How long, O Lord? Wilt thou forget me for ever?
How long wilt thou hide thy face from me?
How long must I bear pain in my soul,
and have sorrow in my heart all the day?
How long shall my enemy be exalted over me?
—Psalm 13.1-2 (RSV)
I don’t think I’ve really understood longing for the justice of God until this last week. As people we are confronted with things that cross our eyes and ears each and every day. Many of these things are ignorable and affect us only in passing, still others cause us joy and others still sorrow. However, there are some actions that people do that make us long for the justice of God. Actions that utterly destroy the dignity of the person and yet go unpunished cause us the most consternation. Rape, abuse, racism, hatred, bigotry—these actions destroy the image of God in another person. They are an abomination to all that is good in humanity, in the image of God and more than the person, it is God himself who we profane when we partake in these actions. These are sins that are especially odious to God.
This week I have had the opportunity, the unfortunate privilege, of overhearing some of this. However, more than that I was unable to remedy what I heard in any way and all I could feel was sadness, guilt, and anger at the injustice of what I heard being unpunished. My heart can only cry out “How long” as it lavishes care upon things that I have no power in myself to change. This rage, this anger, this sorrow is the only right response and yet I have only felt this now because I personally have overheard one of these odious acts rather than reading it or knowing about it through the distance of journalism. Ultimately what this has shown me is how little these sins actually do anger me and how can Christians not be driven to anger, to a righteous and just anger over wrong and injustice. This is the exact reason we long for the realization of the kingdom of God, the reason we pray “thy kingdom come.”
Thinking about this still brings up anger and sorrow to the forefront of my heart. I can do nothing but be moved to the verge of tears at the injustice I have observed in this world in my short life. There is no care that is too much for the wrong we see in this world, complacency at normality does not make that normality just, therefore I continue to cry to God. There is no other rational response to the injustice than the Psalm I original quoted at the beginning. How long, O Lord, before you will return to this earth and establish your reign and kingdom where justice and peace shall be the norm rather than the exception? How long, O Church, before the injustice in this world drives you to act as a true light of the justice and peace we know can be found in Jesus Christ our Lord?