It's Sunday morning and I'm padding as quietly as I can around my house. That's because my friend Shelby, mom of Sophie The Brave is asleep in my guest room.
If you aren't following Sophie's story, here it is in short:
In May, at age two, Sophie had some trouble breathing and was diagnosed with T-Cell Lymphoma. As hard as that was, they later discovered she doesn't have the "easy" T-Cell Lymphoma that 95% of kids have. No, she's in the other 5%. In August, Sophie got what Shelby calls "Hail Mary chemo" which, by the way, is usually just for adults.
It's December and Sophie is still here. Praise God.
However, the Hail Mary left her with baffling neurological effects that have incapacitated her, except for uncontrollable muscle spasms. This is evidenced by the bruises Shelby has all over her arms and legs from trying to hold Sophie as she flails. She is cancer free right now, (yay) but Sophie has the dubious distinction of being the ONLY (I am not making this up) child in America with this debilitating neurological damage AND aggressive (but currently at bay) cancer. There is no map. There is no support group, and every day is a field trial for Sophie's doctors.
Do you see why Shelby is still sleeping?
All this has me thinking about justice & Purpose.
My friend Jenny reminded me on Friday that none of us should be all that confused about our purpose on this earth. Micah 6:8, she said, lays it out clearly.
Naturally when we talk justice, my mind shouts:
Why must a 2-year-old endure such unspeakably cruel hardship? That is unfair!
But that's not really a question of justice, is it? It's a question of suffering, which is different, and while it's a perfectly fair rabbit to chase (I have chased it plenty over here,) I know I won't get a specific answer to "Why Sophie", so I have to ask a better question like:
What Does justice look like and how do I do it?
God designed me to love justice, like he does, and then he built me to go get it. When I do, It feels satisfying and coherent, like a picture of heaven is starting to form out of my zillion little pieces.
That's why we're so inspired by people like Martin Luther King, who had plenty of reason to believe the moral universe was either indifferent or bent decidedly away from justice. Though he lived in a most discouraging section of the long moral arc, he set his own compass on justice and marched on toward it anyway.
We recognize in him, what is possible in us, and in fact, it's not just possible, it's our purpose.
Ok but how do I do justice?
This brings me back to Shelby.
The term justice is pretty lofty and can be kind of fraught, but the New Living Translation of Micah 6:8 puts it simply: To do what is right.
Doesn't that take the pressure off?
- Put your grocery cart back.
- Pick up trash you didn't drop.
- Stand up and say "this is wrong" even when it costs you.
- When someone is growing a new plant, water it with encouragement.
- Or maybe if their kid is fighting cancer, provide sanctuary, dinner & rest.
Do you see how by simply doing what's right for someone else, your life gets richer and more interesting? Justice is a puzzle of a thousand tiny pieces, and if we're all doing it in small, daily ways, it will add up to a March on Washington. This is our job. Do justice, love mercy and walk humbly.
Of course it's no sacrifice for me to have Shelby over, I love it when she's here, but some other things I do are. As I build this muscle, inclining my behavior toward justice for people who need it, I am satisfied. This is the system God built and it's incredible.
By the way, Shelby showed me this video last night and said, "This is how it is."
If you're struggling with how to make your life matter, which is something I talk about all the time these days, consider just how badly someone might need you to do the right thing for them today. Ask yourself: