Inspired by Psalm 123
“Have mercy upon us, O Lord, have mercy upon us, for we have had more than enough of contempt. Our soul has had more than its fill of the scorn of those who are at ease, of the contempt of the proud.” Psalm 123:3-4 (NRSV)
One answer to why suffering occurs is because other people cause it. Greed and self-aggrandizement are useful tools for advancing one’s own power and wealth in this world, and are recognized as virtues by many of those who wish the same success for themselves. But such strategies usually involve exploiting the disenfranchised while simultaneously blaming them for their own powerlessness.
In fact, blaming the lowly for being low makes it easier for the powerful to exploit them, because such blame serves to dehumanize those who suffer and justify the actions that keep them down. They’re seen as worthless and deserving of what happens to them, because if they had any value they wouldn’t be so easily abused. And the circular arguments continue while the powerful increase their power and the vulnerable are trampled and ignored.
Yet God does not view the powerless as sub-human or deserving of contempt. God lovingly created each and every person on this earth, and he put us all here to care for one another. When we call out to him in prayer, he assures us of our inherent value and worth, regardless of our earthly state. And he calls those of us who claim to follow him to recognize the dignity of all those who were made in God’s own image.
God works through his people on earth. When the poor cry out to God for mercy, he calls his faithful followers to address those cries. And while most of us do not rank among the most powerful and do not personally exploit the vulnerable, we do participate in the unjust systems that undergird our societies and provide us with comfort and convenience. Listen to the cries of God’s people, resist the easy path of scorn and blame, and mobilize the whole body of Christ to address the injustice that abounds.
Let us pray. God of justice, you created us all in your image. Incite us to action, that we may bring your mercy to those who cry out for it. Through Christ our Lord, Amen.