For those who seek and advocate for justice and peace, the last year has been quite challenging. We have seen the war of attrition in Ukraine grind on. We have seen atrocities committed by both sides in the Israel-Gaza war. We have seen the climate emergency worsen while delegates at the latest COP meeting fail to agree any meaningful measures to reduce fossil fuel emissions. And back home in Australia, the referendum to give Indigenous people a Voice to our Federal Parliament was soundly defeated.
Justice often seems to be in retreat and destruction and violence seem to be everywhere. These are not new observations unfortunately. This was the exact same complaint that the prophet Habakkuk wrote about, questioning why God allowed such injustice to prevail. Or perhaps it is like Paul describes in Romans that the whole of creation is groaning, waiting to be released.
How are we to continue seeking justice without giving up or falling into depression?
We need to remind ourselves that when all seems like doom and gloom, God calls us to hang onto hope, even when we can’t see it distinctly. It was this imaginative sort of hope that Isaiah gave to the exiles in Babylon that God had not forgotten them. It was this same hope that helped Mary envision a world turned upside down. It was this hope that was given startling new form in the resurrection of Jesus when all hope seemed to have died.
And we are called to pray. This can be hard when we see no change or things getting worse. But when we don’t know how or what to pray, Paul reminds us that God’s Spirit intercedes for us with groans too deep for words. So we pray for God to act.
We also pray that God would give us the courage and perseverance to continue the struggle for justice, just as God inspired people like William Wilberforce and Martin Luther King Jr to keep going in the face of seemingly intransigent opposition, for God’s justice will eventually prevail.