You know why I like Amazon? Because it’s easy to get justice. You order something from them. It doesn’t come in just right, wrong size, different color, a little damaged, and you just send the thing back. Voila! Instant justice. They either send you a new thing or refund your money. No harm. No foul. All is right with the world. Doris ordered some Christmas pillows in September because apparently the 627 pillows we already have stuffed in the top of the closet would not suffice. Said Christmas pillows did not arrive. In fact, Christmas came and went (Who knew? We could go ahead with wonderful Yuletide festivities without NEW PILLOWS!), Christmas came and went without the pillows. In late December I emailed the Amazon Justice Bureau and within a couple of days, full refund. Amazing! Instant (well, 4 month) justice. And to beat the band, in early February the pillows arrived. I contacted the company. They said keep the wayward pillows. And, wow! I got pillows and I got money. God is good and justice has been served.
But what if it’s not? One of the hardest things to contend with in life is perceived INJUSTICE. I am passed over for that well-deserved promotion at work. I’m stopped for going 45 in a school zone when I know I was right at 44 and a ½. I am accused of betraying a friend when all I did was tell the truth. Injustice is hard to take. The unfairness of it, the powerlessness it creates. Hard to swallow. Frustrating. Bitter making. Injustice.
Some of the worst injustices are those that I surely had nothing to do with. Maybe I could have worked a little harder at the office. I actually should have been going 15 in the school zone. Maybe I didn’t have to tell all I know, even if it is the truth. Many of the things we call injustices are really a consequence of our own actions. But those things that are beyond our scope, outside our reach, they are maddening. A son gets terribly lost and turns his back on us. COVID strikes my house, takes my spouse, and passes over my neighbors. My husband decides he wants a newer model and the years I have given go up in smoke. Those kinds of catastrophic injustices are almost beyond our ability to cope. There is no magic Amazon email to fix that. No truck will pull up in a couple of days and make everything all right. How do we handle injustice?
Well, I don’t know. But I have two words that might help. Perspective and permission.
The Isaiah passage that we read today is the ultimate injustice. Let me quote part of it here.
He was oppressed and treated harshly,
yet he never said a word.
He was led like a lamb to the slaughter.
And as a sheep is silent before the shearers,
he did not open his mouth.
8 Unjustly condemned,
he was led away.[a]
No one cared that he died without descendants,
that his life was cut short in midstream.[b]
But he was struck down
for the rebellion of my people.
9 He had done no wrong
and had never deceived anyone.
But he was buried like a criminal;
he was put in a rich man’s grave. Isaiah 53:7-9
Okay, I quoted it all, but it is such a powerful story of injustice. And to put the whole thing into perspective, this was the perfect, innocent, life-giving Son of God. Even those hurts and betrayals in my life that I had nothing to do with, well, there were other things that I got by with. My dad used to spank the girls and then he’d spank me just for good measure. I’d say, “Why me? Chonda deserves it. She’s the one that kept laughing in church. I didn’t do anything.” Dad would say, “This is for all the things you did that I missed.” He had a point there. I have done enough wrong and messed up enough times in my life that almost any negative event can be put on the scales and it balances out. Or, at the very least, we just live in a fallen and broken world. Perhaps you didn’t deserve this terrible pain, but much of the difficulty of life was set in motion with the bite of an apple, long before we were around.
But Jesus, well, He was absolutely and completely without sin. He was there when we were spoken into existence. He breathed life into our lungs. And in fact, Paul says, “He holds all things together.” (Colossians 1:17) But He was “unjustly condemned and led away.” When I think of His suffering, especially as I dwell on it during this Lenten season, and the injustice of that, it seems to put my paltry pain into perspective. It doesn’t hurt less. That doesn’t make my sorrow go away. I don’t just shake it off in the Name of Jesus and act as if it never happened. But I do recognize that I have a Savior who has endured a far worse injustice than I could ever imagine. “For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but He was tempted in all points like we are, yet was without sin.” (Hebrews 4:15) I would add to the word TEMPTED, tormented, tested, tried, wounded, betrayed, you make up a word. “He was wounded for our transgressions,” we read yesterday. It just changes my perspective.
And it gives me permission. Because He has endured injustice, it gives me permission to cry on His shoulder, to take my grievances to Him, to sit at His feet and just gripe a little bit. My pastor years ago would say, “It is okay to ask God why as long as we hold Him close while we do it.” The writer of Hebrews goes on to say in 4:16, “Let us then (because He suffered such injustice) approach the throne of grace with confidence to find mercy, and grace to help us in our time of need.” We used to sing an old song, “Are you weary and heavy-hearted? Tell it to Jesus. Tell it to Jesus. Are you grieving over joys departed? Tell it to Jesus.”
Again, it doesn’t make all of the pain go away, but it is such a help to know I have permission to take my sorrow and sadness to the One who is “acquainted with suffering.” And who has the ability to “work all things together for good.” (Romans 8:28)
So…feeling some injustice in your life? Hold it up against what Christ endured for us. Then take it to Him and find His comfort. And, if this will help, I’ve got some Christmas pillows I could share with you.
Love you. See you tomorrow
Read today: Psalm 56, Proverbs 26, Isaiah 53:7-9