Sunday, May 1, 2022

Writing from the Valley


by Audrey Frank @AudreyCFrank

Even when their paths wind through the dark valley of tears, they dig deep to find a pleasant pool where others find only pain. He gives to them a brook of blessing filled from the rain of an outpouring. They grow stronger and stronger with every step forward, and the God of all gods will appear before them in Zion. Psalm 84:6-7, The Passion Translation

I was in Jordan, the dusty country nestled square between Israel, Syria, Iraq, and Saudi Arabia. Jordan shelters over 500,000 displaced people in one of the largest refugee camps in the world. Friends had asked me to visit a Syrian family because we had something terrible in common. We both had children who had been critically injured by fire. We both understood the long journey of wound care, the slow healing process. The searing pain that remained in all our hearts long after the scars took shape.

As we sped north toward the Syrian border, I cried out to Jesus.

What do You want me to say to them? This is still raw for me. I am not sure I am fit to encourage them. This valley stretches long in front of me, Lord. I need a little longer, to be a little stronger first.

I had been writing my way through the valley. But my words were between me and my Lord. Not for others, yet.

His voice came familiar, clear. He reminded me of a dream I had a year earlier. I dreamed I met a mother from Syria. We met in a burn intensive care unit because both of us had children critically injured by fire. I woke up and wrote it all down in my journal and promptly forgot about it as wound care duty called.

Now, the dream was clear again.

I told you one day you would meet her. Tell her I sent you. Tell her it’s not her fault.

We mothers tend to blame ourselves, no matter our culture or worldview.

Arriving, we were greeted by a man whose face was etched with kindness and hard experience. He led us to a humble room adorned only by thin cushions arranged around a small open flame heater. His wife and four children stood and greeted us with shy smiles and curious glances. 

The father looked at me intently.

I know you. I feel as if I’ve met you before. You are familiar to me.

As we gathered round, we shared mutual stories of pain and perseverance, fear and patience. I turned to the mother.

I had a dream about you.

Bold love flashed through my heart as I took her face in my hands, something I’d never had the audacity to do in all my years.

The Messiah sent me to tell you it’s not your fault.

Her eyes widened in surprise for a nano-second before giving way to ripples of disbelief, hope, and relief. 

Everyone in the community blames her! They tell her now our daughter will never marry because of the scars! 

The man sat trembling, feeling his wife’s pain. Ready to defend her.

Then he gasped.

Now I know why you are familiar!

He next spun a tale so rarefied, so exquisite it suspended the air in the room and we stopped breathing for a moment.

One night after we escaped the bombs, I carried heavy sadness in my heart. I fell asleep with many worries. Then a man dressed in light came to me and placed his hand on my shoulder. When he did, I felt peace, comfort, and love flood my soul. I woke up and I knew he was still with me, so I began looking through the house to find him. I even woke my wife up to help me search. We could not find him anywhere.

When you walked in, you brought that peace again. You remind me of him.

His face filled with wistful longing as he looked back through time to that night.

I don’t know who that man was.

I forgot about the tea in my hand as I flung my hands out and shouted.

It was the Messiah!

We sat for a moment in sacred silence, soaking the holiness of a God so tender, so loving, that He would come Himself to comfort the brokenhearted. Theirs, and mine.

The God of all gods promises to appear before those walking through the valley of pain. He seeks out the wounded, the broken, the scared. He comes to them on their hardest day, their darkest night. 

If we are willing to write, to speak, to share while we are still in the valley, He will go with us. And to our great astonishment, we will find He has also gone ahead of us. 

The valley of pain becomes a deep well.

Lord, I am not ready yet. But if You go with me, I will write my way through this valley, I will speak to others about the pain, I will share with them Your faithfulness to me. Amen.

TWEETABLE

Audrey Frank is an author, speaker, and storyteller. The stories she shares are brave and true. They give voice to those whose words are silenced by shame, the hard things in life that don’t make sense, and the losses that leave us wondering if we will survive. Audrey and her family have spent over twenty years living and working among different cultures and world views, and she has found that God’s story of redemption spans every geography and culture. He is the God of Instead, giving honor instead of shame, gladness instead of mourning, hope instead of despair. Although she has three different degrees in communication and intercultural studies, Audrey’s greatest credential is that she is known and loved by the One who made her.

Audrey is the author of Covered Glory: The Face of Honor and Shame in the Muslim World (Harvest House Publishers), an outpouring of Audrey’s heart to introduce others to the God of Instead. Shame is not unique to the developing world, the plight of the women behind veils, young girls trafficked across borders; shame is lurking in hearts everywhere. Through powerful stories from women around the world, Covered Glory illuminates the power of the Gospel to remove shame, giving honor instead. Available at favorite booksellers: BARNES & NOBLE , BOOKS A MILLION, AMAZON.

5 comments:

  1. Wow! What a tale of God's promise to always be where we are.

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  2. What a powerful experience, and a beautiful re-telling. "The Lord of hosts is with us." --Psalm 46

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  3. Amen! God uses you, your writing, your prayers, and your faith to minister to so many! This is such an encouragement to follow His voice, wherever it leads. Praying for you, dear friend.

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  4. What a miraculous story, Audrey. Thank you for sharing this story of hope.

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  5. This was an inspiring and heart-wrenching story full of hope. Thanks for sharing it, Audrey!

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