Christianity: addressing suffering and injustice

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“Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves; ensure justice for those being crushed. Yes, speak up for the poor and helpless, and see that they get justice.” Proverbs 31:8-9 NLT

Suffering, destitution, injustice and human rights violations surround us every single day, from: poverty and homelessness; to sickness and disease; to modern day slavery and human trafficking; to the exploitation of poor labourers; to defenceless refugees fleeing war torn countries. These crises lead so many to question and reject the God that Christians love and serve. “Christians claim to serve a God of love and justice. So where is He when the vulnerable in our society are being abused and exploited?” “If God is love, hope, joy and peace – why is the world filled with so much hopelessness, desperation and mourning?” Ultimately, what people are asking is “If the God who created the world is so good, why is the world so bad?” I certainly can understand why an atheist may hold onto these statements, to explain their disbelief in God and their rejection of Christianity. But all of these questions are far from the truth. In fact, God hates to see us suffering, God loves justice and He wants more than anything to: bring freedom to those in slavery; to bring provision to those in poverty, to the homeless and to those in need; to bring healing to the sick; and ultimately to bring justice, provision and protection for those who cannot defend themselves.

So this is a blog post for those of you who wonder how such a supposedly good God could exist in the midst of so much injustice and heartache. This blog post is also for those of you who are Christian, yet wonder what your role is in the fight against injustice and suffering. I pray this blog post helps us all to understand the heart of our God and to understand our full purpose as Christians.

Why does God allow evil? The sovereignty of God and the authority of Satan

Even though God is sovereign in nature, God does not force His divine, perfect and good will into this world. God from the beginning of time gave humans free will to choose good or evil. This is the reason why the world doesn’t mirror the good character and nature of God. When God created Adam and Eve, He gave them dominion over the world. However, when Adam and Eve sinned against God, Adam and Eve allowed evil and the authority of Satan into this world. So, Satan began to reign in this world because of the fall of man. This is the reason for all of the evil and darkness in this world.

Then, when Jesus died on the cross for our sins and rose again, He conquered: sin; death; and conquered Satan’s power and reign. This means that for those who place their faith in Jesus, they are: free from the power of Satan; can walk in goodness and purity; and can exercise God’s will and authority. Yet, Satan is still the prince of this world (John 14:30, 2 Corinthians 4:4), until Jesus returns.

God, from the beginning of time, restricted Himself to working through humans. This is due to God giving us free will and never imposing Himself on us. Therefore God in the Old Testament would search and wait for somebody to choose Him and to submit to Him, so that He could use that willing vessel to exercise His goodness in this world. Moses, submitting to the call of God and leading the Israelites out of their slavery and captivity in Egypt, is a perfect example of this. This is why in Isaiah 6:8 it says; ‘Then I heard the Lord asking, “Whom should I send as a messenger to this people? Who will go for us?” I said, “Here I am. Send me.”’, As God had to wait for someone to want to be sent out to do His will, and at that point God’s spirit would come upon that willing person, so that they could be used for His glory.

So the question is not whether or not God is just. The question is, will you rise up and act? Will you submit to God’s will and purpose for your life? Will YOU become a vessel for God’s justice, love, goodness, grace and mercy?

For a deeper insight into how much authority Satan has in this world, please read: https://www.desiringgod.org/interviews/how-much-authority-does-satan-have-in-the-world

For a deeper insight into why God allows evil, if He is such a good God, please read: https://www.gotquestions.org/God-allow-evil.html

God is a God of justice:

When we read the stories of the Bible, particularly the Old Testament, there is a consistent theme of deliverance from slavery and emancipation, all because of God’s will, carried out because of His instructions, and for His glory. The book of Esther is often referred to, to teach about the power of corporate faith and fasting; and to teach about the importance of obeying God’s instructions on time. Yet, we also see that Esther was used to save the Jews from impending mass execution. Esther risked her life by approaching the king with her request to deliver the Jews, in an attempt to save her people. Therefore God used Esther to also teach the power we have to bring justice and freedom to those around us, when we: submit to Him; obey His instructions; and allow ourselves to be used by Him.

Even when you look at the life of Jesus, Jesus did not just spread the Gospel and go back home. Jesus spread the Gospel whilst simultaneously: healing the sick; feeding the poor; casting out demons; and rebuking those who spread the Gospel yet refused to advocate for justice and spread the love of God (Luke 11:42).

In Matthew 25:35-40 NLT, Jesus even states: ’35 For I was hungry, and you fed me. I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home. 36 I was naked, and you gave me clothing. I was sick, and you cared for me. I was in prison, and you visited me.’ 37 “Then these righteous ones will reply, ‘Lord, when did we ever see you hungry and feed you? Or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 Or a stranger and show you hospitality? Or naked and give you clothing? 39 When did we ever see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ 40 “And the King will say, ‘I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!’

This, is the instruction of God to Christians!

We are called to do more than spread the Gospel!

The spreading of the Gospel in order to see the world submit to the Lord and declare Jesus is their Lord and Savior, is the most important mandate for Christians. Yet, children of God, the truth is, we are called to do more than just spread the Gospel. We are called to spread the Gospel AND to provide for those in need AND to fight for justice.

Isaiah 61 is a powerful chapter in the Bible regarding God’s love for bringing justice and provision. Isaiah 61:1-4 NLT states: ‘1 The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is upon me, for the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to comfort the brokenhearted and to proclaim that captives will be released and prisoners will be freed. 2 He has sent me to tell those who mourn that the time of the Lord’s favor has come, and with it, the day of God’s anger against their enemies. 3 To all who mourn in Israel, he will give a crown of beauty for ashes, a joyous blessing instead of mourning, festive praise instead of despair. In their righteousness, they will be like great oaks that the Lord has planted for his own glory. 4 They will rebuild the ancient ruins, repairing cities destroyed long ago. They will revive them, though they have been deserted for many generations.’

Here we see we are not just called to spread the Good News. The instructions given in Isaiah 61 also show us that, in the context of the issues surrounding us in the 21st century, we are also called to: bring counselling and emotional support to the brokenhearted; to bring freedom and emancipation to those in: modern day slavery, human trafficking, war-torn countries and in oppressive regimes; to provide for the homeless; and to restore and rebuild the countries, homes and lives of those in poverty.

Even Isaiah 58 talks about the difference between real and fake fasting. Stating in Isaiah 58: 6-7 NLT: 6 “Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke? 7 Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter – when you see the naked, to clothe them, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?”

Christians, we cannot just give people the Gospel, but we must show them the character of Jesus and meet their needs! James 2:14-15 talks about the uselessness of telling a homeless person to ‘go in peace, keep warm, stay well fed’ but giving them no provision. Whilst Galatians 2:9-10 further emphasises ensuring you remember the poor, alongside spreading the Gospel.

Christine Caine is a woman of God that I honour so much. She is a wonderful example of powerfully spreading the Gospel, yet simultaneously fighting for justice and providing for those in need. Herself and her husband are the founders of A21, an organisation that: raises awareness about Human trafficking and modern day slavery; rescues human trafficking victims globally; assists in the prosecution of traffickers; and helps survivors to rebuild their lives. Find out more about A21 and support this phenomenal and essential organisation, at: https://www.a21.org

You may now be wondering, what practical ways are there to advocate for justice and provide for those in need, in your everyday life?

Daily practical ways to advocate for justice and to provide for those in need:

  • Reading: the news; daily human rights reports such as the Human Rights Watch organisation (https://www.hrw.org), and simply being informed about injustices going on. You can’t help what you don’t know about, after all.
  • Spreading awareness and sharing information about injustices you have found out about. Word of mouth and social media is more powerful than we realise, as it eventually applies pressure on key stakeholders, to create and allow the change being advocated for.
  • Signing petitions: https://www.gov.uk/petition-government States: ‘Create or sign a petition that asks for a change to the law or to government policy. After 10,000 signatures, petitions get a response from the government. After 100,000 signatures, petitions are considered for debate in Parliament.’ So the next time you see an important petition, don’t just ignore it, but sign it and share it.
  • Donating to trusted NGOs and organisations that do the work to provide for those in need and to directly help victims of injustices and exploitation, such as: A21; Human Rights Watch; Amnesty; Reprieve; and more!
  • Volunteering: Many NGOs rely on volunteering, in order to have enough people and resources to cater to those in need. Consider volunteering for a: NGO; charity; legal clinic; homeless shelter; outreaches abroad to countries struggling with poverty; and more!
  • Choose a career that simultaneously allows you to serve others, whilst you make money for yourself. This isn’t just restricted to charities or careers where your job is to advocate for human rights!
  • Choose to work in corporate companies that do pro bono for organisations that directly meet the legal and financial needs of those who otherwise can’t afford it.
  • Choose to work in companies that care about the impact their operations and their business clients are having on: climate change; international development; combatting labour exploitation; human rights regulations; and more.
  • Be the change you want to see in the world and go out to meet the needs of the most vulnerable. This includes giving food and necessities to the homeless, donating food and clothes to homeless shelters and food/ clothing banks. There is so much we can do to help the vulnerable in our day-to-day lives – I surely need to do MUCH more of the suggestions I have just mentioned!
  • Last but not least, PRAY. We cannot sustainably change anything in this world, without the Lord’s divine intervention. Everyday we must pray: that the hardened hearts of the perpetrators of injustice would be softened by God – that they would repent from their wickedness and submit to God’s will; for the destruction of the devil’s plans to cause greater injustice and deprivation in our world; for the body of Christ and everybody around us to boldly and selflessly advocate for justice; and for essential provision to be brought to those in need.

May God change our hearts to care about the needs of those around us, above our own needs alone, in Jesus’ name!

‘For I, the Lord, love justice. I hate robbery and wrongdoing…’ Isaiah 61:8 NIV

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