As a parent, I can testify there is no hurt that compares to the pain of watching your child hurt. Anyone who watched their child struggle with hurt, pain, fear, and loss would liken it to daggers of fire piercing their hearts.

Been there, done that. I have said more than once that I would prefer to have screws drilled into my toes than watch one of my kids suffer. If that is a little too graphic for you, I’m sorry. It’s just the truth.

This is the kind of pain seen at HOPE on a weekly basis. We watch the moms and dads of our patients sit in the lobby while their very own baby is taking a pregnancy test. Tough stuff.

Sometimes their pain flows out in rivers of tears; other times it shows in angry words. Sometimes it bears itself in thick plumes of cigarette smoke blowing up from the parking lot. Often though, it takes on a life of its own as a thick and quiet wall of pain, looking down at its phone and wishing it was anywhere else but Hope Resource Center.

Yet, here they are and there is zero chance of turning back. The deed is done and now comes the harsh reality of their baby having a baby. More times than I can count, these parents are re-living their own experiences.

Unplanned pregnancy is often cyclical and has the fingerprints of more than one generation. Its pain has a familiar ring to it and is often a reflection of unresolved issues from generations gone by. Just like the children of Israel, they are on a long desert journey of their own making and the sand keeps getting kicked up in their faces.

It might be helpful for us to remember that among the children of Israel, there were CHILDREN. From infants to toddlers, from toddlers, to teenagers, you can bet your bottom dollar the ranks of the Israelites were filled with kids – real kids making real choices and driving their parents nuts.

Let’s not fool ourselves into thinking they didn’t get into a world of trouble just because they were in the desert. Maybe they played hide and seek behind the tents, maybe they got mad at their parents and ran away to a different caravan. Maybe they tied the tails of the camels into knots. Who knows, maybe they tried to smoke the manna! Regardless, they were young and dumb and the consequences were still hard. Maybe there were unplanned pregnancies.

As a matter of fact, I am sure of it.  I can’t help but think about this every time I read Deuteronomy 30: 19 as God declared, This day I call heaven and earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live.

These parents were most likely faced with the same decision as the terrified parents in HOPE’s lobby. How do I save my child’s life and am I willing to take the life of another to do it?

But suddenly, in the midst of God’s strong and stern warning, the next words ring out with fresh hope: Hold fast to Him, for the Lord is your life, and just like that, brokenness sees a glimmer of hope.

Maybe I see a lifeline. Maybe YAHWEH is the same in this desert of my life as he was in the Jordan. Maybe he is making a way just like he always has. Maybe he is THE WAY.

Friends, God is in charge. He allows us free will so that we are accustomed to choosing between a blessing and a curse. Sometimes in the midst of our pain, it is hard to know the difference. However, God, being full of grace, shows us the difference. It is the difference between life and death and the distance between the two will be measured in a split second. Hold fast to him. I can just hear Moses crying out saying, Hang on to the LORD! He is with you! Your children can and WILL see the Promised Land but you CAN’T LET GO!

At Hope Resource Center, our job is to teach not just our patients, but also their parents how to hang on. We try our best to show them a holy, unbreakable lifeline that will enable them to get through their circumstance and bring their children out on the other side in the Promised Land. We want them to realize that we are here for them, too!

There is grace in every soft drink and wad of tear soaked tissue. There is mercy in every held hand and patted back.  We pray there is power in every flicker of heart beating life from the ultrasound machine. As we hold fast to God, he holds fast to us and we then hold fast to them so they can recognize the hand of an unchanging God…and reach for it.

posted by Lu Anne Tilson, Director of Operations, Hope Resource Center