1 Thessalonians 2:9-13
For what is our hope or joy or crown of boasting before tour Lord Jesus at his coming? Is it not you? For you are our glory and joy (1 Thessalonians 2:19-20).
I serve on the board of a pregnancy care center, which means that I get to see a bit of the work that goes on there. I get to see the labor and persistence and creative thinking that goes into making appeals for financial support, so that the center can continue to serve without cost to those it serves. I receive the prayer requests for women—whose identities remain anonymous to us—women who are often conflicted about what to do and to whom to turn in the midst of unexpected and unwanted motherhood. I have met the staff that gathers resources and makes connections for jobs and childcare and homes and the like for women and men in need, the counselors who counsel, pray, and follow up with the women they serve, regardless of the decisions they make, the nurses who make themselves available on off-hours for ultrasound (because they understand that sometimes women won’t return), and the after-abortion counselors who seek to bring hope in midst of regret to the woman who wishes she could take back her abortion. I can only imagine the burdens those who work at pregnancy care centers carry home daily—for women in fractured relationships, for those inclined or being pressured toward abortion, for those who have chosen to keep their babies in the face of opposition from those closest to them. And for those women who simply disappear, who don’t return phone calls or texts.
In 1 Thessalonians 2, in words deep with feeling, Paul speaks about his relationship with the church in Thessalonica: “Our appeal does not spring from error or impurity or any attempt to deceive… we were gentle among you, like a nursing mother taking care of her own children… being affectionately desirous of you, we were ready to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own selves, because you had become very dear to us… we worked night and day, that we might not be a burden to any of you… we exhorted each of you and encouraged you….” These words well describe the work that goes on in thousands of pregnancy care centers across the country. Unlike abortion clinics, they take no money, neither from the government nor from the women they serve. Their work is not neatly left at the office, for human needs are not so easily bounded. They spend themselves, rejoicing with those who rejoice and weeping with those who weep.
But there is a tremendous upside not measured in terms of money or career advancement or the like. Every year at the pregnancy care center fundraising banquet, one or more women give personal and thankful testimony to the indispensable work of the center, often speaking with their infant sons or daughters in the room. And, I suspect, at that moment those who serve these women feel very much like Paul: “For what is our hope or joy or crown of boasting before our Lord Jesus at his coming? Is it not you? For you are our glory and joy” (1 Thess 2:19-20).
Take a moment get to know those in your community who serve at pregnancy care centers. Their work is quiet, often frustrating and discouraging, and glorious. Pray for them. Seek to serve them. Thank God for them.
Heavenly Father, we pray for the courageous women and men who work and volunteer at their local pregnancy care centers for the nurses who give care, the ultrasound technicians who have the privilege of showing women their unborn children, and the administrators who keep the doors open. We ask that You would bless their efforts, that they would see women chose life for their children and men embrace fatherhood. Protect them and provide for all their needs. We ask these things in Your Name, Amen.
This week’s reflection has been written by Anglicans for Life’s Board Member, the Rev. Dr. W. Ross Blackburn. Rev. Blackburn is the Rector of Christ the King, an Anglican Fellowship in Boone, NC.