Written by Danielle Wong
“The more I learn, the more I break.”
I wrote these words in my journal, praying to the Lord after an emotionally hard week at my internship. I had just finished working on an assignment, spending time delving into some difficult topics for a potential lawsuit. The information I learned and sorted through made my heart hurt for the survivors. The more I learned, the more my spirit wept, the more my heart broke.
This summer, I held the privilege and opportunity to work with the National Center on Sexual Exploitation (“NCOSE”). NCOSE seeks to stop sexual exploitation in all its forms, both in the United States and internationally. I helped the legal team by accomplishing legal research, writing memos, and assisting in a host of other tasks. The legal team exhibited such passion for their work, and I could tell they cared about their clients and cared about enacting justice through the court system.
NCOSE deals with difficult topics; sexual exploitation is not a subject you would normally bring up at a dinner conversation. The topics caused me to question a lot this summer, but through my questions, I learned more about the heart of God. I cannot share what I worked on this summer (for confidentiality purposes), but what I can share is how the Lord refined my understanding of His heart and His calling for my life.
When you hear stories about children or adult survivors of sexual exploitation and then hear how many times justice on earth never comes, it is enough to send your thoughts spiraling. Is God a protector? Does He even care? What does justice even mean? I was angry a lot this summer. Angry at the world, at a broken legal system, and at myself for not being able to protect people in the way I thought I should. I felt helpless in the face of the stories I heard. I ran to the Lord a lot, journaling until 1 a.m. in the morning sometimes, often questioning Him on His care and the lack of care that I perceived on His end.
He answered my questions during a worship night in a way I didn’t expect. I didn’t feel like worshiping that night, didn’t feel like praising a God whose goodness I was questioning. Yet, I sang anyway, a part of me begging God to remind me of truth because everything seemed so clouded. It happened in an instant. I felt a deep depth of love toward me in a way I cannot explain.
Then, He spoke. “Do you feel that love right now? That is only a taste of the affection I have toward you. If I were to allow you to feel all that I feel toward you, it would overwhelm you. That feeling is merely a taste of the affection I hold toward all of my children. I love them so much. You think I do not see, and I do not care. But, I see. I love them more than you could ever possibly love them. I see them, and I protect them, for I am their protector.”
The Lord did not speak to me that night about justice. He did not answer the questions of why He allows suffering in the world, but He did share a small piece of His heart. He reminded me how He is good, how He cares, and how He is still protecting, even if it may not look the way I think it should.
I cannot answer why sexual exploitation occurs. I am still wrestling with understanding the goodness of God in the face of horrific stories. However, I trust that God is good, in ways I cannot fully comprehend. I am not the ultimate protector. He is, and I can rest in that truth.
His words gave me the strength I needed to continue working, to continue pressing forward in my internship. Did my heart stop breaking? No. Yet, I would not change that. What I felt was merely a reflection of how the Lord feels about His creation. He fashioned and molded each individual person and loves them in a way I could never understand. When my heart breaks over the suffering of those whom I do not know, it is only a small taste of how the Lord’s heart breaks for those He loves and knows deeply and intimately.
Each memo I wrote, each case I researched, stood as bastions of justice in my mind. The Lord was allowing me to partner with Him to play a small part in helping bring about justice in the world. I could not have asked for a more fulfilling summer. Was it hard? Yes. Yet, it was worth every tear and every stressful moment. NCOSE gave me an opportunity to help them find justice for survivors, and for that, I am grateful.
I started my law school career intent on not pursuing a career in litigation. I hate public speaking, and the idea of speaking in front of a judge terrified me. However, my first year at law school began stirring a curiosity within me, an inclination to take a deeper look at civil litigation as a means of finding justice for sexually exploited survivors. After watching the lawyers at NCOSE and working on assignments for them, I felt a sense of belonging, like this was the type of career I needed to pursue. I am not sure what it all means yet, but I know my Lord will guide me.
I am thankful for the opportunity that NCOSE provided me and look forward to seeing what cases they win in the future. Because of NCOSE, I am entering my 2L year more confident in my legal skills and ready to continue learning so one day I can be an attorney fighting for the rights of others in the courtroom.
This post was written by a Center for Global Justice intern. The views expressed in this post do not necessarily reflect those of Regent University, Regent Law School, or the Center for Global Justice.