Now the LORD said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” So Abram went, as the LORD had told him, and Lot went with him (Genesis 12:1-4).
Concerning Abram leaving his home, there is much we are not told. How did Abram receive this news? Did he seek to have the Lord change his mind (as he did in Genesis 18)? Or did he go eagerly? How did Sarah respond when, on learning that she would be leaving her home, she asked Abram where they would go and heard, “I don’t know”? What about the rest of Abram’s family? And why did Lot decide to go with him?
On the other hand, Abram is told a great deal. The Lord tells Abram that He would show him the land eventually, presumably at the appropriate time. That He would make him a great nation. That He would bless him, and that Abram himself would be a blessing. The Lord also told Abram that He would protect him—blessing those who blessed him, and cursing those who cursed him. In other words, the Lord promised to care for him and use him to bless others as Abram embarked upon a journey fraught with unknowns.
In some ways, Abram’s lot isn’t much different from ours, for the Lord seldom allows us to see very far ahead. When the prophet Isaiah said “Here am I, send me!” he had no idea where or to whom the Lord would send him. The disciples were not told where Jesus was going when Jesus called to them, “Follow me.” Mary was told that she would bear a child, the Son of the Most High, but she wasn’t told how all this would work out. What would everyone think? Most especially, Joseph? And yet, the promise for all, whether implied or explicit, was the same: “I am with you.”
All this is worth remembering, particularly for those involved in pro-life work. For a mother carrying an unexpected (and perhaps unwanted) child, the road ahead is seldom clear. Trying to envision life with a child—which may mean giving up a dream or significantly changing course—is scary, particularly if a mother is alone. Anticipating how those most important to her will react is scary. As is figuring out how to raise a child, or how to give him to another. For many, abortion is the least scary road, because it seems to lead to a place that is clear and certain. Whether or not that is true in the end is beside the point—that is often how it appears at the onset of an unwanted pregnancy.
Our plea to a woman who is pregnant and fearful is to trust God. Yes, that includes our being available to help in whatever way possible (recognizing that there are ways in which we won’t be able to help). But in the end, we are asking her to trust God. That is no small matter. And yet, doesn’t God call us to the same? The call to follow Jesus, whether given to the disciple Peter or to you or to me, is a call to trust, often when the road ahead is unclear. And I suspect that the call for a pregnant and fearful woman to trust God, however it is given—friend to friend, counselor to client, mother to daughter, teacher to student—will be given with greater weight and received with greater openness if it is made by one who, like Abram or Sarah, knows something of what it means to trust God personally. Especially when to do so is scary.