Across the Pastor’s Desk: Can we be sensitive to the unborn?

Published 8:00 pm Friday, September 2, 2022

Across the Pastor’s Desk by Nancy Overgaard

Sometimes I wonder if God made me too sensitive. When we discovered first the nest and then the robin eggs hidden in a honeysuckle bush in the backyard, I was cautiously excited. Yet, my enthusiasm was dampened by memories of watching ecstatically as a duck hid her nest in plain sight, beneath feathers, twigs and a hedge without leaves and as she secretly deposited two or three eggs at a time until there were nine; counting the days and waiting eagerly for the eggs to hatch; the thrill of getting to see the ducklings as they hatched, with their cute little bills and tiny webbed feet, quacking excitedly and tripping over each other, eager to explore their world; then, feeling intensely sad to find duck feathers strewn along the driveway and the ducklings nowhere to be found. Had a fox gotten them all? I felt sad for months, even years. They were so precious.

Nancy Overgaard

So, when I saw the speckled blue robin eggs, I felt guarded. Later, when two robins stood on the edge of the nest peering down, I was afraid something was wrong. They never came to the nest together; they always took turns. Had the eggs failed to hatch? Had a predator found their carefully concealed nest? Were the little ones sick? I did not hear any of the happy chatter I heard when the ducklings and finches hatched.

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When at last I spotted three or four baby robins stretching silently into view, I felt relieved. But, not for long. When the mother, who had been so secretive with her little ones, brought one of her fledglings right up to the glass door of the deck, ceremoniously dropped a worm in his mouth, looked intently at me, and flew away, my heart dropped. The feathery little bird did not look well, and it soon became clear he was not. He took one hop at a time, stopping to rest after each hop, until he reached the bottom rung of the deck railing where he sat and pooped all day long. 

If his mother thought I could help him, she was wrong. I had no idea what to do for him, and I was afraid if I touched him, she would disown him. I grieved for him all day long. He looked so miserable and alone. When a young house finch flew over and sat beside him, as if to keep him company, I almost cried. At least he had a friend. In the morning he was gone, and I could hardly bring myself to look at the pavement below for fear of finding him dead. When I finally checked, I was ecstatic to find him alive and sitting on a lower step. I prayed all day for him to get better.

So much emotion for one little bird and nine little ducklings! How much more for a little child? Recently, I held my youngest great niece in my arms and marveled at her delicate little eye lashes, her soft sandy blonde curls, her ability to wrap her little hand around my finger and hold on tight, the way she seemed to smile so easily despite all the pain and suffering in her few months of life. Diagnosed with serious health problems before she was born, she caused us all a lot of emotion even before her birth and throughout her first days, weeks and months of life. How we prayed for her, not only to survive, but to thrive. What joy and relief to see that happen!

Being painfully sensitive about the wellbeing of each of these little ones, before and after they are born, I find myself wondering how so many in our nation have become so insensitive towards unborn children as to jump up and down and cheer wildly after hearing that voters rejected, by a landslide, a law to protect the lives of these precious ones from being deliberately ended by abortion. I am dumbfounded to hear grandmothers angrily demand that their daughters be allowed to end the lives of their own unborn grandchildren. I am shocked that a majority cannot at least agree to prohibit abortion once unborn babies have heartbeats and feel pain. 

I also wonder how God feels about all of this. Is God painfully sensitive about each child who does not survive infancy? Does God wait in eager, even anxious, expectation for each child to be formed, each child to be born, since he not only sees the full development of each unborn child (Psalm 139:15), he fashions each one down to their eyelashes and curls (Psalm 139:13). Does God agonize over each child that dies? We do not need to wonder because Jesus told us — God notices every little sparrow that falls (Matthew 10:29). How much more so every little child, since he is so familiar with each one that he knows how much hair each one has even before they are born (Matthew 10:29). If Jesus cried when one man died (John 11:35), is it a stretch to think he cries over each child that dies when he considers children precious (Matthew 19:13-15)? 

We are left to wonder what can be done to protect these little ones after so much debate has failed to change hearts and minds that seem to be so hardened as to have lost normal human sensitivity toward the unborn. We can take encouragement from Ezekiel 36:26, that God can soften even the hardest hearts by the working of his Spirit. So, we can pray for people to become tenderhearted toward babies once again. We can heed Deuteronomy 4:9-10, that it is vital to teach God’s values to younger generations, so they develop sensitivity and compassion. 

It may not be necessary for everyone to become painfully sensitive, just humanely sensitive.

 Nancy Overgaard is a member of the Freeborn County Ministerial Association.