Read Psalm 34
How Great Thou Art.
No matter what…
“I will praise the Lord at all times; my mouth will continually praise Him.
I will boast in the Lord, let the oppressed hear and rejoice!
Magnify the Lord with me! Let us praise His name together!”
Ps 34:1-3 New English Translation
Tonight I was at the opening night of the IJM Global Prayer Gathering 2014. International Justice Mission is a human rights organization that rescues victims of violence, sexual exploitation and slavery around the globe.
It was profound.
I am struggling to express my thoughts, emotions and the impact of the program.
(info about: online stream available: http://ijm.org/sites/default/files/download/How-To-Host-GPG-Online.pdf)
Psalm 34 is an excellent example of the lesson learned this evening.
We heard stories of those caught in violence that accompanies poverty. Young girls sold into sexual slavery, widows and children driven from their homes by government officials, sweatshops and slavery for over 30 mission people.
Gary Haugen, the President and founder of IJM spoke about justice, evil and the Presence of God in the face of such injustice, as well as what we could specifically pray in the battle against such violence.
Anticipating this event, I wondered if these subjects could be talked about in a meaningful way that provided hope, without trivializing the horror of the violence or giving pat answers about God. I have been burdened about my role in the work of “doing justice” as we are commanded by God. I wasn’t sure how I would handle the overwhelming magnitude of injustice and violence discussed, while feeling like my efforts were like trying to empty the ocean with a paper cup.
Tonight offered some new thoughts which brought a deep sigh of relief and hope that I could make a difference.
- Justice is God’s work that we get to be part of.
- Justice is God’s responsibility.
- I am invited to participate in what God is doing in His world to battle injustice.
Gary Haugen’s keynote was raw and honest about the reality of Evil. But even more passionately he taught from Scripture about God’s power at work against evil. He shared victories witnessed; some were 4 years in the making. Others still need our prayer and the immense power of God to bring justice and healing.
Gods’ presence filled the room. In the midst of stories of evil, there was a profound sense of God being at work in the world to bring Light into the darkness.
- Nothing trite.
- No easy answers.
- No candy coated or sanitized version of what IJM workers encounter in the field.
- No backing down from prayers still waiting to be answered.
- No questions that evil will be defeated in the end.
- No doubt that in the midst of it all God is good.
The keynote ended with the story of Anika* who had been kidnapped at 14 and sold into slavery in Mumbai. Men could buy her for $5 and she was raped up to 25 times a day. She was rescued from this horror through the work of IJM.
As healing came, her life restored, Anika* asked to work with IJM and successfully helped shut down another local brother in Mumbai.
Her face filled the scree and I was struck by her smile. She didn’t look haunted, but rather hopeful, healing, purposeful in helping others.
Gary closed in prayer.
Sara Groves, the worship leader, began to play “How Great Thou Art” on the piano, and I was overcome with emotion.
What a juxtaposition! And yet it felt so right.
Our God is Great and Mighty to save. He is in the midst of our world, His Light dispelling the darkness and we get to be a part of the His work.
How Great Thou Art.
Darkness doesn’t change this Truth.
Evil, while it may hide this Truth, cannot diminish it.
The existence of brothels, slave labor, and the violence of poverty do not destroy the Truth.
How Great Thou Art.
That is the reason we are even able to enter into the battle.
He is the Power at work within us, and His Power is at work doing far beyond anything we can.
The reality of injustice set against the Goodness and Greatness of God, took my mind to a hill on Calvary.
And so, I have hope.
Listen to: Wonderful Merciful Savior, by Selah
This weekend, I will be with 1200 others at the Global Prayer Gathering #GPG14.
Praising God, Calling on the Power of God to bring His justice, save His children, break the strongholds
Asking God to Make the Darkness Light (Luke 1:78-79)
Learning about the work of Justice…
Praying for the work of Justice…
Leaning into the words of Psalm 34.
- What does the work of justice mean to you?
- What do you believe God is asking you to do regarding His call to rescue/care for the oppressed and to “do justice”? (Micah 6:8)
- How do you deal with the juxtaposition of the evil in the world and the Psalmist call and claim to Praise God at all times?
Reread Day 14: Isaiah 1:16-17
Reread Day 3: Do Something
Please take some time to look at IJM website and see what stirs in your heart.
There are many ways to “do justice;” this is one avenue to explore. IJM gives numerous “something’s” that we can be a part of to obey God’s call to seek justice for the oppressed.
Read and reflect:
“God demands that we do everything in our power to act as “God’s hands” in bringing justice.
And as Saint Augustine reminds us, “Charity is no substitute for justice withheld.”
The Lord looked and was displeased that there was no justice. He saw that there was no one, He was appalled that there was no one to intervene. (Isaiah 59:15-16)
This is the only place in the Bible where the word “appalled” is used for the way God feels — in other words, the only thing which we know God is appalled by is if people are not doing justice.
There are hundreds of other references to justice in the Bible, including:
- Blessed are they who maintain justice . . . . (Psalm 106:3)
- This is what the LORD says: Maintain justice and do what is right . . . . (Isiah 56:1)
- This is what the LORD says: Do what is just and right. (Jeremiah 22:3,13-17)
- Follow justice and justice alone. (Deuteronomy 16:19, 20)
- For the LORD is righteous, he loves justice . . . . (Job 11:5,7)
- Learn to do right! Seek justice . . . . (Isaiah 1:17)
Instead, Hebrews 11:33 tells us that we are God’s hands for dispensing justice, and God uses us to “administer justice.”from : (from http://www.washingtonsblog.com/2010/03/real-christians-fight-against-injustice.html)
While I don’t agree with everything he writes, I do think he makes some interesting points.
Re-read Day 7: Psalm 34:4-7
Commentaries on Psalm 34:
Psalm 34:1-8 as an Individual Hymn of Thanksgiving: http://www.workingpreacher.org/preaching.aspx?commentary_id=361
Daily Lectionary Readings:
Proverbs 2:1, 12-22; Psalm 34; John 7:1-2, 10, 25-30
If you want to read through the New Testament during Lent (about 1/2 hour a day)
Read on Day 31: 2 Corinthians 1-end