Of Justice and Shalom

Three years ago, I stood on the roof of one of the few remaining upright buildings in downtown Port-au-Prince, doing a 360, trying to take it in, if that were even possible. In all directions and as far as I could see, crumbled buildings. I could see almost too much from this vantage point, my brain unable to process all that lay in front of me. My heart wept along with my eyes as I processed before me the broken icons of a broken land. The Presidential Palace, crumbled in place. The National Cathedral, in ruins. Schools, churches, supermarkets, all reduced to piles of cinder-made-tomb.
Three years later, I find myself not crying so much and I have to admit that bothers me a little. I don’t want to not be able to cry. Does that make sense?

I stand by my double negative. For aren’t tears a measure of impact? And might not a dry face betray at least a slight measure of callous disregard?

I still cry, just not as much. My tear glands are tired I guess. Things that used to make my eyes well up now provoke other responses in me. (Rationalizing? Perhaps. But this is how I let myself off the hook.)

These days, my reactions to pain and injustice are subtler, though no less real. Wet eyes have given way to clenched-jawed determination and grit… to right the wrongs that caused the anguish in the first place. Planting trees and gardens. Helping families start businesses. Teaching sick villages how to not get sick. Equipping peasant families to catch and clean rainwater, and to use it to irrigate their gardens. Assuring them that there is a God Who knows and loves them and desires more than anything that they know Him. Are these not the things of justice, of shalom?

“My righteousness draws near speedily, my salvation is on the way, and my arm will bring justice to the nations. The islands will look to me and wait in hope for my arm.” Isaiah 51:5