These are not easy days in our nation—and beyond. The onslaught of violence is hard to comprehend, and we cry out to the Lord. We want to find the balance between trust in God’s providence while at the same time acting for justice in the world. Neither passivity nor sheer activism will suffice. We pray for courage and faithfulness even while reeling from episodic viciousness that only lightly prizes life.
Two lectionary texts for this coming Sunday offer constructive guidance. Psalm 107 recounts the varied hardships of wilderness wandering, with the concomitant hunger and thirst. Near fainting, the people cast themselves upon God.
Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, and God delivered them
from their distress; God led them by a straight way, until they reached an
inhabited town (vv. 6-7).
Their willingness to continue on, persevering against harsh realities, ensured the continuity of the people of covenant. And God did not abandon them.
The Epistle to the Colossians also reassures beleaguered believers, beckoning them not to focus solely on the present with its urgent disputes, but to remember their identity in Christ. The author exhorts:
Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth, for
you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God (3:2-3).
The language is striking. God gathers believers into the security Christ enjoys in God’s safekeeping.
In times when violence convulses our world, I reflect on our friends in Myanmar who have managed a faithful balance amidst the conflict in their land. They pray with great fervor and trust; they also find ways to work for greater liberty and justice as a religious minority. They know that their security is ultimately in God’s hands even though many suffer as they balance their faith and prophetic action.
We can learn from them. If persons of faith do not protest this current wave of atrocities and xenophobic rhetoric, we have lost our moral compass. Even if it causes us to be vulnerable, we must speak and act for those whose voices are discounted.
Molly T. Marshall
Central prepares creative leaders to speak and act for justice.