When I was a young lawyer, I represented abused children in the foster care system. Many of these children were the child victims of rape, incest, physical abuse and neglect.
One day, I was interviewing my child-client when she started to cry. I asked her, “why are you crying?’ She responded, “People usually don’t ask me what I want, they just tell me what they are going to take from me.” I was startled and understood all too well how the most vulnerable amongst us, can experience trauma and exploitation to the degree that one becomes numb to one’s own desires and feelings.
I resumed the interview and I asked my client, “When you are sad, what makes you happy?” She replied, “I’m happy when my grandma takes me to church. At church I get to sing. I know I can’t sing as well as some of my friends, but I just like to sing anyway because it makes me feel good.”
In that one moment, I felt echoes from the heart of King David, the Psalmist, memorialized in Psalm 100 1-5: “Make a joyful noise unto the Lord, all ye lands. Serve the Lord with gladness: come before his presence with singing. Know ye that the Lord he is God: it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture. Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name. For the Lord is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endureth to all generations.”
Despite this child’s suffering in the form of physical abuse and neglect at the hands of her parents, she rejoiced at going to church with her grandmother. I was reminded at that moment, that we who belong to the Lord Jesus Christ, often experience pain, sadness, heartache and discomfort, but we truly find strength in rejoicing in the Lord. A child’s simple reminder that praising God can lift you emotionally from even the darkest tragedies was worth all the gold in Fort Knox.
I know that when tragedy strikes at the heart of the believer, sometimes the first instinct is to run from God. We say to ourselves, “why me? What did I do to deserve this?” Sometimes, the answer is, “Nothing.” There was nothing my client did to deserve such hideous abuse. But, despite the abuse she suffered, she found a true resting place in God. Always remember, praising God in tragedy is paramount for a closer relationship with God, even when we don’t understand all that is happening. Psalm 68: 19 says, “Praise be to the Lord, to God our Savior, who daily bears our burdens. Selah”
Because I knew the nature and type of abuse my child-client experienced, I was moved to always remember that God’s people are not immune to suffering. Nevertheless, we can rest assured that our Lord loves us and yes, sometimes the righteous will suffer persecution. But isn’t it wonderful to know, one of the last things Jesus said to his disciples before he ascended on high, comes from Matthew 28: 20b “I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen.”