Did you have a “Current Events” day in school growing up? I did, it was on Friday’s.
Every Friday students were expected to bring in a clipping of a story from the newspaper. After lunch we would gather in a circle on the floor around the teacher, who sat in her seat. One by one we would stand to share our event in our own words, and answer questions from the students. Honestly, I hated it! This surprises me now, because I can easily get lost in reading up on all the “current events” of my day, and I really enjoy (usually) talking about our world with others. But when I was a kid I felt “dumb” and struggled with reading. One unfortunate remark by a teacher lodged in my little head for years that left me insecure about my intelligence. I believed the “other kids” were smart, but not me, so I learned to despise performing intellectually – reading out loud, taking tests, writing book reports or (the worst) science fair projects. I had no way of knowing that childhood trauma and sexual assault was playing a role in my ability to focus and concentrate, and I was certainly unaware that God was at work redeeming all that for me. It would be decades before I experienced healing from some of those early wounds in my story, and about the same time before I would own my intelligence as God-given and sufficient for the work God created me to do in this life.
But on this Friday, I want to share 2 current events from different parts of the world. If you can picture me standing up in our circle, I’m going to report on them briefly as I share my understanding of them using my own words. I’ll also share an absolutely wonderful resource with you at the end that is helping me better understand these events myself. I’m praying that before we move out from this circle time, you’ll choose to see these events through the lens I offer with my account – even if just for a moment. If you choose to do so, I’m hoping you too will discover a little more room for hope in your soul, even in the midst of suffering.
Current Event #1
A volcano erupted this week. The billowing cauliflower-like clouds of smoke poured out of Mount Soputan as the earth seemed to explode with violent wrath against the people walking all over her.
The volcano is on Sulawesi Island in central Indonesia, located in the “Ring of Fire”, and it erupted where an earthquake and tsunami last week killed at least 1,400 people. Authorities immediately warned those living within miles of the volcano to evacuate, and those traveling by air were warned that possible lava flows and ash clouds could delay flights. Days, weeks, months, even for years, an unseen heat and flame have been churning together under pressure hidden from view until finally, the ground could hold it in no longer. Other storms and signs of instability were giving hints of more to come, but still people went on living a high-functioning life with wild fire growing beneath them.
Whatever release the earth may have felt after her eruption, the impact on the greater community is devastation. Loss, grief, and a long road of starting over with ash…for miles.
Photo by Rob Bye on Unsplash
We are left to take in the information, the numbers, the stories, the images of a purge, and wonder what the heart of God must be if He would allow for such pain and loss to be felt by His own creation? I have wondered on this myself, but rather than let my observations turn me further away from God, I bring them directly to Him…and find He is not shaken by my doubts, questions and steam.
Current Event #2
I don’t need to summarize the state of affairs of our current national controversies for those reading this today, you know full well what the news is reporting on constantly. But just in case it’s the year 2050 and you are able to find this post, this year we have experienced an unprecedented number of women surfacing with stories of alleged sexual assaults, abuses and harassments lodged against teachers to movie moguls, and every brand of man in between. The “#metoo community” is growing daily as women recall encounters, add their name to a list of victims who have experienced violence on some level, and are coming out to share their story. The anger in the air is palpable, like Mount Soputan’s billows, fury is rising and mens’ backs largely bear the targets for decades of pent up resentment.
These are hard days. Lava is flowing in the streets. Communication channels are getting blocked and restoration feels delayed. Whether the recent testimonial under spotlight is true or not, there are women who have tried to hold down shame and grief for decades, that are now erupting on the scene crying out as a collective finding a target in Judge Kavanaugh. As an attorney who has worked in the legislative branch and is trained in Constitutional analysis more than most, I am asked often what my opinion is on the recent Senate hearings. How can I not have an opinion based on my observations? Everyone does.* Opinions are in high supply with little demand, and I have been praying about when and how to share mine, if at all. But in this matter, I see this as an opportunity to reach and comfort those who are bent low in this debate, and may feel stampeded in the noise. See, on one hand I can relate to the #metoo community personally, I understand why the anger is boiling over now. I have also ministered to hundreds of women who share a sexual assault testimony. There are people smarter than I am dealing with the political jockeying going on in D.C., and while I am disgusted by the shenanigans, my heart today moves toward the men and women suffering from trauma wondering where their hope rests.
Your hope is not in D.C., but it isn’t in a community of angry and fearful people either. I’ll share where I’ve found hope, and maybe it will be the path you were hoping existed, but didn’t know where to start.
Resurrection Hope for Survivors
The people of Sulawesi Island will never live on the land the way it was before Mount Soputan erupted. They have hope after grief though, but it won’t be in getting back at the volcano. It won’t be in removing the volcano from their land. It won’t be in building a lid big and strong enough to protect them from being ravaged again. No. Their hope is only in resurrection:
What is burned down today can be built up tomorrow.
From the first trauma on the earth, Evil has had a name, and it isn’t a human’s name. His name is Satan, and he has been churning and scheming to wreck the creation of God since God spoke it into being. Satan later entered the scene when humanity was born, and came with a stealthy lie. He twisted Eve’s trust in God and lulled her to believe she could decide for herself what was good for her, and with that doubt in God’s goodness, she violated God’s boundary set for her protection. God dignified her free will by letting her experience the consequences of her choice, but He saw Satan’s work for what it was and set in motion a redemption plan that would cost Him everything.
What Satan burned down in the Garden, God would build up on a cross.
Even in the Garden, God valued Eve as worth it all. Even her rejection of Him, her doubt of His good heart toward her, her pride in thinking she knew best, wasn’t enough to shake off His commitment to her and His love for her. She wouldn’t understand His plan, she wouldn’t even see it fully resolve in her lifetime, but God set in motion a strategic mission that would take His only Son through the worst of humanity’s abuse and pain just so each man and woman who trusted in Jesus as their Messiah (“Savior”), could have resurrection hope.
This is the hope of the Gospel, the hope Jesus offers all of us, women and men, today, even in the midst of violence and abuse against one another: what is burned down today can be built up tomorrow.
Jesus can say #metoo
I said it earlier, technically I could say #metoo as a survivor of sexual assault and exposure as a child, as well as sexual harassment in the workplace as an adult. I write some about this in my book, All The Wild Pearls, because events like these undeniably shape us. Sexual assault has a way of burning down how we once experienced life and reconfigures our landscape, disorienting the way we see ourselves, others, our world and God. Some women never find a path of real healing, and stay stuck churning heat and flame of soul until they release with wrath returning violence for violence. Often we do to others what has been done to us, and I know first-hand men who experienced violence at the hands of women, who carry their own weight of shame.
I also know how isolating and devastating it feels to find that your confession isn’t believed. In my experience as an adult, the several exchanges had were private. Being a young woman testifying against a respected man, at first the person in charge wasn’t sure he could believe me. The whole ordeal was a terrible nightmare, and I felt lost, alone, abandoned, and all my childhood traumas surfaced with their haunting messages. I felt like I would erupt myself. I didn’t know how else to move forward since I could not work in that environment anymore, but I also knew a testimony alone was not enough to conclusively prove wrongdoing against another person, nor did I think it should. I respect logic and due process, and while I longed to be believed, I also knew I wouldn’t want someone to lodge a lie about me and have it win the day. My trust ultimately was in God to avenge me, for Him to bring justice in the way He saw most fit. I prayed for God to bring to light what was done in the darkness, and chose to trust that whatever was best for me would come to pass regardless of what authorities chose. The next day I found one of the unsolicited emails I forgot to delete that served as proof to corroborate my testimony, and by the end of the week a kind of justice prevailed for me. Even had I never received that proof though, God knew the truth and was committed to my soul’s resurrection. In a quiet place of my soul I could feel the freedom behind the verse, “The Lord is on my side; I will not fear. What can mere people do to me?” Psalm 118:6
What was burned down that day, would be built up starting that very next day.
Soon after wrongs were made right in my workplace, I started to get counseling to learn how to see with eyes of love, not fear, and to heal from the assaults of my past. Justice is good, but it isn’t what heals us. We can win in court and lose in bitterness. Also, God’s good plan for me was revealed as I finally dealt with the pain in my childhood during those counseling sessions. Author and speaker, Susie Larson says in her book, “Fully Alive” that we don’t need to live in fear of storms in our lives anymore because, “The storms reveal the lies we believe and the truths we need.” My storm of sexual harassment was a gift in that it helped reveal lies I was believing from childhood trauma, and I was able to get the truth I needed into those stuck places.
If you are looking for health, freedom and wholeness, I believe God has answers for you, and a path to a flourishing life. While His Word contains the hope you need, I want to recommend you start your journey with this resource to guide you in applying God’s Word, as well as helping you learn effective prayer: Fully Alive – Learing to Flourish – Mind, Body & Spirit.** Susie Larson helps connect your soul to your cells, and offers an uplifting guide to soothe the distressed soul. I also recommend her 10-DVD series, but if you cannot wait for a little taste of the good wisdom that awaits, you can listen to her interview with Heather MacFayden on the Don’t Mom Alone Podcast recently.
Several years after my workplace experience, I was able to sit across from the man who was used to cause me pain, along with two other supports. I say “used” because Scripture explains that we aren’t battling each other on the human level. We battle against “the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” Ephesians 6:12. With much prayer and inner healing, I was able to name my pain, hold him responsible for his part, but was sincerely able to release him with the forgiveness of Christ. That man was a victim of Satan’s assault, wanting to be different, but was living out of his own pain bringing it unchecked into the lives of others. As I sat there I was cut to the heart at my own ability to do the same. Truly, we all come to the Gospel broken and cut, in need of healing and resurrection.
Our enemy is no respecter of persons, he will aim straight and hit each of us at some point. He even aimed at God, hit Him, and for one weekend believed he won. Jesus understands violence, rejection, abuse, assault, misunderstanding, isolation, shame, and injustice in the truest sense. He had committed no sin against any person ever, yet He was stripped naked, whipped, and left nailed, exposed, mocked and spat upon on a cross. By the hands of men and women.
His resurrection came though, one fine Sunday.
If you had just endured the worst mistreatment ever recorded, and had the chance to come back victoriously, who would you go see first? On a real day, I’d go have it out with the mob that just slaughtered me. I’d freak them out and threaten them with the same future. But maybe that’s just me. You can pray for me. But here is what we see Jesus do. We don’t see record of Jesus going after all the soldiers, the jury, the mockers, fighting back with violence. We don’t see stories of pay back on the humanity that ravaged Him. We see a calm and joyful Jesus, open handed, showing the scars and letting us touch them because we still just don’t believe God is that good.
And sisters, brothers, followers of Jesus in an erupting culture of sexual violence, anger, anxiety and grief…we are being entrusted with the sufferings of Christ so we too show the scars, let others touch our wounded places healed, and offer the Good News: yes, God is this good. He resurrects the dead, He heals the broken-hearted and He binds up our wounds.
Our hope is not in stopping evil in this life, just as we won’t stop volcanoes from erupting.
Our hope is, always was, and always will be, only in resurrection.
May we be the ones to offer the hope of it.
*Due process protects each of us from the injustice of condemnation based on insufficient evidence. No, it is not a perfect system. Imperfect people manage the system on an imperfect earth. However, imagine the chaos of a system that allows for you to face a guillotine based on one person’s memory of an event? Based on the evidence presented so far in the U.S. Senate hearings, on both sides, I believe there is insufficient evidence to discredit Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s well-documented history of upholding constitutional principles in legal proceedings. I pray for truth to prevail, for God to bring to light what is being done in the dark – whatever that may mean.
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