The title of the book immediately caught my attention. I had just returned from two hard months overseas and my mind was still reeling with everything that I saw. I went on a prayer walk around the city with the missionary I was staying with, and righteous anger began to overwhelm my mind. During this time, that age-old question began to become so much more real – “Why does God allow bad things to happen?”
Growing up in a Christian home, that question was never a serious struggle for me. God blessed me beyond measure with a wonderful family and a comfortable environment. But after traveling so much, God began to open my eyes to the true sufferings of this world and that question began to plaque my mind harder and harder.
So why does God allow bad things to happen? Gary Haugen explains everything my heart was feeling in this book, Good News About Injustice: A Witness of Courage in a Hurting World. He breaks down the injustices that occur and uses powerful Scripture passages to show not only how God views injustice, but also God’s plan to end it.
Gary Haugen explains how this question hit home for him when he worked the Rwanda Genocide. He had to investigate the brutal murders of thousands of Rwandans and attempt to identify victims in mass graves. He writes,
“This was not an undifferentiated mass of lifeless clods on the inevitable dust heap of a fallen world. In truth each body, now dull and limp in the mud, was actually a unique bearer of the image of God, a unique creation of the divine Maker, individually knit within a mother’s womb by the Lord of the universe.” (Haugen, 42).
The injustice done to humans is complete blasphemy to God. The evil doers take the precious creations bearing His image and wholly dishonors it – they mutilate, they humiliate, and brutally decimate others for their own selfish gains.
Gary Haugen goes on to explain that his stories of the Rwandan genocide may just seem like bunch of words strung together that tug at your heart for a minute, but you continue on with your day and forget about all the oppression going on around you. Why? Not because you are an uncompassionate Christian and not because you don’t care; but it’s difficult wrapping our minds around a painful topic when we ourselves have not experienced it. God talks about this a lot in His Word. In Hebrews 13:3, it states: “Remember the prisoners as if chained with them – those who are mistreated – since you yourselves are in the body also.” (NKJV). Developing a quality attitude of compassion and empathy is something that has to be practiced. Gary Haugen explains this by analyzing the calling of every Christian:
“But what is the core of my Christian calling? Every Christian who knows his or her Bible has a ready answer: to love God and to love our neighbor as ourselves (Matthew 22:37-40). Christ taught us that to love our neighbor was to treat people the way we would like to be treated (Luke 6:31). Accordingly, the call to remember the oppressed is couched in the logic of love.” (Haugen, 53).
Love. It is the essence of our being. When we truly grasp the creed of love, all other Christian values will follow – compassion, empathy, communion with the lost and hurting. Haugen explains that when we grasp a compassion and love for others we can begin to see God’s view of justice much more clearly. He states that we can have hope in the God of Justice, of Moral Clarity, and of Compassion. This hope, however, first requires belief – a sure and strong belief that God is who He says He is. He is the supplier of the strength, courage, and love we need to effectively fight the injustice of this world. Haugen writes:
“Likewise, our great inheritance of hope from a God of justice does us and the world no good unless we claim it. When we truly believe the testimony of the Scriptures and of Jesus Christ that our heavenly Father is a God of justice, we are equipped to be light in a dark world. The hope is truly ours; we just have to claim it. We have a great witness for a weary world, if we are simply willing to believe.” (Haugen, 91).
Later on, Haugen writes answers for the difficult questions we face when looking at the oppression and injustice. He explains why injustice occurs, how we, as Christians, are to handle it, and solutions to ending the oppression.
What we need to remember is that God is on our side. He hates injustice. He hates oppression. He hates the suffering. He longs for every human to be free – not only physically, but spiritually as well. He is not willing that any should perish. Psalm 146:5-10 has been an incredible encouragement to me.
Blessed is he whose help is the God of Jacob,
whose hope is in the Lord his God,
the Maker of heaven and earth,
the sea, and everything in them —
the Lord, who remains faithful forever.
He upholds the cause of the oppressed
and gives food to the hungry.
The Lord sets prisoners free,
the Lord gives sight to the blind,
the Lord lifts up those who are bowed down,
the Lord loves the righteous.
The Lord watches over the alien
and sustains the fatherless and the widow,
but he frustrates the ways of the wicked.
The Lord reigns forever,
your God, O Zion, for all generations.
Praise the Lord.”
May our prayer continually be that He uses each of us to “uphold the cause of the oppressed” and “frustrate the ways of the wicked.” I highly recommend reading this book. Whether you have been called to work in the field of human rights or called to be a pastor, missionary, lawyer, nurse, engineer, business manager, teacher, ect., this book thoroughly explains what every Christian is called to do: love God and love others, and we do this by fulfilling His commandments of establishing His justice here on this earth.
“God is looking for people through whom He can do the impossible. What a pity we plan to do only the things we can do by ourselves.” – A. W. Tozer