One news article I read this week left me greatly disturbed. In fact, it was so horrific that I couldn’t bear to finish it. It was the story of a Myanmar helper who had died after being tortured and abused by her employer. The employer this week pleaded guilty and is now awaiting sentencing by the judge.
The gruesome details of the abuse left me so nauseated that I had to stop reading the article halfway. I couldn’t help but wonder: How could a person be so cruel? Why did the poor woman have to suffer and die like this? How can we as a society and nation prevent this from happening again?
Sadly, this story of abuse is not the first. And it certainly won’t be the last. Man’s cruelty to man has existed as long as we have existed, for sin entered God’s paradise soon after He created the first human beings.
No wonder the Teacher wrote—almost as matter of fact—that: “If you see the poor oppressed in a district, and justice and rights denied, do not be surprised at such things” (Ecclesiastes 5:8).
Much as I would like to see justice carried out on this earth—to know that those who oppress will be punished, and those who are oppressed will be saved—sadly, I know that it will not always happen. I can only trust that somehow, God will bring justice in His time and His way.
But until that happens, what can we as Christians do? What part can we play in showing the world God’s love and compassion for the oppressed?
Some have taken up the cause of domestic workers and migrant workers, to push for changes in laws and policies to give them better protection and care. Some have started services like shelters and soup kitchens. It is truly heartening to see that there are people who care and who are ready to go out of their way to help to help this “invisible” group in our society.
But I believe that each and every one of us can also make a difference, even in the smallest way.
We could make special efforts to be polite and respectful to them, to show them that in God’s eyes and ours, they are equally loved. We could thank them for their work just as we thank anyone else, to show godly gratitude. We could be patient with them, to show them a measure of God’s grace. We could buy them a meal and give them gifts, to show them a glimpse of God’s provision. And we could be ready to stand up for them and help them, if we spot any possible signs of abuse or ill-treatment, for our God is a protector of the downtrodden and the oppressed.
May we heed Isaiah’s call to seek to do good even as the Holy Spirit moulds us into followers who reflect God’s heart:
Learn to do right; seek justice.
Defend the oppressed.
Take up the cause of the fatherless;
plead the case of the widow.
Father, open my eyes
to the needs of the downtrodden
and oppressed people around me,
and open my heart to show them
Your love and compassion.