I walk with people through all kinds of tough places.
Some need me to assist them through midlife crises. Many are survivors from sexual and other kinds of abuse which has left them in incredible pain and without grounding as adults. I assist them to receive the Hand needed to lift them out of the muck and mire, so they can place their feet on a rock; God gives them a sure place to stand.
It’s a privilege. A distinct honor to be able to do so.
One of the hobbies in my life is biblical storytelling. I have trained with the international organization Simply the Story and now serve as a lead instructor. Through storytelling, I’ve discovered a wealth of joy in sharing stories from the Bible in engaging ways.
Recently I have been learning Psalm 107. One section says:
Some sat in darkness, utter darkness;
Prisoners suffering in iron chains,
Because they had rebelled against God’s commands
and despised the plans of the Most High.
So, God subjected them to bitter labor,
they stumbled with no one to help.
They they cried out to God in their trouble,
And He delivered them from their distress.
He brought them out of darkness, utter darkness,
And broke off their chains.
Let them give thanks to the Lord for His unfailing love,
And His wonderful works for men.
For He breaks down gates of bronze and cuts through bars of iron.Psalm 107: 10-16
I had pondered this passage for a week, struck with the language “utter darkness” and felt this seemed to refer not to physical but spiritual suffering. Although it spoke of iron chains and being subjected to bitter labor, there are strong chains and intense labors unseen to the eye. People can be captive within their hearts and minds. They can be trapped.
I’ve seen this often.
So, because I had been reflecting upon this story from scripture, it was in my heart and mind.
As I met with a client we began to work on through the complexity of memory and pain from the past. Suddenly, in the imagery of her heart, she looked up and said, “I am in a dark cavern.” I explored this a bit but felt a prompt to just recite the passage above over her. So, I did, without preamble or introduction. She was already in the utter darkness; she needed rescue.
She had her eyes closed, her cheeks wet with tears.
As I finished the words, she looked up and said, “God reached in as you spoke and rescued me; He pulled me out of the cavern. I’m free.”
I had not expected this. Astounded at the grace of God, I remembered later in this same Psalm the words,
“God sent forth His Word and healed them.”Psalm 107:20
This was exactly what God had done.
We had more work to do that day, but how this moment had demonstrated God’s power and mercy, as the psalmist had written,
“Give thanks to the Lord for He is good; His mercy endures forever.”Psalm 107:1
This experience left me wondering how many people do I meet day by day who are trapped within, prisoners suffering in iron chains. How many are suffering bitter labors as a result of their own rebellion, despising God’s plans in their lives, or perhaps trapped because of the actions of others against them?
A single mom told me of her 10-year-old daughter, Mindy, estranged from her dad. He has refused all opportunities for parenting time ever since the court ordered supervised visits. Mindy and her siblings had experienced literal terror with their dad in previous visits through his drunken rages and mood swings.
She had not even seen him for a year. That is until yesterday. Mindy and her good friend Janet were at a local park and she thought she saw her dad across the park. There he was in his orange Beaver’s sweatshirt, baseball cap, and beard. It was him. Janet knelt next to Mindy behind a bush.
Immediately, upon seeing her dad, Mindy had begun hyperventilating, hoodie pulled down over her head, her cheeks wet. Mindy was in a dark cavern, the past overtaking the present. When Janet glanced again, Mindy’s dad was gone.
“What did you do?” her mom had asked, later, as Mindy retold the story.
“When I saw he had left, Janet and I walked to her house and went in the back door. Then, she and her older brother walked me back home. I prayed every step of the way, Mom, just like my therapist has taught me.”
Even at age 10, Mindy had experienced protection through her friends and deliverance through God and prayer. Another escape from a dark cavern.
I’ve been in such utter darkness plenty of times and experienced deliverance. God is not scared of the dark, but courageous. As Psalm 139 announces,
“Even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light for you”Psalm 139:12
In the middle of these times, which sometimes feel super dark, just like that cavern, I’m thankful for these reminders of the delivering God. Indeed, God’s mercy never fails. God is not surprised even by supposed “leaks” or “plots” or “intrigues.” Indeed, God warns the kings of the earth when they rise up against Him, saying,
“Therefore, you kings, be wise; be warned, you rulers of the earth. Serve the Lord with fear and celebrate his rule with trembling. Kiss His Son, who He will be angry and your way will lead to your destructions, for His wrath can flare up in a moment. Blessed are all who take refuge in him.”Psalm 2:11-12
Blessed are all who take refuge in Him. Yes.