Injustice and Justice

Open Your Bible

Deuteronomy 16:19, Psalm 94:1-23, Hebrews 13:3, Isaiah 1:17, Psalm 68:4-10, Matthew 5:13-16, Proverbs 29:7

Some moments have a ripple effect. As a thrown stone breaks the glassy surface of water causing rings to swell and radiate to the shore, some moments break through us and the ripples radiate for days, months, even a lifetime.

Years ago, a distinguished professor who’d been visiting our church agreed to come lead our small group for the evening. I don’t remember his initial topic that night, but as we lingered in conversation, the discussion soon turned to his travels, specifically his time in India. Tears filled his eyes as he recounted the crushing poverty and mind-boggling crowds of men and women and their children, begging in the streets all around him. His voice trembled as he described the enormity of human suffering he’d witnessed there. The heartbreaking stories he shared left mental images of miles of poverty and millions of suffering souls.

After the meeting, I pulled the professor aside and confessed how utterly overwhelmed I was after hearing his stories. I shared how I’d been strangely burdened by the concept of suffering since I was a young girl. “How can this be?” I asked him. “Where is God in the midst of all this? And how on earth can we even begin to enter in and respond to such enormous injustice and suffering?”

The mild-mannered, soft-spoken professor snapped his head toward me, his eyes piercing and focused. “No,” he declared. “Being overwhelmed by suffering is no excuse for doing nothing.” He explained that there will always be more need than we can meet. But that does not mean we aren’t called to enter in and do the things we are able to do right now. His words landed hard. They felt like a rebuke because they were. To be paralyzed by the harsh reality of suffering, to be stuck inwardly condemning global injustice while doing nothing to alleviate it, is not an option God gives us.

God doesn’t sugarcoat the pain and brokenness of the world. He calls out evil, suffering, and injustice (Proverbs 6:16–19). He shines a light on those who are lonely, abandoned, oppressed, and poor (James 1:27). He knows the desperation, the dire circumstances, and the darkness we encounter, both in global proportions and in our most intimate and personal daily struggles (Psalm 139:12). Our God knows we need rescue. And Christ scandalously declares,

“The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
because He has anointed me to preach good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
and recovery of sight for the blind,
to release the oppressed,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”
– Luke 4:18–19

Because He has solidarity with us, we can offer solidarity to the hurting.
Because He defends us, we can defend others.
Because He is our ultimate Judge, we can fight for justice.
Because He is our hope, we can hold on to hope for ourselves and extend it to others.

Christ entered in to rescue us. And the ripple effect of that rescue goes on and on. Thanks be to God alone.

Patti Sauls lives in Nashville, Tennessee, with her husband Scott and daughters, Abby and Ellie, where they serve alongside the people of Christ Presbyterian Church. Prior to living in Nashville, the Sauls planted churches in Kansas City and Saint Louis and served at New York City’s Redeemer Presbyterian Church. A trained speech therapist, Patti also enjoys serving behind the scenes, hiking with friends, and reading good books.

(51) Comments

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51 thoughts on "Injustice and Justice"

  1. Ada McCloud says:

    We (Christians) have to remember all mankind deserves to be defended.

  2. Kristi Resler says:

    I’m in school to become a social worker and just yesterday, our discussion in class centered on “doing what you can.” This message is being reiterated to me through today’s devotional.

  3. Ashley Hoffman says:

    In this season it has been too easy to sit at home, mind my own business, and ignore the sorrow and evil out in the world. But doing that left me unfulfilled and anxious. My pastor said, “If you are needing Hope right now, the best way to receive it is to give it to someone else.” I felt joy for the first time in months helping our church group deliver shoes to kids in need.

  4. Chloe Anne says:

    My heart breaks over what’s been happening in our world as of right now. All these injustices are overwhelming and it can sit so heavy on our hearts, but this doesn’t mean we should not be doing anything. It’s hard to see how God will bring us out of this time of suffering, but I firmly believe that God will provide as He always has and that he will bring justice to the unjust. God will always bring His people out of slavery and to the Promise Land. This has given me hope and I pray for those struggling in this time and greatly affected by these injustices.

  5. Tamara Doyle says:

    This current season has left me feeling helpless and overwhelmed at times. God certainly calls us to action, to meet the real needs of others. But through this season He is also teaching me the importance of the ministry of prayer. Prayer is not doing nothing. Prayer is calling out to the One who can do everything. It comforts me to know that when my heart breaks for suffering in this world, the Lord hears my cries for Him to pour out His mercy—and often prompts my heart as to ways I can be an active part of that pouring out.

  6. Virginia Mhasvi says:

    The message here was convicting. I’m one to easily get overwhelmed with the suffering of this world, but just as the professor said, I don’t have an excuse not to help in any way. I’m called to serve to whatever capacity I can in whatever season I’m in. I think this is also a humble reminder that we can’t do what only God can do. In our serving, we call to remembrance the One who has gone above and beyond to give His life for us. We are also reminded that we are called to be His branches, extending the love that we received from Him as our Vine. He gives us the resources. Let’s be faithful stewards and press on for the sake of His holy name and Kingdom!

  7. Rachel Drummond says:

    I find this challenging. How do we reconcile this instruction to care for others when we are also called to respect our governments and leadership? Would love some insight on this.

  8. Melissa Mcronney says:


  9. Mari V says:

    This has resonated with me. I need not to focus just on myself. As a now single parent for the last two plus years . I am guilty of focusing solely on the needs of my kids. A few weeks ago my daughter and I were at a local coffee shop that’s owned by one of our local churches. A homeless person was in the shop and asked me if I could buy him a cup of coffee. I hesitated. I knew how much I had in my bank account. As it is I normally just buy my daughter her coffee and we share. Needless to say, I bought him one. Do you know what… I had enough left in my bank account

  10. Allie Parker says:

    This lesson reminds me of another passage.

    “He has shown you, o mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you but to seek justice, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God?” Micah 6:8

  11. Maura says:

    So much in this message and the comments from all of you my sisters. Thankful this day that we have a God who multiplies the loaves and fishes. Who can take the little that we give and bless so many with it. Step out, whether with a word, an action, passing on the blessings we have been given and trust that God continues to feed the multitude and can take the gifts we give and empower us with His word to bless the individual, the few, or the many He brings our way just by being willing to speak, to listen, to give that which we have been given.

    Tols, please forgive me. I can not begin to understand the discrimination you have seen and endured. Though it breaks my heart, I know I can not comprehend the depth of your pain. Will be praying Jesus love and healing amidst all of the suffering. His justice and peace.

  12. Avalon Negrette says:

    When I’m not in a good head space, I can think all kinds of untrue things about God and the way He runs things. I can think that I have more wisdom at times. “Why are all these terrible things happening in the world? Doesn’t God see that these things and these people need to be dealt with??” My faith often grows weary at the sight of the homeless (especially during the winter) or when I hear about yet another mass shooting, or any of the awful events that happen in our daily lives around the globe. It really is so overwhelming. How on earth do I fight for the environment, the homeless, women’s rights, starving men, women, and children in third world countries, and so much more! It’s a burden that I don’t believe we’re called to bear alone. I’ve learned that I can really only do so much and that’s okay because my Father in Heaven is doing so much more that me! He’s in control. He hasn’t forgotten his people. He never will.

  13. Linda J says:

    As I celebrate Thanksgiving with my family today may I remember my responsibility to care for those in need. What a perfect message on this particular morning.

  14. Kristen says:

    We are called to be the hands and feet of Jesus. We can do this individually, as a family or at a workplace, or as a church. This is the perfect time to do something. Our work has had a collection to help others by having a dress down day or food drives. There are families that donate in the name of someone at the holidays to organizations like Food for the Poor or World Vision. These organizations have opportunities right now to donate money so they can buy chickens for a family to raise, school supplies, food for an individual or family, provide clean water and many more choices. Our church has multiple campuses. One goes to downtown Pittsburgh to feed the homeless on Sunday nights and tell them about Jesus and provide food. They pick the homeless up for church and have helped some get housing. One has a program for the kids in a city outside of Pittsburgh to provide food and teach about Jesus. There is a medical clinic out of one building with real doctors and nurses for those without health insurance. We have our own food banks to help. They give the opportunity to participate in Operation Christmas Child which is a ministry that sends shoe boxes to children around the world filled with necessities and a toy. They also share about the Savior. We had an Angel Tree last week where you could pick a child that has a parent in prison. You buy the gift and a team from church will deliver the gift from the parent and share the Good News. We need to tell people about Jesus, but we have to show people Jesus too! We can all do something!

  15. Churchmouse says:

    May I not stand at the shoreline and refuse to skip the stone that is in my hand. Evil is pervasive and comes in all forms and it can be overwhelming and nearly paralyzing. It is a lie of the devil to think I can do nothing of consequence. There is always something I can do to foster good, to shed light. I need to just be willing to cast out my stone, no matter its size, to cause that ripple effect. May I send that stone out with the prayer “Come, Lord Jesus!” because He is the only perfect solution. But until He returns, may I be faithful and obedient at the shoreline, skipping stone after stone. Doing the next right thing in His name.

    1. Karlie Nesson says:


  16. Sue says:

    Happy Thanksgiving!
    May my gratefulness for all Christ has done for me have a ripple effect in how I respond to others.

  17. Aries Wang says:

    Amen. Justice and empathy work hand in hand.

  18. Kari says:

    Wow the Psalm 94 reading was so relevant to our society right now! Every word. Thank you for these readings and inspiring devotional today, Patti!

  19. Lisa Janzen says:

    I’ve been reflecting on the horrific events of Charlottesville and honestly this piece of writing came at such a perfect time. As a privileged white woman, I’ve felt overwhelmed in knowing how to respond. Wanting to do something but also not wanting to join in with some of the hate filled response- even though I hate the destructive and horrific racism. Being overwhelmed and doing nothing is not what we are called to do. Somehow when I read that there will always be more hurt in the world than we can help, actually makes me feel more hopeful to do what we can because we have God to help us. We aren’t expected to do it on our own. Thanks so much for this. I read this and realized God’s timing is perfect.

  20. Abby says:

    God is helping me heal, now I pray that He shows me how I can help others as the “ripple effect”

  21. Jenny says:

    This reading makes me ponder if I could or should be doing more. I feel right now in life that I am kind of ‘waiting.’ I feel that God is preparing me for what’s ahead. But I still want to be doing something. There is so much hurt in the world. I will wait for him to show me the way and keep my eyes open for opportunities. I know he has a plan for me HERE in this season!!

  22. Sarah Ann says:

    Wow- I know I’m a little behind on going through this- but it fits perfectly today. I work with teen moms through YoungLives and sometimes their needs and sufferings are emotionally draining- but Jesus, right? This encourages me a new passion to share HIS hope. It can be found in no other place.

  23. Leesha says:

    This topic has been on my heart for years. As a ten year old, I was trying to come up with a plan on how to send basic toiletries to needy people in Africa. And while that plan never really came to much of anything. I grew in my desire to help others. My mission field has been friends and lending helping hands and ears to them. And now in 2 months, I get to follow what my heart has been longing to do for years, I get to go and help children overseas in places where they do not know love or safety. I get to be love for them.
    This idea that helping those you can help and not becoming overwhelmed by the sheer number of people that are out there to be helped puts things into perspective as I prepare to go and do just that. Always good to keep in mind.

  24. Ellie says:

    Tols – I am so sorry that in many ways, many of us still do not get it. We have been blessed to be in a large multi racial, multi denominational church for 12 years. I know this helps a bit because we know, love and see God in so many ways together. And that breaks my heart in so many ways. Two of our beautiful grandchildren are multi racial. They are little now, but I fear for their future. So I ask that you continue to tell us that we need to do it better and please know that many of us are working on it. Your words have helped me to know that I should be doing much more. Please continue to pray for all of us as you do and thank you so much for your words.

  25. Tols says:

    This message struck me today as a black woman constantly seeing uncensored and multiple footage of people like me being murdered on a daily basis with no justice for them or the families. I have felt furious, hopeless, and disappointed. Disappointed in the absolute reluctance of most Christians to denounce this evil and not just attribute it to ‘end times’ which to me translates into ‘get over it. The world is supposed to be getting worse’.

    The more I den this reaction, the more I have been determined to scream from the rooftops that our lives matter. That Black Lives Matter. The more determined I have been not just to sit back and ‘pray about it’. The world needs to see how the contempt for our lives is destroying us as a community, physically, psychologically, socially. Just in every way possible. And I keep asking God why. Why are we seen as people to be abused, trod on, discriminated against, snuffed out. Just because of our skin. The one he gave us. Ladies I have battled with fury this year and in previous years, and although I don’t have all the answers, I know for a fact the church should be speaking up about it and I’m continuingly finding it hard to reconcile myself to a faith and community that would remain silence. All I know that is true is that God and Jesus are. I trust them. Everyday is prayer not to be consumed by resentment and bitterness towards fellow Christians, some of whom spout the most evil justifications for Black Death I have ever heard.

    God is still working on me. I will continue to speak for the oppressed and I will continue to pray to not be consumed with disgust at the people who are meant to be my brothers and sisters in Christ.

    When there is justice for the oppressed, there is peace. And this goes for all the other situations in the world too, not just hunger and poverty as we like to focus on. Terrorism, sex-trafficking, honour killings…all of it.

    1. Laura Jasmine says:

      God has been absolutely breaking my heart over this lately. I am white and very passionate about social justice. It is unbelievable to me that there are Christians who discriminate so blatantly against folks with black skin. I have even been disappointed in some of the social media posts of my own family members, who are generally very nice and not people you’d think of as racist. Please know that you have white Christian allies out here who are doing more than just pray and sit on the sidelines, and I am one of them. Not to say that prayer isn’t needed, because it is, but as the scriptures in today’s readings show, we are called to more than that. We are called to actively confront oppression and discrimination when we see it. I am also with you in praying that I not turn in anger on my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. It is so hard! But I know that ugliness fighting ugliness is not the way. Hang in there, sister. Much love to you.

      Oh and p.s. – I have been proud to see some prominent Christians and leaders of the church speaking out against discrimination toward black Americans! Try following Rachel Held Evans and Jen Hatmaker for starters :)

    2. Catie says:

      Thank you for this and for sharing your personal, righteous anger toward such injustice. Even comments like this help promote understanding and motivate action. I think some Christians and people in general have a distorted view on anger. We need to get angry healthily towards the things that also grieve the Lord’s heart. Our church had a worship night a few weeks ago and I was overcome with the fact that the Lord gets angry, gives grace, but never has fear. Praying that especially for Americans that are hearts continually become aligned with the Lord’s: that we get angry, give grace, but do not fear taking action.

      1. Nads says:

        Agree with all the above; I was so thankful when our priest woke people up to be active in opposing the hate that allows these atrocities to happen under our noses.

        I was also thankful for his rebuke of people holding their heads high, saying that the people in Orlando simply “got what they deserved”. Lord
        have mercy!

  26. kng says:

    Thanks for your words. I’m also a speech path and it has been an interesting first year of work balancing career and the rest of life and trying to sort through what it means to live justly and to relate to community with compassion and love as Christ has revealed to us. Being involved with church and trying to put in time as I feel burdened in both work and ministry is a challenge but these passages of scripture and this study hav been good and timely reminders of seasons and the Hope we have and the grace He pours out on us that we may continue striving and persevering through whatever wrongs we encounter and have to engage with in our world.

  27. SuzD says:

    Thank you all for your comments. May we all find that mission in our lives to help who and where we can.

  28. Marcia Myers says:

    This piece resonates with my life experience since early childhood. But most recent and perhaps most profoundly, I have been a witness to Southern-style, multiple socio-economic stratified resemblance of old British Imperialism [think Downton Abbey], as demonstrated daily by aristocratic to impoverished zip codes, to and from my professional work commutes. Often keenly aware of my service to at least three ‘layers’ of human condition economically, overwhelms me to tears.
    God grant us all eyes to see [through the tears ] with resolve to repent, give and serve justly and faithfully. Life is temporal, eternity is not. This gift to me, ‘to see’ , is hard-learned, whilst both caring for the sick, poor and needy, as a decades long professional, viable-single parent and double widow. James 1:27 remains true religion, no matter the zip code.

  29. jeanne says:

    What a well-written and thoughtful message this morning. I too have always felt an immensely compassionate heart since I was young, but it’s not always easy to productively use… I know I don’t do as much for the broken as my heart is capable of, and I know I need to actively change that.

    As a believer, it boggles my mind to see many (including other christians) be so cold to those who are weak or different, and to wish ill-will upon them. We are truly meant to be a light in the darkness, leading the way of justice and love. Sadly that’s not the image many have of Christians today. I pray that we can have the strength and courage to see others the way God sees them, and to act out justice in love whenever needed.

  30. Jenna Hoff says:

    This article has touched and taught me this morning and deeply encouraged me.

    Thank you

  31. Caroline says:

    Providing foster care is such a wonderful opportunity to minister to the broken and share Christ’s love generously and abundantly. What an exciting step for you! I’m only in high school now, so it will be a while, but I think I would like to be a foster parent in the future. It breaks my heart to know that kids my age and younger don’t have a good family support system to fall back on. Praying for your journey.

    1. Jenna Hoff says:

      Caroline that is beautiful of you. Can I encourage you in something? When I was around 18 or 19 late one night I felt God impress on my heart one day I’d adopt a 10 year old girl with special needs. I began to pray for her here and there over the years….10 years later sure enough God brought our beautiful daughter to us. I encourage you to start praying for your future foster kids now.

    2. Juliet says:

      That is beautiful!! It’s a unique call and I’m so excited when I hear other people wanting to join in on this ministry…there is such a need! Keep following Him and I know He will lead you

  32. Juliet says:

    We recently got our license to be foster parents and this concept of fighting for injustice has weighed heavily on my heart. So many things about foster care seem broken, heavy and so unfair for these little ones…it’s heartbreaking! But what a sweet reminder that God is our defender and our hope, and we can extend that to the brokenness we encounter on this hard road.
    Thank you for this!

    1. Caroline says:

      Oops, the comment below was supposed to be a reply to you. :)

      1. Melissa says:

        It is absolutely blows my mind how God works. My husband and I have been always said that we would foster/adopt. We are now expecting our first child (biologically), and I immediately thought, “Well, we’ll put off fostering until our baby is a little older.” A local news station posts short introductions of children that are in the foster care system in our community on Facebook. I watched one, a precious 14 year old boy who loves science and wants nothing more than a family, and wept. Like, broke down weeping. I can not get that little boy out of my head, and I strangely feel that God is telling me that His timing and is not always my timing. I was thinking about all of this when I read this entry (a day late), and then I read your comment. I know God is speaking to me about this. Please pray that He will guide us. I’m scared to death to launch into fostering with zero parenting skills and a little one on the way, but I know He’s bigger than that. Also, please pray for the 14 year old boy in foster care (his name is Corbin). He repeatedly spoke about wanting a family that would never be broken. What a precious, precious soul.

        1. Juliet says:

          Oh my goodness! We are pregnant with our first also (unexpected miracle blessing!) I totally relate to you in this. I wrestled with God’s timing verses my own. A lot of people think we are crazy for still going through with it…and who knows, I may need to take a break soon. But God is so faithful when we step out and do what He calls us to do. I was very encouraged to see your comment and I pray for wisdom and discernment to hear from Him on this. Hugs!

  33. Sarah says:

    We are all called to be missionaries. Some in areas of great poverty and others our mission field starts in our home and when we walk out the front door. We are missionary’s disguised as teachers, nurses, police officers, business people, lawyers, doctors, etc. and we can touch the hurting everyday if we choose to honor his call. There are hurting people everywhere. We must do what we can to financially support people who are called to help those in deep poverty, fighting the sex trade, and those who haven’t heard the good word abroad. We can adopt children through Christian ministry to allow them to do good work. If we all work together in our called mission field and support others in theirs we could see the Lord do great miracles every day. I pray that the Lord reminds me of my every day mission field and I get ready to be a missionary every day. Following him and hearing his voice to reach the hurting both in my world. Jesus lead me and remind me to support others in their ministry to theirs both here and abroad.

    1. Nikki says:

      This was awesome, a great reminder that we are missionary’s disguised as everyday people and we can still be a light to those around us.

  34. Carrie Rogers says:

    “Being overwhelmed by suffering is no excuse for doing nothing.”
    Thank you for sharing. I too feel the suffering of the world and wonder what little ole me can do about it. I pray that the “light” within me shine brighter and brighter!

  35. Megan Craig says:

    Ever since I became a Christian, I wanted to be a missionary. When I found that God was calling me to something else, I didn’t know what to do. I had exposed myself to so much suffering that I became burnt out. Like the author, I retreated and felt powerless in the face of all the injustice in the world. Now God is revealing to me that His power is made perfect in my weakness to serve those in need. I have a calling to love my husband, kids, and community. I have a calling to make and sell art that blesses customers with truth, beauty, and purpose. I’m not a missionary saving the world, I’m just a drop in the ocean. But what is the ocean made up of, if not a million tiny drops?

    1. Candy says:

      That is so beautiful Megan! I am an artist too and have been struggling to have God “establish the work of my hands”. Your ocean analogy is wonderful!

  36. Leah says:

    Prayers for you all today

  37. Sooz says:

    As a nurse, when I stopped seeing patients in favor of the management role God opened to me I felt that somehow I had lost my way to touch suffering and make a difference. But through time God showed me also that I need to touch those standing in the shadow of the light He as given me. Those men and women I work with daily need light just as much as anyone. I struggle daily to deal with my own sin and be the light God has called me to be, in the place He has put me, to the people He has given me. May I be a better light today than I was yesterday through my savior Jesus. Amen

  38. Amanda S says:

    This is such a wellwritten text and it really hit me. I know I can help some people, but I can not help all people. This text really summarize that well. I think we as humans, when we hear of injustice, tend to want to help everyone in the world that’s suffering, but we can’t do it alone. In the midst of thee world’s chaos we need to find that thing we are meant to help with, and then do it with all of our hearts ( Ecclesiastes 9:10 – “Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might, for there is no work or thought or knowledge or wisdom in Sheol, to which you are going”.)

    1. Kristine L says:

      Agreed. I used to feel my choice of career (the classroom, not the mission field) made me somehow less of a Christ follower, especially coming from a family of missionaries. But I’ve come to realize that my classroom is my mission field. It might not be filled with hungry, penniless orphans, but even my outwardly wealthy, well adjusted students need to have Light and Love shining on them.

      1. Amanda S says:

        I’m glad you can agree and that you have come to that realization! Being a teacher is one of the most important & helpful careers in my opinion. Teachers are great because they are amongst the people in a students life that matter the most and teach them things they need to know to be able to function in life. I’m still a student & I know how important it can be with a good teacher that brings some (as you said) Light and Love into the classroom.