nurses thought maybe she was having a reaction to all the medicine. Then finally a pregnancy test was administered. Positive.
Here was a mother who was broken, physically and literally devastated. Her abdomen and pelvis had been utterly crushed, and yet somehow a small life remained within. And I asked her what her thoughts were in that moment. In that moment when the nurse came back with the results, was she scared? Was she upset? Did she feel inconvenienced?
“I was afraid for my child. I was concerned that with all the x-rays and morphine and my broken condition that he’d been harmed,” she told me. “I was nervous. It wasn’t until he was born, everything was okay, he was fine, that I finally felt relief. I could go on with my life because he was okay.”
There’s a lot of talk these days about the health of a mother in time of pregnancy. Some even refer to the child as an unwelcome intruder. But what brought me to tears when I talked with Davin’s mom was how her main concern was for him. She’s shattered, and the pain she feels for his safety and well being is so much more intense. It’s the love of a mother, that even as she lay broken in a hospital bed, her primary care was for Davin, for her son.
He’s gone from this earth now—33 years after his grand entrance into her life—but she still talks about him like that. She never turns me down when I want to talk about her Miracle Baby. She always reminds me that God brought him into this world for a reason. Sometimes, she says, God takes one of his own home so that we won’t forget where we’re going, won’t forget how sweet the presence of Jesus is going to be.
Today. Today, as we ponder the value of infant life and the horror of a nation that attacks it, I’m reminded by Davin just how precious and fragile life really is. And in the midst of our self-inflicted horror, God is still protecting the littlest lambs, he’s standing by the grieving mothers, and he’s comforting the aching widows. He’s used Davin’s life—a birth and a death of tremendous weight—to teach me lessons about life and death and redemption that are too grand and painful even for words.
We can’t fathom the value of one life; the way it will impact others, God’s purpose for it, or the glory of his image even in the unborn. Davin himself has a daughter, Leah Katherine, who died in the womb but who also gave him hope as he was dying to carry on until they should be reunited. God sent Leah ahead to prepare the way for her father, and it was she that beckoned him home. One life. Short and unknown to the world, but everlastingly powerful in the hands of God.
Out of the mouth of babes and infants, you have established strength because of your foes, to still the enemy and the avenger (Psalm 8:2).