My inability to respond amidst hurt and suffering carries serious ramifications for myself and others. I’m not referring to injustices that are petty inconveniences and first-world problems, but matters that affect human rights, health and safety, violent conflicts, and problems with education, the environment, the economy. Paralysis in the face of such monumental suffering troubles me. My inner critic urges me to do something. A guilt storm swirls in my head. Though I know I can’t fix all the world’s wrongs, I sometimes wonder, “What is my injustice threshold?”
Judah and Reuben are the only brothers mentioned by name in this twisted plot against their brother and father. The remaining sons are present and active, yet stay silent. They hoist Joseph from the well, sell him to the Ishmaelites, and slaughter a goat to fake their brother’s death. While their motivation is complicated, their intention is clear: keep Joseph’s blood off their hands via human trafficking. Their profiting in the process is an added benefit. It’s only after these events, when they present their dad with the forged evidence of Joseph’s passing, that they break their silence, disowning Joseph by saying, your son’s robe instead of “our brother’s robe” (v. 32).
Plenty of times I’ve given injustice the silent treatment. Sometimes I cross my fingers and hope that someone else will respond instead of me. Sometimes I care more about maintaining my reputation than speaking truth. Sometimes I keep quiet if that will lead to a personal benefit. But when I embrace God’s justice, I find community—and enough courage, comfort, and compassion for everyone to share.
What is my injustice threshold? How can I take injustice to God in prayer? Where might God be leading me to speak up or advocate for justice?
God of great courage and strength, where there is silence amidst injustice, let me live boldly and truthfully. Amen.