Month: March 2020

What to do with Injustice?

I’ve been camped in the Psalms for the past couple of weeks, and I’m so thankful for the many points of wisdom and guidance God is providing as I spend time meditating. What have you been learning from His Word? I’d love to know. Comment below or send me an email.

 

As I’m reading through the 90’s in Psalms, I’m seeing a pattern of praising God for justice. Now, this is a difficult topic, which blends into the toughest of all faith questions, “why do bad things happen to good people” as well as its cousin, “why do good things happen to bad people,” so I tread lightly here as I offer my thoughts. I’m not a theologian, but I’d love to be one when I grow up.

 

Before we get into the Psalms, though, you should know something about me: I’m passionate about helping victims, helpless, hopeless, broken, outcasts, and the voiceless. I allow my heart to get broken often (maybe daily?) by circumstances surrounding these people, and I often cry out for God to just do something for them. One example of this is when I went to Haiti on medical mission in March of 2010, and I cried for days about a young man studying to be a pastor who was killed in the earthquake. I can’t believe it’s been a decade since that happened, but I remember it like it was yesterday. My only thought, though it felt irreverent was, “Lord, you let the wrong one die. Why couldn’t you have saved him and let one of the corrupt human traffickers be crushed? You really should have chosen better here.”

 

And haven’t we all been there?

 

Right now I’m feeling similar emotions as I watch the CDC tell the very doctors and nurses who are saving the lives of Covid-19 patients that BANDANNAS will have to do as PPE. Nurses are suffering huge waves anxiety, not wanting to bring the disease back to their homes, and EMT’s are dying, even as they fight. Doctors are unable to comfort loved ones with the usual hug when they have to deliver the worst of news, and these precious, priceless soldiers on the front lines of this battle are just getting thrown under the bus. My heart cries out for justice, and I’m uttering the familiar irreverent words: “You’re choosing wrong here, Lord!”

This graphic showed up in my newsfeed recently:

This grief longs to be comforted and replaced with joy. I turn to the only place I know that can do that, and that’s to my Bible. 

 

I’m not going to move in Scripture order here, but I have several verse sets to share that will lead us in a meandering path through my thoughts on this topic of rejoicing in the hope for justice. Won’t you come on this hike of faith and joy with me?

 

Let’s start with joy. One definition of worship might include praising God in gratitude for what he does or has done or will do, resulting in joy. Indeed for the believer, this is one of the greatest sources of our joy – not just temporary happiness, but lasting joy

 

“Let the fields and their crops burst out with joy!

    Let the trees of the forest sing for joy

before the Lord, for he is coming!

    He is coming to judge the earth.

He will judge the world with justice,

    and the nations with his truth.” – Psalm 96:12-13

 

One source of this worship-gratitude-joy (the original word for it in Greek is eucharisteo) is a two-fold concept that goes like this: God is sovereign, and He is coming inevitably to bring judgement, truth, and justice. The world often feels, seems, and is verily unfair. The crooked get wealthier, the cruel inherit power, the innocent suffer, the vulnerable get sick, the weak are exploited. Our inner morality cries out in pain and we are starved for justice. Our hearts are broken for the inequality and unfair scales that seem to rule our land. 

 

Our meager efforts seem like a drop in the ocean and the only hope is for a powerful and sovereign God to bring about truth, fairness, judgement on the guilty, vengeance for the victims, and equality for all people. 

 

 

“This I declare about the Lord:

He alone is my refuge, my place of safety;

    He is my God, and I trust him.

For he will rescue you from every trap

    and protect you from deadly disease.

Do not dread the disease that stalks in darkness,

    nor the disaster that strikes at midday.” – Psalm 91:2-3, 6

 

 

Is there a solution to this heartache, this longing for fairness and justice?

 

 

`  “O Lord, what great works you do!

    And how deep are your thoughts.

Though the wicked sprout like weeds

    and evildoers flourish,

    they will be destroyed forever.

Your enemies, Lord, will surely perish;

    all evildoers will be scattered.

My eyes have seen the downfall of my enemies;

    my ears have heard the defeat of my wicked opponents.” – Psalm 92:5, 7, 9, 11

 

 

One of the great works God does–one we delightfully worship in with eucharisteo–is His actions to destroy evildoers and the wicked forever. It’s a relief that we don’t hold that burden or responsibility. And even if there is not a fair distribution of justice right now, He WILL bring full justice in the end

 

 

Arise, O Judge of the earth.

    Give the proud what they deserve.

How long, O Lord?

    How long will the wicked be allowed to gloat? 

How long will they speak with arrogance?

    How long will these evil people boast?

They crush your people, Lord,

    hurting those you claim as your own.

They kill widows and foreigners

    and murder orphans.

He punishes the nations—won’t he also punish you?

    He knows everything—doesn’t he also know what you are doing?” – Psalm 94:2-6, 10

Judgment will again be founded on justice,

    and those with virtuous hearts will pursue it.” – Psalm 94:15

Tell all the nations, “The Lord reigns!”

    The world stands firm and cannot be shaken.

    He will judge all peoples fairly.” – Psalm 96:10

 

And the answer is YES! 

Isn’t God’s answer always yes, when we ask according to His word? He IS coming. He is coming to judge the earth and we tremble at the thought, for none of us is perfect. And in addition to the trembling, we rejoice (we have JOY), because our hope will be fulfilled. The demonic forces of evil will be vanquished, once and for all. The traffickers who sell children for sex will be punished severely. Every virus and silent killer and disease will be eradicated. Every corrupt leader who has dealt in self-serving will be made to repay.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Lord says, “I will rescue those who love me.

    I will protect those who trust in my name.

When they call on me, I will answer;

    I will be with them in trouble.

    I will rescue and honor them.

I will reward them with a long life

    and give them my salvation.” – Psalm 91:14-16

 

And these hearts of ours that crave truth and fairness will be satisfied and we rejoice in this hope.

 

“But the godly will flourish like palm trees

    and grow strong like the cedars of Lebanon.

For they are transplanted to the Lord’s own house.

    They flourish in the courts of our God.

Even in old age they will still produce fruit;

    they will remain vital and green.

They will declare, “The Lord is just!

    He is my rock!

    There is no evil in him!” – Psalm 92:12-15

 

The question that begs an answer, then, is this: who are these godly, and am I among them? What is it that separates the godly who rejoice at the coming of the Lord’s justice and the wicked who will be judged? 

 

Throughout the history of God’s people, we see that this division has been marked in two ways. For those who lived before Christ, the measurement was the Law, and whether one had learned and followed it. For those who, like us, live after Christ’s revolution of grace, the measurement is quite different: repentance.

 

  • Have I received the gift of repentance, and used it to recognize and turn away from the evil I’ve done? 
  • Have I confessed my evil, mistakes, wrongs, and sins, trading them in for the blood of Christ, which covers me?
  • Have I surrendered to the life-long cooperative process of becoming more and more righteous (the fancy word here is sanctification)? 
  • Have I allowed God to make me a new, holy person, defined first by Him who made me and last by Him who saved me?

 

And if you ask yourself those questions and the answer to all of them is YES, then you are among the godly, among the righteous. According to the new agreement of grace (the fancy word here is covenant), you are among those who rejoice and take gratitude-filled joy at the thought of God coming to judge with truth and justice. 

 

You get excited to know that your heart will one day no longer be broken because of inequality and unfairness and oppression of the innocent and disease that takes the good people. 

 

You worship God for many reasons, and one of those being that He will indeed come to earth to punish the evildoers who have not repented, send the wicked away who have refused conviction, and judge those who have caused harm to good people.

 

You feel relieved because you don’t have to be the judge, jury, or executioner.

 

You praise the Lord because He alone is the God of justice.

 

Want to donate to help get masks to health care workers? Click here to donate a dollar amount, or click here to donate actual PPE if you have it.

 

Want a song for comfort and joy about this very topic? Try this one by Natalie Grant (foot stomping and clapping encouraged).

 

What are you doing to hold onto joy and hope during this season? How are you reaching for justice? How are you helping those in need of mercy?

Angel at Trader Joe’s

Covid-19 Social Distancing Day 5

I called my mom yesterday to check in. We’ve been texting but I wanted to hear her voice and have a longer conversation because, well, everyone still needs her mom. Even when you’re 41. And maybe she needed me. But probably not as much. (Call your mom if she’s still on this earth, friends. That’s a message that will never be wrong. It’s the little things.)

She catches me up on her life – back a few days from a trip to Phoenix for some sun and some friends. And who would have known that the world would change while she was away? It was stressful to fly home because of the fear of germs, but she’s brave and was armed with alcohol wipes and essential oils, and most of the people were nice. The only ones who were not kind were those who looked at her wiping as if she was being ridiculous, but the waitress was sweet at the gate where she had some lunch and a glass of wine. “I like your style, Girl! I did already disinfect that table, honey, but you go ahead and wipe it down again. You do you, and I’ll be here when you’re finished.” That was comforting. But why? Why would it be COMFORTING just that someone waited patiently while she was wiping her table off in a public place? I do that all of the time when I go out – not just during a pandemic. But yes, that kind and patient waitress was comforting because she didn’t look at my mom like she was ridiculousIt’s the little things.
On the first leg of her flight her meditation had been feeling the “sphere of protection” and she had visions of swirls of the Holy Spirit around her in protection like a bubble or an egg as she tells me. She goes on and on to explain this to me, and of course I believe her. God is always with us, and I’m comforted. It’s the little things.
And as she’s trusting God, she’s also wiping everything down with her alcohol wipes. “Believing God for protection and ALSO doing my part.”  And the lady in the security line was so rude–hurrying people along, being harsh and impatient. “You can move up now. Go in that line. Move along, let’s go, let’s go!” Even though there weren’t THAT many people even in line.
(As she tells me about the rude TSA lady, the defensive hairs on the back of my neck are standing up and “I will cut you if you bully my mom” rises up in my mouth, but my mom can hold her own, with the Holy Spirit. She’s tiny but fierce, and don’t cross her.)
But my mom needed some extra time to wipe off the things she needed to touch and had touched, so she looked back at the lady in determination. Suddenly something over her shoulder swooshed and the lady stepped back in shock and was silenced. My mom kept moving at her own careful pace, surrounded in her Holy Spirit egg. It’s the little things.
And then she fills me in about how she’s coping with work. Or should I say with losing work. She’s a hairdresser and an artist and the governors just told hair salons (among other businesses) to close in order to prevent the spread of the disease. She knew it was coming, and logically sees that it is right. We’re trying to stop a plague, here, people. Some clients had already graciously cancelled, but every cancellation represents another bill that might go unpaid, so it’s stressful, even while logical. Unemployment insurance isn’t guaranteed for the self-employed, gig-worker, or contract worker. I get it, and I’m there too.
The cancellations pile up, followed by the bills and who isn’t counting
Though she knows it’s the right thing to do, it’s also hard, so she finishes her last day of seeing clients and some are NOT very gracious. One guy rolls his eyes when she wipes off his credit card. Another guy rants about how people are going too far and this is just going to blow over soon and she fights not to roll her own eyes behind his back while she’s snipping. (Be nice and watch what you say to your hairdresser, people. What’s to say they won’t stab you in the neck and hide your body in the tanning bed? Nothing.)
And at the end of that, she’s got to get the necessities from the store so she can hunker down, and she heads to Trader Joe’s. She’s picking up the things she needs, mindful that she can’t afford unlimited supplies and food, but she does need a good amount to last, and also mindful that cancelled hair appointments the day before mean less in the grocery budget. (Grocery shopping is my most stressful chore for this reason. We need enough, but is there enough money to pay for the enough food? Gives me anxiety just thinking about it.)
So, she’s paying at the register and I can picture her handing over the money. Money that’s gotta last because who knows when it’s coming again? And the guy at the register smiles and asks, “How are you today?” His smile is genuine. His words are not just a greeting. She ventures an honest answer. “Well, I’m not really doing very well.” And he stops. Looks at her. Sees her. There are people behind her, but he’s not concerned. He’s not rushed. She’s the only one he’s thinking about right now. “Oh no, why not?”
And my mom LOSES IT.
All that pent up anxiety and stress and trying to do her part to wipe everything and wash her hands and close the barber shop and get ready for social distancing comes spilling out of her eyes and spilling out of her mouth. To this complete stranger in the Trader Joe’s. He’s maybe 20 years old and he just listens to her kindly. Nothing more, nothing less. (I’m crying as she talks into the phone, brushing the tears away fast and straining to listen over my sniveling.)
She probably got her change and thanked him quickly for listening before driving her cart to the car to load, and she may not see him again soon, or ever.
She thinks he was an angel. For caring enough to ask, and listening enough to care. I’m slowing down here, and you should too.
S l o w    y o u r    e y e s    t o   r e a d     t h i s    c a r e f u l l y. 
It’s the little things, my friends. You are the angel someone needs today. 
When this is over, we’re going to know things we didn’t know before. Living through a pandemic is going to teach us things we didn’t understand before. They seem like little things, but they are HUGE:
Patience is kind.
Clear communication is a gift.
Cleaning up before and after yourself is an act of goodness for the health of others.
Meditation breeds sanity.
Tolerance is loving.
Smiles are like medicine.
Seeing someone, really seeing them is valuing them.
Asking if people are okay, and caring what they say is meaningful.
And listening is honoring. A true treasure, given in a time of need. We all need to be heard.
When this is over, we are going to know how to slow down, how to step out of the traffic and truly care for others. When this is over a hug from a friend is really going to mean something special, and a handshake is really going to be a gift. A kiss on the cheek is really going to be a treasure. And caring about others is really going to be a priority. 
It’s the little things, my Friend. The little things.

Drop a comment: what little things are you feeling, seeing, learning in all of this?