Hi everyone. Rob here.
Last week I watched a documentary about how the 2008 Global Financial Crisis came about. It was a story of greed, manipulation, foolishness, selfishness, ignorance and more. It left me with a dirty taste in my mouth and a simmering anger at the casual evil that pervades our world. It also left me somewhat cynical and untrusting, and fearful that my retirement investments are being used to perpetuate an oppressive system that rewards the rich and punishes the poor. While it is healthy to have our eyes opened to injustice, it is unhealthy to allow the anger to turn into resentment and cynicism. As my old pastor used to ask, what to do? How do we guard our heart in moments like that?
The easy answer is to say, “come back to God.” Some might suggest leaving your brain at the door and simply worship. I don’t subscribe to that. I believe in bring your whole self into God’s presence, including the anger, resentment and cynicism. I’m unable to swing from raging against the machine to raising my hands in praise in one easy movement. My heart needs a different path.
To turn to God in these moments is to deny the world and the enemy the victory. We also turn to God, not to forget the injustice, but to surrender ourselves to the One who is true justice, lest we go off and fight a battle in our own strength or that may not be ours to fight. It also guards us against feeling powerless. When we bring ourselves and the issues before God we are indeed acting powerfully.
So the first thing I do is to name what angers me. For example, in the documentary I was angry at how the powerful exploit the powerless for their own gain without a second thought. I bring that before God and ask if it aligns with God’s anger. God too gets angry. The prophets reveal God’s wrath over the same issue. We’re in alignment. I then ask God to examine me. Am I part of the problem or part of the disease as Coldplay once sang. There are things to work on. There are investments to check, spending habits to amend and attitudes to open up to God’s Spirit. Then I sit in stillness for a bit. But I need more. The cynicism lingers and so I need beauty.
It was as I walked by the river that runs through our city, seeing the sun’s rays bouncing off the water, noticing the birds and the trees, that the utter faith in the sovereignty and goodness of God returned. I found a book full of stories of hope and I’m reminded that the kingdom comes through yeast and mustard seeds. I find myself reflecting on John 1:3.
Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.
And then this one came to mind:
In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world (John 16:33)
After this process I feel informed about evil, but not cynical. I am still angry at the injustice but I have let go of resentment. I feel empowered to play the part that God has asked me to play and to let go of the rest. I have been led back to worship, trust and surrender. I find this is the process that God leads me on for more personal injustices as well, such as when people speak ill of me or I’ve been exploited in some way. God is our safe space, our friend, our redeemer and rescuer. He does lead us to still waters. He does light our path.
May you know God’s heart for justice, but also know his peace and his love this week.
Really enjoyed this post Rob. I love seeing your openness and how your faith and trust in God is worked out practically. There is often much talk about what we should do but not how we can do it. Very encouraging and inspiring – will definitely be working through these steps as I process the many injustices over here. Like you said, it’s so easy to let resentment build – it kind of sneaks up on ya! But this is a good reminder to not shut God out of that but to let Him in. Thank you!