Facing Chaos is a series of nine articles about what I have learned over the years about dealing with the chaos, pain, and darkness that at times seems to overtake our lives.
It was a challenging week. My wife and I accompanied a friend to court, quite certain that justice would prevail, and while it would not heal their pain, it may have helped them feel a sense of closure. I was baffled when we heard the judge’s verdict, acquitting someone who was guilty of terrible crimes. This verse from Isaiah came to mind and it appeared as if I was watching it play out right in front of me.
Isaiah 59:14-15: “Our courts oppose the righteous, and justice is nowhere to be found. Truth stumbles in the streets, and honesty has been outlawed. Yes, truth is gone, and anyone who renounces evil is attacked. The Lord looked and was displeased to find there was no justice.”
So what do we do when the truth is trampled and when justice is denied?
The first thing we do as followers of Jesus is to lament. We bring these painful experiences before the Lord, and we express to him whatever is going on in our heart. No matter how depressing or angry we are, we can bring our troubles before the Lord. Check out Psalm 88 and Psalm 137 for a couple of examples of some pretty dark prayers to God.
While it feels like chaos wins in the aftermath of such injustice, there are severals truths that I know to be a comfort when in these situations.
- We are told to act justly, and to seek justice, but no individual is expected to achieve it alone.
Micah 6:8 says, “He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”
You will notice that while it tells us to act justly, it does not require us to achieve justice on our own. Now the Lord certainly desires that justice will be achieved, but this was never something that any one individual can accomplish on their own. If you live in a society with a certain amount of corruption, achieving justice in every instance may be impossible. We can, however, fight against injustice by not perpetuating it in our own lives.
We can also seek justice on behalf of others, as we are told to do in Isaiah 1, but there too we may not see those goals realized. We may find ourselves in a situation where we become like the faithful remnant of Israel. While those around us may choose to follow dark paths, we can stand against darkness by choosing God’s path in our own lives.
- Remember that God will make all things right in the end.
When we face unspeakable sorrow, we can draw comfort from the vision of the future we receive in the Bible. In Revelation 21:4, we read, “He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever.”
Having this in mind gives us a profound hope for the future, and while it does not remove our pain in moments of injustice and tragedy, it does promise us that eventually God will remove our pain forever.
- Your integrity matters
1 Peter 2:12 says, “Be careful to live properly among your unbelieving neighbors. Then even if they accuse you of doing wrong, they will see your honorable behavior, and they will give honor to God when he judges the world.”
Living rightly, even in the face of false accusations, lies, and untruths, will bring glory to God in the end. I must admit that I wish this verse had a shorter time frame. I wish that it said, “They will see your honorable behavior, and they will give honor to God…in two weeks.” I think most of us can handle doing that for two weeks. But that is not what it says.
The Lord is asking us to do what is right in the face of what is wrong, even if we don’t see the fruit of this in our time here on earth. 1 Peter 3:9 says, “Don’t repay evil for evil. Don’t retaliate with insults when people insult you. Instead, pay them back with a blessing. That is what God has called you to do, and he will grant you his blessing.”
Yes, this is difficult business indeed. But the Lord asks it of us, and he promises to bless all those who live in this way, even if we will only receive that blessing in eternity.
- Keep working with whoever is also seeking to be faithful to God
Amos 5:24 says, “Instead, I want to see a mighty flood of justice, an endless river of righteous living.”
The amount of justice and righteousness that the Lord desires to see is not a mere trickle of a tap, but a flooding river. I’ve lived in Manitoba during a major flood, and that kind of picture is certainly a vivid one in my mind.
Instead of giving up when we face injustice, let us resolve to act justly in our own lives and to seek justice on behalf of others. As we join together with others, we join the stream of our lives with that of theirs, and what may begin as a trickle can grow into something more substantial.
For generations, no matter how much the nation of Israel rebelled against God, there was always a small group present that are often called “the remnant”. Had it not been for this remnant, there would have been nobody left to lead the people back to the Lord when the time came that the nation returned to God. We never know when our nation will recommit themselves to paths of righteousness.
Thus we have a choice. In the face of injustice we can give up and join the ranks of the unrighteous, or we can become part of the remnant, and stand ready, willing, and waiting to lead others back to the paths of God.
In doing this we stand as a beacon of light in the midst of the darkness and chaos. Furthermore, when we choose to stand on the side of God’s ways, we choose a side that we know will win in the end, even though we may lament and suffer for now—but don’t fret for it will be well worth it in the end.