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Do you feel broken by recent events? I hear you. It’s hard to live in the here and now when here is untenable and now is rife with violence, greed and anger. Perspective helps, so let’s go back to the Sermon on the Mount. You know what Jesus said: “Blessed are the peacemakers, blessed are those who hunger and thirst for justice,” etcetera. Notice what he didn’t say? “…for they will inherit the earth — in twenty minutes!” Nope. All of those rewards Jesus talks about? Those are things that will happen in heaven, in the hereafter — “next life” stuff.

So how do you make it through this life when real justice will only occur in the next? Think long-term. Even the king of the fruit flies only lives 24 hours. Sure, he can buzz as loud as he likes, even assemble a fruit fly army…in the end, he is a nothing in a sea of nothingness. He is a grain of sand. He is a mote, a distraction, a flicker, an afterthought. This life is brief. The next life is eternal. Why waste time on negativity, selfishness or anger when there is so much joy to look forward to?

I’m not asking you to ignore life or to ignore the inequalities and injustice that surround us. Just the opposite. Keep working on it. Don’t give up because of “this world” distractions. Those are just fruit flies. Swat them away. Keep plugging away at justice, mercy, love and hope. Because that’s what will matter in the next life. And next life stuff is awesome. I want to be there for it. Don’t you?

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A couple of years ago, my mother fought and survived cancer. A few weeks ago, her doctor discovered a new mass. He verified it. He scheduled her for a biopsy. The day of the biopsy arrived, and a final scan was taken before surgery. Only now, there was no mass. Nothing, nada. “Um, maybe it was a cyst that dissolved due to hormones,” the doctor offered. My mother doesn’t take hormones. That can’t be the reason. So what is?

A friend of mine recently posted something on Facebook: pictures of hopeful people with captions that read, “God, please help me pass this test,” and “God, let my team win.” The last image was of a starving child in Africa with no caption underneath. Obviously, the post was supposed to illustrate the futility of prayer and/or the nonexistence of a loving God.

I get it. I can’t explain why a loving God would allow children to die of starvation. But I can reason that quite a number of the world’s problems rest with our own human free will. We could feed the hungry if we really wanted to; heaven knows, we have plenty enough. But we don’t, for a number of reasons ranging from practicalities in shipping and distribution to lack of funding to volatile politics in affected regions. However, as to the question of why God would “allow” human tragedies to occur: No, I have no explanation.

I hope to understand these things someday. Maybe in the afterlife I’ll figure it out. For now, I am willing to confess my lack of full comprehension yet still believe in God with all my heart. There are a million reasons for this. The latest one? What happened to my mother was a miracle. The doctor couldn’t explain it. And neither can anyone else.

Ruth once wrote, “Miracles accrue one prayer at a time.” I believe this. Even if the world doesn’t always back me up.

Have a Mary Little Christmas

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