Waiting in the Crucible
Sometimes justice served is better late than never. It’s been a long wait for several families affected by the contaminated water at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. The passage of the PACT Act (Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics) on August 3, 2022 should provide the justice they have sought for decades.
The Navy engineers who designed the layout of the Marine base in 1942 relied on a shallow aquifer for their water supply. Several chemical pollutants contaminated that aquifer, slowly poisoning the base inhabitants, especially the children born at the base.
Mike Partain is one of those children. When he was diagnosed with male breast cancer, he discovered the link between his diagnosis and the Camp Lejeune pollution.
His journey led him to join an advocacy group for the estimated 1 million affected Marines and their family members, and then to pursue a Master’s Degree in history at the University of Central Florida. His thesis focused on the work of the advocacy group, and that research aided their pursuit of justice.
“This bill represents justice. … It restores our rights,” reflects Partain. “History is not just a passive discipline. It is active and living and can help guide us to accomplish good in the world.”
After years of advances and setbacks, the PACT Act will finally allow those affected to seek compensatory damages. Their patient wait and diligent work is now paying off.
Scripture shows repeatedly that God is patient. Justice belongs to God, and justice will be served when the time is right. In the meantime, God instructs us to be patient in our own pursuit of justice. We should actively work to alleviate the sufferings of others, but even our righteous anger must be tempered by patient endurance.
James 5:7 advises us to be patient in the face of suffering, and that justice will come at the Second Coming. Will we never see an end to our suffering in this life? Waiting patiently while living in the crucible of suffering demands an almost superhuman discipline on our part.
Fortunately, that extra helping of patience is available to us in the presence of God’s Holy Spirit. Patience in the face of suffering and injustice is one of the fruits of the Spirit.
It helps to know, however, that even God’s patience has limits. When Paul instructs us in Romans 12:19 to resist taking revenge, we read, “‘It is mine to avenge; I will repay,’ says the Lord.” Clinging to faith in that promise can help sustain us while we wait in the crucible.
Connecting: What helps you deal with the frustrations of long wait times?
Sharing: When I see injustice in the world I:
- Jump into action
- Wait to see if others will jump into action, then I will join them
- Wait to see if others will jump into action so I don’t have to
- Examine all of the facts and details of the case, and then I can have the best chance of success when I do act on the injustice
- Live a pretty sheltered life, so I’m rarely exposed to injustice
Applying: Is there a cause for action to relieve suffering or reverse injustice in your community? What can you realistically contribute to that cause? Do some research this week to see how you can help alleviate the situation.