Have you ever been on the receiving end of mistreatment or witnessed someone else being victimized? Mistreatment, whether directly received or observed, precipitates a mix of emotions that weigh heavily on our souls. I would surmise that these emotions are not feelings of love, acceptance, belonging. Perhaps the experience left you feeling inundated by fear, uncertainty, anger, anxiety or hopelessness. If so, you are not alone.
We are living in a time where bullying, oppression, and discourtesy often reign unchecked. Half-truths, misrepresentation, selfishness, and self-centeredness appear to be the relational currency of our day. What are we to do? We could remain silent. We could ignore it. We could hide. Or, we could just keep our heads down and try to escape from the environment. But are these really the best plan of action for us?
One of the things that I have learned over the course of my personal and professional life is that injustice wreaks havoc in the lives of people — regardless of their age, ethnicity, religion, culture or class standing. Our wisdom saying for this week, Proverbs 22:22-23, provides counsel, as well as perspective about oppression.
Don’t rob the poor just because you can,
or exploit the needy in court.
For the Lord is their defender.
He will ruin anyone who ruins them.
–Proverbs 22:22–23 (NLT)
The guidance being offered to us shows that God sees, knows, and will act. In the midst of our most difficult experiences, or when we find ourselves on the receiving end of injustice, we all desire the intervention of a champion. For some individuals reading this, it may be disappointing to learn that God has observed their hardships and did not act quickly. Yet, I would encourage all to explore the precious promise in verse 23. It may appear that the perpetrators of injustice go unpunished until we take a closer look. God defends. God vindicates. God restores! I have personally experienced the healing, transforming power of God despite cruelty, unkindness and pain that I’ve experienced in my lifetime. If I am going to be even more transparent, I will say that the very occurrences that had me in tears and despair have ultimately helped me to become the person I am today. These lived experiences have both exposed and mobilized me to become an advocate against injustice.
In advocating against injustice, we must first be responsible that we are doing our part by not being the perpetrator of pain in the lives of others? Our responsibilities as employees of Loma Linda University Health go beyond that and include speaking up for the oppressed, defending those who are being bullied, and caring for the broken and hurting among us. As we continue to explore ways to live and lead others through the provision of healthcare, I pray we will each take to heart the admonition to be kind and trust God to defend us. Let us commit — employees and students alike — to make every effort to resist taking advantage of others, as well as advocating justice for the oppressed.
—Dilys Brooks, MDiv, is campus chaplain for Loma Linda University.