I Asked God To Take My Pain And He Said No
The children are playing catch with a dead chicken and their clothes are tattered and torn. The stench of fish fills the air and I see the women of the village cooking dinner over the coal. My obroni (white person) skin is not used to the African sun so I step inside the mud hut to find rest.
The children's laughter becomes background noise as my heart beat gets louder and louder.
Ba boom, ba boom, ba boom.
Her eyes pierce mine - they are dark as night. She lay nude on the dirt floor, her legs covered in blood pouring out from her vagina. She reaches for me but says no words. She is as starved for love as she is for food. I crouch down slowly, my heart racing - I wrap her in my arms and she weeps.
It's the end of the day and I'm back at the volunteer house. I'm lying inside this mosquito net trying to make sense of the world. Why did God show me that today? Why did He lead me all the way to Africa for this? I didn't come for this. I don't want this, God. This pain is too big and too deep for me. I came for the kids, for the orphans. I just wanted to travel and love and be with people, God. And now I can't stop thinking about what you showed me today. God, I know that pain. I recognize that emptiness, that vulnerability, that hopelessness. Human trafficking is real, and it isn't just back at home and on college campuses, God. It's here. It's all around the world. It's in remote places, God. Places we don't want to go. Places we don't know about. God, I don't want this at all. I'm telling you now that I am not capable of serving you in this way. I can try, God, but the magnitude of need just feels too big. My heart is aching and I'm weeping now. I've seen too much - I know too much now and all I want is to erase all of this from my memory. But what good would that do? The victims, the prostitutes, the pimps - their pain isn't just going to go away. Lord, I'm here, and I'm yours. Not for my will, but yours be done.
I later found out that more than half of the children in this village had been sexually violated in unimaginable ways. The scars on their bodies told the horrific story and their toughness proved they had been through hell. A team of volunteers found these children in a corrupt orphanage - terrified and traumatized after they had been raped. Some of them were as young as five years old. Human trafficking is the exploitation of vulnerability.
"It’s the illegal trade of human beings. It’s the recruitment, control, and use of people for their bodies and for their labor. Through force, fraud, and coercion, people everywhere are being bought and sold against their will–right now in the 21st century." - A21
I used to think that a reflection of Jesus had to be pretty, even perfect. But I've come to know that God loves scars. Four years ago my life was radically changed - as the pain from my own sexual assault became the essence of who I was. I prayed daily for God to take away my pain and He said no. He didn't cure me of all suffering over night or erase that hour from my memory. No, He didn't do that. Instead He was there with me daily as I learned to live again. He was there as I conquered my big fears - like traveling the world alone... and my small fears - like getting gas in broad daylight.
If you are crying out to God today and He is answering you by saying NO - you must know that you are in good company. In Mark 14, Jesus shows his humanness when He realizes the great pain He will endure on the cross. He knew His crucifixion would pay the ultimate price for the people of the world, but that doesn't make the suffering any less. He calls His great friends to comfort Him and He cries out to God, asking if there is any other way that the people of the world can be forgiven.
I imagine modern day Jesus saying something like this: "The weight of sin in this world is going to be too much for me to bare as I am nailed to the cross. I can't take this pain. Is there any other way that the world can have redemption?" God responds to Jesus by saying no. At this point something changes in Jesus. He isn't living for himself, He is honoring God and He is willing to suffer greatly to bring people to know God. "Then your will be done, and not my own," He says.
Jesus himself lived perfectly and loved perfectly - but he bore the weight of the world in the form of suffering. He didn't hide his scars from the world, and in doing so He taught us that we will suffer greatly on earth for the glory of God. God uses our trials - big and small - to bring people to know Him. He uses our pain for a greater story, a bigger purpose.
Jesus' desire to serve the world was greater than His desire to serve himself. He was willing to suffer greatly to bring people to know God.
“God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pains: it is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world.”
- C.S. Lewis
Forcing, deceiving, or coercing a person to perform a commercial sex act or when the person is younger than 18 years old. A commercial sex act means any item of value is traded for any sexual service (i.e. prostitution, pornography, or sexual performance).
Forcing a person to work in captivity for little or no pay.
Forcing a person to work for low wages to pay back an impossible debt.
INVOLUNTARY DOMESTIC SERVITUDE
Forcing a person to work and live in the same place for little or no pay.
Forcing a child to participate in an armed force.
- A21 Organization