I’ve mentioned before that as I came out of my nightmare and began seeking healing several years ago, there was no one who believed my story, or knew how to help me. The depth of evil that I experienced was repulsive to Christian ears, and because people did not want to even think that kind of evil existed, hurtful things tumbled out of their mouths constantly. I know now that their God was not big enough to them to overcome the magnitude of evil that I described. In this situation, they really had no other choice than to cast the problem onto me. I must be making this stuff up. Surely it was not exactly like I was describing it…… anything to make it my problem and not theirs because that was way too scary…..anything to just shut me up and make their fear go away.
If you are one who has answered the call to look the evil of sex trafficking square in the face today and become part of the solution, can I just tell you that you are amazing? You are here for such a time as this. You are part of a generation that Christ has raised up to bring justice to countless people who have waited for a redeemer, and some have been waiting for years. Now is the time.
A whole generation has woken up to the sufferings of their friends, just as Job’s friends heard about his suffering and responded:
Now when Job’s three friends heard of all this adversity that had come upon him, they came each one from his own place…..to sympathize with him and comfort him. Job 2:11
First of all, Job was an amazing guy, so I’m pretty sure he had more than three friends. But only three came. If you have been called to fight this fight, then you truly are among the few who are willing to go from your “own” place – your place of comfort and security – to a place where there is devastation and pain. Job’s friends are remembered mostly for their insensitivity and lack of understanding. But today, I want to look at what they did right, because they definitely started out on the journey with Job with impressively appropriate responses.
And when they lifted up their eyes at a distance, and did not recognize him, they raised their voices and wept. And each of them tore his robe, and they threw dust over their heads toward the sky. Job 2:12
Maybe you jumped into this fight thinking that you would be able to really “do” something, so you went. But as you have looked at the reality of the suffering that consumes this world of trafficking, an overwhelming grief has washed over you. And this is good. When we look at this level of human suffering and pain, we should have no other response than to fall on our faces, raising our voices to heaven and weeping. I believe that Job’s friends came face to face with their own vulnerability and their own weakness the moment they looked upon their friend’s suffering. As an abolitionist, you must reach this place – the place where you realize that the problem is so much bigger than you are – where you weep loudly and mourn not only for her loss, but for your own powerlessness in her loss.
This is where I perceive the anti-trafficking “movement” is right now. Thousands have looked upon the suffering of their fellow friends and have begun to cry out loudly – to lift their voices and weep openly for victims of human trafficking. It is the awareness phase. And it is good.
Notice what Job’s friends did next:
Then they sat down on the ground with him for seven days and seven nights with no one speaking a word to him, for they saw that his pain was very great. Job 2:13
I want to point out 4 key parts to their response that made it so appropriate. As you begin to move into the next phase of this movement, where you are not only just seeing the pain, but you are engaging face to face with survivors of hell, please heed the wisdom of Job’s friends in this verse:
1. They sat down on the ground with him. That’s where Job was. He was sitting on the ground in the ashes of his losses and cutting himself. (Job 2:8) I can only imagine the scene. Here was their friend, his entire body covered in boils, in acute pain, with his life in ashes around him, scraping his oozing, bleeding skin with pieces of pottery. And his friends’ first response was to just sit down in his mess with him. In doing so, they acknowledged the depth of his pain, and their utter inability to fix it. When you encounter a trafficking survivor, you must be willing to drop your agenda and just sit down in the mess with them for a time.
2. They sat for seven days and seven nights – This seems obvious, but I’m going to say it anyways. Her pain does not disappear while you sleep. She is tormented day and night – not just during business hours. We have bought into this whole culture of “boundaries” and are quick to judge this type of availability as “co-dependent” or unhealthy. I am not saying that you alone can be the only person to provide this type of availability to a survivor in the really hard first
days months. Job had three friends. I imagine their humanness took over and they took turns sleeping. Community is essential. But understand – a trafficking survivor needs “friends” that will sit with her in her pain, who are available to her day and night for a period of time. This will not make her co-dependent or cause her to form unhealthy attachments – it will simply comfort her during her time of extreme need. I know what some of you are thinking. Put your textbooks away.
3. ….with no one speaking a word to him. – Not a word. This is the wisest and most important thing Job’s friends did. In fact, once they did open their mouths, they became fools and wasted their opportunity to see their friend through his trauma. But for this brief time, they were so overwhelmed by his pain and so dumbfounded at their own lack of answers for Job that they did the wisest thing ever and they SHUT THEIR MOUTHS. I might have mentioned this a time or two on this blog, but you do not have her answer. So learn to shut your mouth and pray. Listen and cry. But don’t talk unless you are sure that God is giving you words.
4. …..for they saw that his pain was great. – It is the overwhelming pain experienced by survivors of trafficking that should drive us to the place where we are able to do numbers 1-3. I have heard many abolitionists express that they don’t “have a grid” for what survivors have been through. Acknowledging this is very important because it makes room for God to come into places you can’t pretend to go. You are not doing as some did to me and pretending that things like this don’t happen. You are simply sitting with her in her pain and grieving with her, quietly, without trying to fix her, while crying out to God. Her pain is on His grid – He was there.