Suffering Injustice

Bible Reading: Genesis 26:34-35; 27; 28

Esau was tricked out of his father's blessing by his selfish, conniving brother and his manipulative mother, and no amount of tears or pleading could regain his loss. He must have agonized for years over the injustice of what happened to him. He had been betrayed by his brother, his mother and, though innocently, by his father too. He tried to win back his parents' favor by choosing a wife they would approve of, but "Esau held a grudge against Jacob" (27:41) and planned to kill him after their father died.

When their mother heard about Esau's plan for revenge, she sent Jacob away to live with his Uncle Laban. She instructed Jacob, "Stay with him for a while until your brother's fury subsides. When your brother is no longer angry with you and forgets what you did to him, I'll send word for you to come back from there" (27:44-45).

How could Esau ever "forget"? I'm sure the injustice never left Esau's memory, but it did eventually leave the focus and forefront of his mind. When Jacob and Esau were finally reunited 20 years later, "Esau ran to meet Jacob and embraced him; he threw his arms around his neck and kissed him. And they wept" (33:4). Sadly, however, it appears that Rebekah never saw her favored son again.

Jesus modeled how he wants us to respond to injustice. "It is commendable if a man bears up under the pain of unjust suffering because he is conscious of God.... To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps. 'He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth.' When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly" (1 Peter 2:19-23).

Lord, when I suffer injustice, help me to work through my anguish and anger, and choose to follow in your steps. May I respond, not with deceit, retaliation or threats, but with endurance, mercy and forgiveness, entrusting myself "to him who judges justly." I place the offense in your hands, Lord; use it as a tool to mold and shape me into a more Christ-like vessel. I place, also, my offender in your hands, to be convicted and judged by you, and transformed according to your will.

"May the arrogant be put to shame for wronging me without cause; but I will meditate on your precepts" (Psalm 119:78). I will turn to your word for direction, comfort, encouragement, and the ability to forgive and "forget." Replay your instructions in my mind: "Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.... Do to others as you would have them do to you.... Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful. Do not judge.... Do not condemn.... Forgive..." (Luke 6:26-28, 31, 36-37). When no amount of tears or wishes can change the events of my past, let my prayers and forgiveness effect a change in my "enemies," and let your word and your Spirit change me.