By Deborah Hollifield, PPL Executive Director
“But when the time was right, God sent his Son, and a woman gave birth to him...” Galatians 4:4
One of the paradoxes of the Christian walk is that God exists outside the constraints of time, yet governs our earthly lives inside of time. Over our lifetimes we spend plenty of frustrating hours alternating between the heavy sighs of “waiting on God’s timing” and the happy gasps that come with the surprises of answered prayer. It seems we never stop trying to reconcile our personal timelines with God’s timing. For many of us, this struggle has never been more obvious or spiritually exhausting than in the long, chaotic months since March 2020. We have prayed for this compression of crises to end, yet here we are. It seems that barring a mighty act of God, at least the first months of 2022 will follow the same foggy – and sometimes frightening - path.
It is tempting to think this time is unique in the history of the world. For some interpreters, God’s prophetic timeclock has picked up speed.
Whether or not that is the case, the days unfold one at a time and must be lived out in the context of our own homes and communities, whether we are situated in the chaotic freedom of the United States or harried and locked down in Austria, Germany or Australia; just as the days unfold and must be lived out in ordinary ways where Christians are cruelly persecuted in China, North Korea, Nigeria and elsewhere; and just as the days unfolded in the daily lives of first century Jews living under the oppressive regime of the of the Roman Empire. We are often powerless, but we must live, raise children, work and eat.
Yet despite this midwinter seasonal and emotional gloom, we know that it is indeed passing, even if that passing is plodding. The brightness of the Christmas season, with its lights and music takes the edge off for a few weeks. We anticipate the lengthening days as the dark, wet cold gradually gives way to the light of spring. Even in winter the warmth of the sun can lift our spirits. None of that hope is within our control: all of it is provided to the whole world, directly from the hand of God. God indeed numbers our days, so let us rejoice and be glad!
Scripture tells us that God sent Jesus to the world at “just the right time.” Israel was in a dark time of 400 years of God’s silence and in the midst of what would become almost 700 years of oppressive Roman occupation. Historians and theologians have speculated many possible reasons why God chose this place and time for the birth of Christ. Why was this particular young virgin chosen for his mother? Why this place and culture? The only answer available to us with any certainty is that it was “the right time” to save the world according to God’s plan.
On December 1 we listened as the Supreme Court heard arguments in the landmark case Dobbs v. Jackson’s Women’s Health Organization, the appeal that holds the most promise for gutting the tsunami of abortions since Roe v. Wade in 1973 (establishing abortion as a “fundamental right”); and Doe v. Bolton in 1973 (which broadened the scope of time to obtain an abortion even up to the point of birth, as long as it was determined that the “health of the mother” – a nebulous standard - was negatively impacted by continuing her pregnancy). After almost 50 years of the unrestricted abortion, during which time more than 62 million children died, we are poised at a moment of hope presented at “just the right time.”
From our vantage point in history, it’s easy to see that the last 50 years would have been a perilous time for the Savior of the world to occupy a human womb.
But we forget that everyone - including each preborn child since Roe v. Wade became the law of the land - bears the image of the same God who came as Savior 2,000 years ago. As Christ incarnate possessed both humanity, personhood and purpose in the womb, so too did each of those 62 million unborn children, and the preborn children in peril today. The arguments for life made in the Supreme Court this Advent season were the same holy arguments that brought Jesus to earth: that each person created in the image of God is worthy. Worthy of life so to hear the Gospel preached and the opportunity to receive God’s forgiveness for their Sin. Worthy of the price that Jesus paid for their ransom. Worthy of the gift of eternal life. Now is the time for the church to pray that our Supreme Court will be moved to repent of Roe and recognize the worth of all life. Now is “just the right time” – again.