Miracles Never End
Despair vs. Hope, Part 3
The Resurrection! It is the miracle par excellence. It is filled with more meaning than we can ever fully contemplate. It is not just the miracle of Jesus coming back to life. Others have been raised from the dead: the widow’s son, who was raised by the prayers of Elijah; Lazarus and the daughter of the synagogue leader, who were raised by Jesus; and Tabitha, who was raised by the prayers of Peter. But the meaning of their resurrections was confined to a display of God’s power and love. The resurrection of Christ was a display of God’s forgiveness.
Unlike the other biblical characters who died from disease and were raised back to life, Jesus died after being tortured and executed. In the person of Jesus, God handed Himself over to be killed by sinners who represent all the sinners of history, including us. He died because of our sins. We are responsible for His death.
Imagine the guilt you would feel if you ran down an innocent pedestrian with your car. Perhaps you were selfishly speeding. Perhaps you were unthinkingly drunk. Perhaps you had been in a fit of rage and simply did it out of a crazed fury. But as soon as you did it, the guilt began to fill you with regret, fear and panic.
What are you to do? You are guilty! You deserve to be punished–but you’re afraid of being punished. So you run away. You hide the truth from others and yourself. But no matter how far you run, or how you try to push it out of your mind, you will never be able to forget that terrible sound and that bump of the car as you drove over your victim. That, my dear friends, that is guilt.
But now imagine that one day a person comes to your door. It is the same person you killed, but now he is alive. He was truly dead, but through a miracle of God, now he is alive! And not just alive, but alive with a heavenly splendor which is so beautiful and majestic it is almost terrifying. Why, you wonder, has he come to you, his killer? Has he come for vengeance? For retribution? You know you deserve whatever penalty he might demand of you. But no.
Your victim has not come to condemn you, but instead to offer you forgiveness. His only desire is to free you of the guilt which has haunted you for all these years. All you have to do is to believe and accept this truth, and your guilt is gone. You will be saved not by your virtue, but by your victim’s immortality. He is not dead. He is alive, and your guilt is gone because he lives.
In just the same way we have all been forgiven of murder. Because by our sins, of whatever type, each of us is guilty of crucifying Christ. Because of our sins, He was killed. His blood is on our hands. Yet on Easter Sunday, He rose from the dead. He is not dead at all! The guilt has been lifted.
In the Resurrection, God shows not only his mercy, but also His unbounded ability to turn tragedy into triumph. From any defeat, He can draw out a victory. From any sin which brings death to the soul, He can bring forth sorrow, renewal, and a rebirth into a glorious life which was unthinkable before.
In the Resurrection we learn that the experience of sin need not conquer us; instead, Christ can use it to bring us back to Him with greater love than we would have ever known before. In acknowledging our sin, we find humility. And in humility, we find Mercy–for Jesus is Mercy incarnate. And in accepting Mercy, we experience the unconditional love of God which will transform our lives forever.
But the miracle of the Resurrection is not limited to our relationship with God. This miracle also extends to our relationship with each other. In the Resurrection, we learn that death is an experience, not the end our being. For “God is not the God of the dead but of the living. All are alive for Him.” (Luke 20:38.)
C.S. Lewis explains it well when he writes, “There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. Nations, cultures, arts, civilization–these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub and exploit–immortal horrors or everlasting splendors.” Damned or glorified all people live on. (Matt. 25:46.)
And what of the innocent children who are killed by abortion? They, too, are alive in Christ! Jesus himself assures us that it is in our heavenly Father’s plan that a not a single one of these little ones shall ever be lost. (Luke 18:14.) They are immortal souls. And because they live in Christ, they live with hearts of mercy. They sit in Christ’s lap, praying for an end to abortion, for the forgiveness of their parents and those who have assisted in or provided abortions. They pray not for vengeance, but for forgiveness, so that their parents will be washed clean of guilt and united with them, their children, in Christ.
Pope John Paul II has echoed this same message in speaking especially to the women who have had abortions. He says, “Do not give in to discouragement and do not lose hope. Try rather to understand what happened and face it honestly. If you have not already done so, give yourselves over with humility and trust to repentance. The Father of mercies is ready to give you his forgiveness and peace in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. You will come to understand that nothing is definitively lost and you will also be able to ask forgiveness from your child, who is now living in the Lord.”
Listen to what the Pope is saying. “Nothing is definitively lost.” Everything can be restored. Why? Because your child is now “living in the Lord.” It is the miracle of the Resurrection. It is the hit-and-run victim at the door saying: “You do not have to be afraid anymore. You do not have to hide the truth any longer. For I am alive. You are forgiven. Go forth with joy and sin no more.”
Do you realize that it is one of the great mysteries of God’s grace that He can use our sins to make better people out of us? I don’t mean that He ever wants us to sin, but when we do, He can use our sins to teach us of our need to rely on Him. He can teach us humility.
I truly believe that there are no souls among us who have greater humility, or greater compassion for the failings of others, than the women and men who have had abortions, acknowledged their sins, and discovered the wonder of God’s healing compassion. Ask Paul, the persecutor of the Christians on the way to Damascus. Only those who have sinned greatly, only those with the blood of innocents on their hands, can fully experience the unlimited glory of God’s forgiveness. Is there no limit to His love, that we can be forgiven even the killing of our own children? Only those who have experienced such forgiveness can fully appreciate what I am talking about. It is life-transforming. It is the miraculous lifting of a great and terrible weight. It is not just being born again, it is the witnessing of a miracle. It is a participation in the Resurrection of Christ.
This is the experience which has been shared by many women and men who have carried the guilt of an abortion with them for years, or even decades. They have found that when they stop making excuses for their abortions, and instead confess them and trust in God’s loving care for their children–who are really our Heavenly Father’s children–they are made free, and clean, and whole.
It does not always happen in just a moment, because Satan tries to use the memory of our sins to hold us back. Even after we accept Christ’s forgiveness, Satan will try to use doubt, fear, and despair to deny us the full experience of healing which God wants for us. But if you have ever had an abortion, or if you know someone who has, you must take heart in knowing that there are other people who have already been down this road. They want to help you. They can help you. They understand everything you have been through because they have been there too. The first step is prayer. The second step is trusting in others to help you along the way.
I invite anyone who is struggling with the pain of a past abortion to contact one of the hundreds of post-abortion support and counseling groups around the country. There are many people who have walked this road ahead of you and they are ready and willing to reach out to you with compassion, understanding, and forgiveness.
Finally, I would ask everyone to pray for the people in our families, our cities, and our nation who continue to struggle with the guilt of abortion. Let us join together in prayer for all those who have completed, are traveling, or are about to begin the wonderful, but sometimes scary and difficult, journey to the joy of a complete post-abortion healing.
Originally published in The Jericho Plan: Breaking Down the Walls Which Prevent Post-Abortion Healing by David C. Reardon (Acorn Books, Springfield, IL.) Copyright 1996, David C. Reardon.