1 Thessalonians 2:9-20
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 Thessalonians 2:19-20).
I serve on the board of a pregnancy care center, which means I am familiar with the work that goes on there. I see the labor and persistence and creative thinking that goes into producing the appeals for financial support enabling the center to continue to serve without cost to those it serves. I receive the prayer requests for women—whose identities remain anonymous to us—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 advise, pray, and follow up with the women they serve regardless of the decisions these women make; the nurses who make themselves available during off-hours for ultrasound (because they understand that sometimes women won’t return); and the post-abortion counselors who seek to bring hope in the midst of regret to the woman who wishes she could take back her abortion. I can only imagine the burdens staff members 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 by 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.”
Paul’s words well describe the work that goes on in thousands of pregnancy care centers across the country. Unlike abortion clinics, these centers take no money, neither from the government nor from the women they serve. Their work is not neatly left behind at the office, for human needs are not so easily contained. They spend themselves, rejoicing with those who rejoice, and weeping with those who weep.
But there is a tremendous upside, which can’t be measured in terms of money or career advancement or the like. Every year at our fundraising banquet, one or more women give personal and thankful testimony to the indispensable work of the center, often speaking with their infant son or daughter 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.”
Take a moment to get to know those in your community who serve in this way. Their work is quiet, often frustrating and discouraging . . . and glorious. Pray for them. Seek to serve them. Thank God for them.