Bible Verse: “You too, be patient and stand firm, because the Lord’s coming is near.” (James 5:8)

Scripture Reading: James 5:7-20

Fundamentally, I believe that the future is in God’s hands, not our hands. But at the same time, God has said to us, “You are my image-bearers and partners.” In that sense, the future is in our hands. Because of God’s partnership with us, what we think, write, say, do and advocate in God’s name for the sake of justice can make a difference for the common good.

I have become increasingly convinced that the struggle for justice is a daily seeking. It is a daily search, a daily struggle. We do not know exactly what justice looks like. “For now we see in a mirror, dimly; we know in part” (1 Corinthians 13:2). The pursuit of justice is a human struggle engaged in every day through prayerful reflections, communal deliberations, and social and political actions, all done in the liberating power of the Spirit. We need to struggle constantly with one another about what ought to be said and done at this point in history. But it is crucial to remember that justice is not first of all our pursuit. God is the Author and Sustainer of the quest to work out the meaning of our life and salvation with fear and trembling, also in the political arena. Because of that, choosing to search daily for justice is a liberating choice!

I think of Anglican Archbishop Desmund Tutu. He engaged in a long, long struggle for truth and reconciliation in South Africa. His sense of joy, commitment to God’s leading Spirit, and deep faith that something new can and will happen have been a significant inspiration. I will never forget when Tutu spoke a number of years ago at a memorable service in St. Paul’s Cathedral in Toronto during the “Week Against Racism”. He conveyed to the large audience how he had faced the brutal South African police armed with dogs and tanks and guns and violence. Then he said, “But I got a letter from a lady in California!” She wrote that she went into the woods every day and prayed for Nelson Mandela, Desmond Tutu, Alan Boesak and all the people in South Africa engaged in the struggle against apartheid and racism. I will ever forget what Tutu then said: “On the one hand we faced the oppressors with dogs and guns and tanks and gas and prisons. They thought they were powerful. But we have a faithful lady who prays for us every day in the woods of California. We can’t lose!” And he meant it! It was not just a clever phrase. Prayer that deeply believes that change will come affects things. As the apostle James notes, “The prayer of the righteous is powerful and effective” (James 5:16).

— Gerald Vandezande in Justice, Not Just Us
© Public Justice Resource Centre, 1999.

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