So Monday, I did an extensive intake on a trafficking survivor. As she told her story about her family of origin and abuse she suffered by her father, mother and sister, I began to weep. I was so grieved by the things she experienced – things God never meant a little girl to hear or suffer – events that will forever be a part of her memories, and how she defines reality and personal safety. I stopped and said, “I am just so sorry, so sorry that you experienced those things. No one should be treated like that – and I’m so sorry those things happened to you.” I was able to stop weeping – but it seemed like my tear gaskets were leaky for the rest of the day.
That evening – kinda sweet – she texted me, and thanked me, saying no one had ever wept over her story before… And that some day she hoped to be healthy enough that she could weep over someone else’s story as I had for her.
The next day, I was up early and reading Renting Lacy, by Linda Smith and Cindy Coloma, published by Shared Hope. It is the story of “Lacy,” a young teenage girl snared into sex trafficking by an older man, a pimp, who pretended to love her. He bought her affections – and devotion – through a few cheap meals, costume jewelry and gifts. I read a short chapter, then thought to read a bit more into the next chapter… Strategic error… I began to weep, and this time I could not stop. Sigh…
So I went to my office to spend time soaking in worship music – still weeping, still messed up by the cruelty, the sad and heartbreaking stories so many people have to share. I pulled up IHOPKC.org’s prayer room and sank into the loveseat in my office, trying (unsuccessfully) to pull myself together – since I had a day full of client appointments starting in a couple hours. I listened to the music for maybe a half hour – tears still coursing down my cheeks, cuddled up with a box of tissues. And then… the vocalist, Matt Gillman, began to sing from Psalm 84:
5 Blessed is the man whose strength is in You, Whose heart is set on pilgrimage.
6 As they pass through the Valley of Baca, They make it a spring; The rain also covers it with pools.
7 They go from strength to strength; Each one appears before God in Zion.
As he sang about the Valley of Baca – which means weeping – I realized the Lord was speaking to me. These stories, the realities of modern day trafficking and childhood abuse, neglect and abandonment really do represent passages filled with pain, disappointments and hopelessness. But God is calling believers to act as His ambassadors – introducing His hope, bringing healing and restoring destiny. These elements transform the Valley of Weeping – times of intense pain and suffering – into springs of refreshing, nourishment and comfort.
And yes, I do hear stories that are intensely distressing and disturbing, even grievous… But I also carry the truth that God can redeem anything. He can take the swords that were meant to destroy us (Is 2:4) and help us beat them into plowshares – instruments of productivity and a source of nourishment not only for myself, but others in my sphere of influence. He can take the spears that were used against me and help me beat them into pruning hooks – producing fruit that is sweet to the taste and refreshing.
OK… That works.