Are You Ignoring Injustice?

Over 20 Native American tribes living on reservations make up over a quarter of our state in Arizona. On the San Carlos reservation, just around the corner from us in Globe, half of the people living there battle alcoholism. The teen suicide rate is 7 times higher than the national average.

Out of the more than 22 million refugees in the world, less than one percent are considered for resettlement worldwide. The IRC projects that by the time 2018 is over, only 15,000 refugees will have made it into the U.S. In our own state of Arizona, we are on track to take in the lowest number of refugees in almost 40 years.

These are just a few of the many narratives that are a reality for us right in our own neighborhoods.

I just got back from a peacemaking trip with Central to Israel/Palestine and Jesus has opened my eyes. What I experienced will forever change the way I see people and the significance of their stories. We all have our own narratives. We all have our own stories. What may be true about how my life has played out may not be true about you. Every single person has their own narrative that shapes human existence and the world around us. I implore you to educate yourself about the conflict happening between the Israeli and Palestinian people.

On this peacemaking trip, I got to hear many narratives. I was able to lean in and listen to the stories of people built upon centuries of brokenness. What I saw was heartbreaking, but also beauty from ashes. Little smirks coming from children who live in refugee camps, prayers lifted to heaven for peace, and a glimpse of hope between parents who have lost their children to the conflict on the opposite side. I saw a woman working in a coffee shop raising awareness about the refugee crisis in her country, mothers and fathers who have dreams for their children to prosper, farmers who are relentless in growing their crops despite opposition, and a woman who is boldly running her own organization to provide Bibles to people in countries where it’s illegal.

When we asked if peace was possible, many shrugged or sighed. A few pondered if it would happen in their lifetime. Some threw up their hands. And many seemed to have lost hope. How could you not when your narrative is war and violence for so long? Since returning from my trip, Jesus opened my eyes and reminded me that peace is coming.

I heard a voice thunder from the Throne: “Look! Look! God has moved into the neighborhood, making his home with men and women! They’re his people, he’s their God. He’ll wipe every tear from their eyes. Death is gone for good—tears gone, crying gone, pain gone—all the first order of things gone.” The Enthroned continued, “Look! I’m making everything new.” Revelation 21:4 (MSG)

Jesus will indeed make everything right, and in this I find hope. There is hope for the complexities of human existence. But what does this mean for me now? How can I work to attain peace in my lifetime?! I think it often looks like not turning a blind eye to the injustices happening in your own backyard.

I will no longer choose to be naïve. I will no longer choose to look away from what’s happening in our world just because turning it off feels better than being held accountable for taking action. I will no longer choose ignorance. I will seek out relationships with people who are not like me. I will listen to stories. I will ask questions about their narratives and find compassion for all people.

What is it in your own life that you are turning a blind eye to? Maybe it’s a neighbor. Perhaps it’s a family member or close friend who needs you. Maybe it’s an enemy, or injustices happening right at your doorstep. Take some time today to quiet your soul. Reflect on Ephesians 1:17-19. Ask Jesus to enlighten you. Ask him to share with you what you’ve been naïve to for so long and sit in that tension. Let it be uncomfortable because this is where transformation of the soul begins.

“I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better.I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, and his incomparably great power for us who believe.” Ephesians 1:17-19