I was reading a distressing story about 100 people who were all diagnosed with rare brain tumors. One of the persons who was afflicted reached out through social media and to his horror, discovered other people who were also diagnosed with this same brain tumor. The common link appeared to be they all attended or worked at the same high school in New Jersey over the previous fifty years. There was speculation that some of the soil used to build the school in 1967 may have originated from an area that had previously been used as a landfill for radioactive waste products. A local and federal investigation is now underway.
The story evoked memories of another tragedy from an earlier generation. Love Canal is a neighborhood in upstate New York. Unknown to the inhabitants, it was constructed on a landfill that was the site of decades of the dumping of toxic chemicals. Families began raising alarms when many of inhabitants began experiencing health problems including leukemias, cancers, and miscarriages. Reporters picked up the story and wrote an expose in 1976 documenting the disaster. The clamor culminated with then President Jimmy Carter declaring a federal health emergency in 1978 leading to a massive cleanup and a fund to help the afflicted citizens.
Environmental tragedies are increasingly common and many undoubtedly are either never discovered, under-reported, or a true causal connection cannot be established. Sadly, it often takes one or more determined individuals to bring attention to the matter and clamor for action before help and justice are received.
One day Jesus told his disciples a story to show that they should always pray and never give up. “There was a judge in a certain city,” he said, “who neither feared God nor cared about people. A widow of that city came to him repeatedly, saying, ‘Give me justice in this dispute with my enemy.’ The judge ignored her for a while, but finally he said to himself, ‘I don’t fear God or care about people, but this woman is driving me crazy. I’m going to see that she gets justice, because she is wearing me out with her constant requests!’”
Luke 18:1-5 (NLT)
This parable that Jesus Christ told His disciples illustrates several points. While we are commanded to follow and obey those in government, it is an imperfect system and sometimes requires us to be persistent in bringing demands and problems to the attention of those in authority. The beautiful solution that Jesus gave is how He contrasted the actions of the unjust judge with God, our Heavenly Father.
Then the Lord said, “Learn a lesson from this unjust judge. Even he rendered a just decision in the end. So don’t you think God will surely give justice to his chosen people who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? I tell you, he will grant justice to them quickly! But when the Son of Man returns, how many will he find on the earth who have faith?”
Luke 18:6-8 (NLT)
Jesus Christ was emphasizing the importance of persisting in prayer. If even an evil, uncaring judge will listen to a persistent woman and grant justice, God, the Almighty Judge, will surely answer our persistent prayers and grant justice.
We should all continue to pray for the families in New Jersey as well as all who have suffered health problems secondary to environmental neglect or disasters. As Christians, we have a responsibility to advocate on behalf of those who are unable or who have succumbed to these tragedies. It requires persistent prayer and action. Thanks be to God that He continually hears us and promises to answer our prayers for all those who placed their trust and faith in Jesus Christ.
Love and trust in the Lord; seek His will in your life.