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“Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.” Matthew 5:5
As justice seekers, we are bold and courageous in our prayers and determined in our actions. We zealously take hold of the vision to seek justice, rescue the oppressed, defend the orphan, plead for the widow (Isaiah 1:17). And because God enables us to accomplish amazing things, we can be tempted to hold our boldness, our passion and our zeal as ideals.
But Jesus tells us that the meek shall inherit the earth—the gentle and lowly, not necessarily the bold and brave.
For it is when we are meek, when we are not relying on our strengths or talents, that God can really use us. When we acknowledge that our lives are not our own, God can use them for something more.
Pranitha Timothy was the Director of Aftercare in one of IJM’s South Asia offices. She worked fearlessly to protect poor children, women and men from exploitation in her country: She led more than 50 rescue operations to free entire families trapped in forced labor slavery, she served as the chief legal witness in trials against slave owners, and she developed IJM's landmark aftercare strategy to restore and reintegrate thousands of freed slaves.
Pranitha shares her own story here:
One day at the end of my Masters of social work program, I remember sitting in a chapel, crying and asking God what to do with my life. The chapel speaker was reading Isaiah 42, and I clearly heard God telling me this is what I was to do with my life.
"Here is my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen one in whom I delight; I will put my Spirit on him, and he will bring justice to the nations. He will not shout or cry out, or raise his voice in the streets. A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out. In faithfulness he will bring forth justice; He will not falter or be discouraged till he establishes justice on earth. In his teaching the islands will put their hope." (Isaiah 42:1-4)
What a beautiful mission. I heard God's call to be a light to the nations, to establish justice on earth for those who are in captivity and darkness.
Weeks later I was diagnosed with a brain tumor that was choking my nerves. I had lost 60% of the strength in my muscles. I had surgery, but I could no longer speak. I went back to Isaiah 42, which says, "He will not shout or cry out, or raise his voice in the streets." I could not cry out, but I began working faithfully. After two years, God gave me this voice back, feeble but powerful in his hands.
But the restoring of my voice was not the greatest miracle I have seen; it was his renewal of my heart.
Growing up, my parents were missionaries, and I swore I would never become a Christian. I hated Christ for separating me from my family and making me grow up in boarding schools. I had no morality… I was eventually expelled from college for my behavior. I had reached a place where nothing good could come out of me.
I realized in my brokenness that my only hope was the forgiveness of Jesus Christ. I knew I needed his power to overcome the darkness. At last, I embraced it. The prophet writes, "God took this heart of stone and gave me the heart of flesh." Today I am able to feel emotion.
My calling is my response to the freedom I have in Christ.
- We are called to serve.
God showed me very early in my work with IJM that I am no hero. Time and time again I have heard stories of slaves who cried out to a God they did not know, and God sent our team. I know I cannot do anything without God, but being humble does not mean God will not require anything of me that requires great strength.
- This life belongs to God.
The proper source of strength and courage is not willful determination, but to remember that my life is God's and so is my strength.
A few years ago my colleagues discovered a rice mill where dozens were enslaved by a cruel owner who beat them. When we worked with the government to plan a rescue operation, someone tipped him off and he drove them away. Truly by the hand of God we located the truck 14 miles away. We thought it was over, but the authorities insisted they go back to the rice mill to identify their belongings. The laborers knew the owners would kill them. Sure enough, when we drove into the rice mill we were surrounded by a mob waiting to attack us. All we could do was pray. God confused the crowd, and after a four-hour siege, the mob cleared a path and allowed us to leave. We were safe, the laborers were safe, and we were able to bring about new lives of freedom.
- God is good.
It would be easy for me to tell you only of the victories, the stories that end in the way I hope they would. But our faith must encompass a God who is good even when what we see in the world is not good. When laborers are hidden away so we could not find them, when former slaves succumb to illness. We are still working with the people we rescued from the rice mill. And this girl who was once cold and calculating was able to help rescue them because God is a God who is good.
- Why is meekness an important quality in the work of justice?
- How does viewing your life as belonging to God, instead of belonging to you, change the way you live?
- In what ways might Pranitha’s story challenge you to step out in your own faith?
- In what ways do you feel weak or incapable? How can God use you despite your weaknesses?
- Where in your life can you seek justice for those who might not be able to? How can you establish justice on earth for those who are in captivity and darkness?
- Pray for a movement of God’s justice—for a generation of believers to give God full access to their lives and have passion to take action.
- Pray for an attitude of meekness—that as we witness God’s great power working through us, we constantly lay our pride, successes and talents before God to allow God to use us in greater ways.
- Pray for faithfulness to continue when the work is hard and for us to remember that it is God who will ultimately bring about justice.