Hope for the Oppressed
This is Day 10 of 31 Days of Hope-filled Living. To start over with Day 1, click here.
God remembers those in need. Though they might feel disappointed today, their hopes will one day come to reality.– Psalm 9:18
Yahweh, you have heard the desires of the humble and seen their hopes. You will hear their cries and encourage their hearts. GOD, you’ve taken notice of these small, hopeful people. Even when they cry out in need, you’ll hear them and answer.– Psalm 10:17
There is hope for the oppressed and needy
The mere idea that the Maker of the Stars would listen to the cries of the needy is humbling. Twice in one verse, the Psalmist repeats that God hears the desires and hopes and needy cries, and that He will answer. This was a big deal in Bible times, just as it is today.
The Hebrew word for “oppressed” in Psalm 10:17 is the word anav, which means poor, afflicted, humble, meek. In the Bible, we see God labeling these people together with the oppressed: widows, orphans, poor & needy, heavy-burdened, strangers/foreigners/immigrants, prisoners, sick/afflicted, weak, destitute/homeless, and victims of violence. God saw, heard, and listened to the cries of these people. He was not unmoved.
Today we see the same kinds of oppression and the people who suffer it all around us. God hears their cries and He is moved to compassion with action for justice. We see it in every ally who stands up to defend the oppressed, bring justice to the defenseless, and provide generously for the needy. We see God working through people who care for one another. He is not unmoved.
But it does get hard sometimes, doesn’t it? Hopelessness sets in as we see an endless stream of oppression in every direction, if we open our eyes and hearts. Ecclesiastes 7:7 says, “Surely oppression drives the wise into madness,” and who among us isn’t mad from the oppression piled high as the sky, like bodies piled next to redwoods.
I read recently that the proliferation of men who abuse women has made an entire society numb to this violence. We don’t even see the oppression. We don’t hear the cries of the oppressed.
“For women and men involved in the battered women’s or rape crisis movements, especially those who deal daily with victims, convincing people—especially men—of the urgency of the situation may appear to belabor the obvious. Doesn’t everyone already realize how big a problem this is? Don’t they know there are survivors in their own families? Well, not necessarily. A lot of people cannot face the ugly reality—or don’t want to. It is important to remember that coming to terms with the extent of the problem can be disorienting, and profoundly disruptive. As a man, once you are aware of the degree to which women suffer from gender violence and all forms of sexism, you can’t simply go about your business and pretend everything is fine. You have to do something about it, or else risk losing your self-respect. This is where denial comes in. Denial is a tried and true method of coping with disruptive, traumatic, or discomforting information; it is much less painful than facing the truth. Not to mention that many Americans are so desensitized by repeated exposure to violence of all kinds—in their own lives, on the news, and in the popular culture—that denial isn’t even necessary.”– Jackson Katz in The Macho Paradox
And so maybe we’ve felt the madness as wise people who are surrounded by oppression in a culture of fools who deny and are desensitized to it. Maybe it’s gotten painfully maddening to look at the women around us who are brutalized, or the homeless that line the streets in tents, or the orphans on the streets longing for someone to accept them for who they’ve chosen to be. Maybe we’ve lost some hope that God even hears our own cries of suffering above the cacophony of the oppressed.
Let me be the one to remind you today, Beloved Friend—God is here and He is listening. This verse is true, I know it. I see Him rescuing the orphan today as my husband shows me the photos and tells me to pick one to sponsor. I hear him comforting the cries of the battered sister as she is set free from her abuser. I see Him providing freedom to the sex slave through organizations and restoration homes around the world. I hear Him sending ambassadors like me into prisons to give encouragement and love to men and women behind bars. And I feel Him listening to my prayers and answering them over and over on behalf of the oppressed.
I am not forgotten. You are not forgotten. She is not forgotten. Remember that God sent a messenger through space and time to tell you about His love, and because you are reading these words, He reminds you to hold onto hope today. To hold onto the One who holds you, for He hears you.
Hope How-to: I know it’s hard to keep your faith when oppression prevails all around you. It gets tempting to believe that maybe God doesn’t really care. The times when I face this most is when I’m disengaged from participating in fighting for justice for the oppressed, when I’ve failed to help or give or speak. The truth is, God works most often THROUGH His kids and His Church and through people who care enough to take action. Why? I think it’s because He wants us to have the joy of bringing justice with Him. He wants to share the happiness that comes with generosity. Today, reflect on one or more things you can do to cooperate with God on behalf of serving the oppressed in your community. Can you donate time or money to a battered women’s shelter? Can you sponsor rescue for sex slaves? Can you sponsor food, clothing, and schooling for the poor? And the next time you’re feeling like you’re the oppressed one, remember how much God cared for the ones He allowed you to help. He loves you. He hears you. He listens to your cries.
Prayer: Oh, God. We are overwhelmed, and even sometimes numb to the oppression we witness and experience. I pray for my reader, Lord, and ask that you would speak to her heart in Your unfailing lovingkindness. Remind her that You are not only the Maker of the Stars, but a God who listens and cares. You hear her cries and you send compassion and help through her to others and through others to her. Remind us all of the hope we have in You and in Your justice. Even if we don’t see Justice now, we know there will come a day for it. Help us to trust You and recognize your work in our world. Show us how to not only pray for Your will on earth as it is in Heaven, but to cooperate with You in the ways we can make it come to be. Amen
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Wishing you joy and hope from my Nest,