One can’t help feeling moved by the plight of the three women in Cleveland who were kidnapped and held captive for years and the young girl who was born during the ordeal. Despite the horror of their circumstances, the relief that they are now free has washed over them and their families – and all who were engaged in the search.
After the initial rejoicing, however, questions have arisen about whether the police should have been more proactive, neighbors could have been more observant, and so on. No doubt there will be soul-searching on many fronts and possibly changes in police procedures, if they are needed. Also, there have been predictions that the women will need a long time to recover from their experiences.
All these are reasons for prayer to support a good and just outcome for all parties involved. For my prayers about the women, I’ve found two helpful accounts in the Bible. One is about three Hebrew men, who were condemned to death in a burning fiery furnace but were saved through God’s power (see Daniel 3:8-28). When they were taken out of the furnace, not even the smell of smoke lingered on them.
My prayer is that these women, having been rescued from their own tragic circumstances, will feel God’s care, will be purified by the love of family and friends, and will be blessed as they go forward.
The other biblical account is of Job, a good man who lost his children, his health, and all he valued. For him it was a spiritual journey in which he recovered all that he lost and gained even more. It is my hope and prayer that the women’s memory of their experiences shall be what the book of Job says of those who act wickedly, that these horrors “shall fly away as a dream, and shall not be found” (Job 20:8).
This is not to say that the individuals who were involved in the women’s imprisonment should escape the rightful consequences to their actions, but the women don’t need to be burdened mentally or physically by these events. Nor do they need to become victims of a media circus or pawns in the exploration of what some observers believe could have been done better by law enforcement.
Those who worked on the case, the neighbors, and others who are involved in some way, may have lessons to learn from it, but at the same time it’s possible to extend mercy and grace toward them for the good that they were able to accomplish. Then, instead of an atmosphere of fear and condemnation, there will be an environment in which truth can emerge and genuine progress be made.
For all those involved at whatever level, the most powerful savior, restorer, and judge is Christ, the spiritual idea of God, which Jesus represented during his ministry on earth. Christ comes to bless, to heal, and to redeem. Mary Baker Eddy, in “Miscellaneous Writings 1883-1896,” speaks of this idea when she writes, “May the great Shepherd that ‘tempers the wind to the shorn lamb,’ and binds up the wounds of bleeding hearts, just comfort, encourage, and bless all who mourn” (p. 275).
Whether it’s those who mourn for the family members who didn’t live to see the women again or for the suffering and lost years while they were in captivity, the “great Shepherd” will bind up “the wounds, ... comfort, encourage, and bless.” This is my prayer.