God says, all throughout scripture, that He fights for justice. Vengeance is mine He says. Trust in me and fight hard He says.

Somehow, even though I know it’s going to be a hard fight, I’m still not always prepared for just how hard the battle is. I assume, if God will fight for us, with us, alongside us, surely it can’t be TOO hard.

How silly and wrong I am.

If God loves the orphan and the widow, why on earth is it so hard to fight for them?

For the past three years, I’ve been working with survivors of trafficking in the Philippines. I can’t really articulate how hard the battle is. The fairly constant physical, spiritual and emotional drain that occurs when you are fighting a seemingly endless battle is next to impossible to describe.

Because you aren’t just fighting “traffickers” (whoever they may be…) You are fighting the whole system. Governments that aren’t always able to uphold laws. The lawyers and judges that have so many cases on their schedule that they don’t have time to hear your case. The families who are so poor and desolate that they are willing to turn a blind eye to abuse that is happening.

And then there are those that are supposed to be fighting with you, the ones who say “Yes! Let’s battle this together!” But for whatever reason they fall off, they can’t take the pressure or their family gets sick or some other terrible life situation gets in the way, and they walk away. Or worse yet, they start working for the other team. The team you are fighting against.

And then sometimes there are the girls. The girls who have been so abused, not only by the traffickers, but usually by their own families too. So abused that they don’t really know what it means to love or that it’s possible to trust. They’ve learned how to fight in order to survive and so they do what they know how to do, even if that means fighting the ones who are trying to love them.

The work is hard. Every step of the way it’s hard.

If it wasn’t hard, breathtakingly-beyond-imagination challenging, maybe I would think it was me making a difference. Maybe I would think I was some kind of miracle worker, in my own strength. That somehow lives were being changed because of me.

I absolutely cannot take any credit. Because in the midst of the unimaginable-treacherous-painful battle, I’ve seen miracles happen. Miracles that only God could have done. Miracles that I had absolutely nothing to do with.

Like the girls, two separate girls, on two separate occasions, who were rescued by law enforcement and brought to My Refuge House. And these two girls, on two different days said to our Social Worker, “I prayed the night before I was rescued that God would find a way to get me out of there. And He did.”

Or the time when we were 2/3 finished with our building, but almost entirely out of money. I was literally rehearsing my speech to the construction crew to send them home. Preparing my speech to our partners who were depending on us to open so they would have a place to care for the girls they helped rescue. To tell them: “I’m sorry, we won’t be able to open our doors after all.” And miraculously, 10’s of thousands of dollars came in, a week before we ran out of money completely.

Or the times when staff have left and we wonder how in the world we will make it without them. And just when we think we will never fill the spot, God sends us someone who loves deeply and is willing to strive and fight for hope and freedom.

Maybe, just maybe God wants all the credit for the work, all the victories and lives changed to be attributed to him.

Maybe the work is so hard, because God wants to do miracles.