Hope and Mercy

Eighteen-year-old Sheila Jackson had walked in with two souls and left with none. She could not escape the sinking feeling that she had made a grave mistake. This would be a dividing line in her life—Sheila pre-abortion and Shelia post-abortion. And already she did not like the latter.

 

Before she had gone into the clinic, she had seen a man carrying a sign which said, “Choose Life.” The man’s eyes connected with Sheila’s. “Don’t do this. You’ll regret it,” he said. She wanted to talk more with him, but Sheila’s boyfriend, Eric, hurried her inside.
As she sat in the waiting room, she thought about what the man had said. She couldn’t get it out of her head. But he didn’t understand–she didn’t have a choice. Her parents had pressured her to do this. They told her that she was still in high-school and that having a child would ruin all of plans for college, not to mention the embarrassment of having a child out of wedlock. Eric was noncommittal and told her that he would be fine with whatever she decided. She secretly had hoped he would tell her to keep the baby. She needed some kind of support to be strong and make the right decision, but everyone wanted to run away from the situation and make it disappear.

 
Eric and Sheila walked out of the clinic towards Eric’s car. It was a blustery, cold day in early February. “Just take me home. I want to go to sleep,” she told him.
“Are you alright?” Eric tried to show concern. Sheila was in no mood to talk. She hadn’t expected it to be like this. Before the abortion, she thought maybe she would be able to put it all behind her, but now she knew better.

 
On the way home, Sheila kept seeing things that reminded her of the baby. They passed a billboard with an advertisement for a hospital. It had a picture of a baby with the words, “We help you bring new life into the world.” Nothing could have made her feel worse. And right before they reached her neighborhood, they stopped behind a car which had a “Baby on Board” sign. She wanted to crawl under a rock and hide from the world. She felt so guilty, so unworthy. She hated herself. How could she ever be happy again?
Eric dropped her off at her house, and they really didn’t say much to each other except “good-bye.” She wasn’t sure what she felt now for Eric. A part of her resented him, but then she thought it was unfair to blame him when she had plenty of responsibility in this.

 
Sheila went straight to her room and got into bed. She lay there a long time and thought about what she had just done. She eventually fell asleep and dreamed that she was at a birthday party at her house. Her parents were there along with some of her other family. When she entered the kitchen, there was a baby boy in the high chair with a birthday cake in front of him. It had one candle on it. The baby smiled at her, and she smiled back. She went over and picked him up. It was her baby. She felt such joy holding him. She gazed into his eyes, and he smiled back at her. Then suddenly he lifted up his head and got an angry look on his face. He looked directly at her and said, “Why did you kill me?”
Sheila jumped up out of bed in a cold sweat. She was breathing heavily, and she began weeping bitterly. She didn’t know it was possible to feel such guilt. It crushed her soul and made it hard for her to breathe. She felt like she was going to collapse onto the floor.
Sheila thought that maybe she should try to read her Bible. She hadn’t read it in a long time. She randomly flipped it open, and her eyes fell upon Proverbs 6. She began reading the chapter, and she came across verses 16 and 17. Hands that shed innocent blood were third on the list of the things that the Lord hates. She quickly shut it. She felt nothing but judgment and guilt. Everything seemed hopeless.

 
The emotional pain she felt now was too great for her to bear. She began thinking of ways she could commit suicide, but after a few minutes she decided that wasn’t a good idea. She couldn’t do that to her parents and family. She was always taught that suicide was not the answer. That was just a way of giving up and not facing her problems.
She wanted to call her best friend, but she felt too ashamed to talk to her. She decided to risk going back to sleep, hoping she didn’t have another nightmare. She got back in bed and pulled the covers over her head. She would hide from the world as long as possible.
Somehow Sheila survived the next few weeks. Eric and her soon broke up. It was a mutual decision. She went to school each day, but her mind was not on her studies. She sat in class and stared off into space, not hearing a word her teachers were saying. She was off in the world of her own mind. Guilt and obsessive thoughts consumed her. She withdrew socially from her circle of friends and extra-curricular activities. Life had lost its spark, and now everything seemed gray and hopeless for Sheila.

 
As she drove to and from school each day, she passed by a church. It had a marquee with a Bible verse on it that changed every week. Sheila found herself reading it quite often. It was always very encouraging and made her feel better. She thought about trying to go to church sometime. She and her family had not been to church since she was in elementary school. She had to admit to herself that she kind of missed going. As she drove by this day, she noticed that the sign said they had services tonight at 7 p.m. Maybe she would go.

 
Sheila went home and had dinner with her parents. She told them after they finished eating that she was going out. They asked where she was headed, but she didn’t say. She felt weird telling them she was going to church. Since her parents hadn’t been in a long time, she feared that they might not want her to go.

 
When Sheila arrived at the church, she walked in and sat on the back row. She was late, and the services had already begun. The choir sang, “Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing.” After the song, the pastor went up to the pulpit and began the message. He asked the congregation to turn to Psalm 130. The title of the sermon, “For with the Lord there is Mercy,” appeared on two screens on either side of the stage.

 
Never before had a sermon pierced Sheila’s heart like this one. It was heaven sent. As Sheila listened to the pastor’s words, everything else around her faded. It was as if he were speaking directly to her. The message was exactly the balm that her wounded soul needed to hear.

 
The preacher wrapped up his sermon, and a picture of Jesus on the cross appeared on the screens. Sheila looked at it and understood the Gospel for the first time. Jesus suffered and died on that cross for her sins, including the sin of killing her baby.
“And he rose again the third day,” the preacher said as he explained the Gospel. Hope welled up in Sheila’s soul. Jesus conquered death and rose to new life. This impacted her in a profound way as she pondered the death of her child.

 
When the preacher gave the invitation and asked everyone to stand, Sheila remained seated in the pew and poured out her heart to God in prayer. “God, have mercy upon me; please forgive me. Give me a second chance, Lord. Don’t deal with me in your anger or wrath, but in your love and mercy. Please save me, Lord Jesus.” She felt God touching her soul. She hadn’t felt that warmth in a long time. For the past several weeks, it had felt like God had turned from Sheila and shut her out. But now she experienced his new life and resurrection. There was hope to be found, and mercy, too—and she found them in Christ.

 
Sheila had walked out of the abortion clinic a different person, but for the worse. Now she walked out of that church a changed person, but this time for the better. What she had destroyed, God had restored. She couldn’t bring her baby back, but maybe she could convince other women to avoid her terrible mistake. Tomorrow, she would go back to the clinic and try to do just that.

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