Each day brings further stories of injustice, especially for those pursuing Godly faithfulness and truth. It feels we are bombarded with gut-wrenching examples that defy normality, commonsense, and sanity, especially for a country that uses “In God We Trust” as its motto — though certainly, the citizens of other nations are feeling this as well. So much has changed — and so quickly. The onslaught against faith overwhelms us. If you feel discouraged, you are not alone. But, in God we also find hope.
The Biblical story of Joseph provides such encouragement. It wasn’t fair Joseph’s brothers sold him into slavery. It wasn’t fair Potiphar’s wife falsely accused him of immorality. It wasn’t fair he spent years in prison for things he did not do.
Did Joseph ever think, “I’ve been treated unjustly; none of this is fair”? How could he not? We are kidding ourselves if we think Joseph never felt overwhelmed and discouraged. But, did he dwell on the unfairness and injustice? Joseph’s actions demonstrate he kept focused on God. How? “By faith.” Hebrews 11 provides a historical recap of Biblical heroes — like Joseph — choosing to act faithfully despite their circumstances. In fact, the phrase “by faith” is repeated 21 times by the author of Hebrews. I think God was trying to tell us something!
(Realizing life is busy, and folks may not have time to read through Hebrews 11, I added some encouraging verses from Hebrews 11 and other Biblical references in the below.)
Back to Joseph’s story — despite absolute unfairness and injustice, Joseph steadfastly rooted his “faith [in] the assurance of things hoped for, [and] the conviction of things not seen.” (Hebrews 11:1) And, Joseph confidently knew God would never leave him. After each injustice, the Bible reiterates “the Lord was with Joseph,” and “the Lord caused all that [Joseph] did to succeed,” for “in all things, God works for the good of those who love Him.” (Genesis 39:2-3, 21, 23, Romans 8:28)
“By faith,” Joseph knew that although many “intended to harm” him, “God intended it for good to accomplish…the saving of many lives” from a severe famine. (Genesis 50:20) Ultimately, God made Joseph second in command to Pharaoh and enabled him to save an entire nation, his people, and his entire family — from whom Jesus would descend.
As I pondered Joseph, I thought of a modern-day story of unfairness that also proves God’s redemptive providence. In the 1972 Munich Olympics, U.S. runner Jim Ryun was favored to win the gold medal. But, someone tripped him during the race. Then, the International Olympic Committee refused to reinstate him, even though they knew he had been fouled. He and his wife, Anne, had become Christians shortly before the events of 1972. So, how did Jim and Anne respond? Anne Ryun told me the injustice encouraged them to grow deeper in their spiritual walk with God while practicing the principle of forgiveness. Jim Ryun wrote in 2016, that rather than an end, Munich became “the beginning of our lives.”
The above words of Genesis 50:20 repeated themselves for Jim Ryun. God turned the 1972 injustices into “good” by giving Jim Ryun a larger platform to “accomplish…the saving of many lives” for God’s Kingdom — more than a gold medal would have provided. Many watched as Jim Ryun served — with integrity (so surprising in today’s political world) — in the U.S. House of Representatives. Jim and Anne established the Jim Ryun Running Camp, and 45 years later, it has impacted thousands of young athletes with this truth: “God loves you and has a plan for your life.”
In July 2020, President Trump presented Jim Ryun with the Presidential Medal of Freedom. His response sounded like Joseph’s so long ago. Jim Ryun reminded the audience and television viewers: “To God be the glory. Great things He had done. This is the Lord’s doing, and it’s marvelous in His eyes.”
Based on current events, it will not be long before we are again discouraged by another news cycle describing yet more unfairness and injustice. Dear reader, let your faith be fortified by the above Old Testament and modern-day reminders. Take comfort that “righteousness and justice are the foundation of [God’s] throne.” Turn off the news, spend time with family, do something enjoyable, and “trust in the Lord with all your heart,” because “God our Savior” still “reigns” and “daily bears our burdens.” (Verses from Psalm 97:1-2, Proverbs 3:5, Psalm 68:19)
Pope St. John Paul, II, no stranger to overwhelming trials in his own life, gave us these uplifting words: “Ours is the gigantic task of overcoming all evil with good, always trying amidst the problems of life to place your trust in God, knowing that His grace supplies strength to human weakness.”
A time will come when we look back at the onslaught of unfairness and injustice and say: “You intended to harm [us], but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done.” We hope we see fairness and justice sooner than later. But, in the words of St. Paul in Romans, we can be sure that our Almighty God — in His perfect timing — will reach through the murkiness and evil to bring about good purposes for His beloved children. We will then rejoice with these words and tell our children: “To God be the Glory. Great things He has done!”.
In the meantime, let’s continue to pray for our families and for our nations, for St. James reminds us “the prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.”
Hilary F. Collins lives in northern Virginia where she and her family attend a Catholic Church in the Arlington Diocese. She is a homeschooling mom. Along with her husband, they strive to instill Godly knowledge and faithful fortitude in their child.