Like so many before us, we deal with many injustices in our daily lives. They’re in the community we live in, our workplaces and our relationships. Sometimes, they are small ones that build up and just make our day unpleasant and put us in a bad mood. Some will be daily nagging from a co-worker who makes work more difficult than it has to be. Some will be jealous people who spread lies and rumours about us.
These moments of unfairness always hit us harder than hardships that arise from our own fault. When we make a mistake and things go wrong, we know we are partly to blame. But when something happens due to the sole mistakes – or even spite – of another person, it hurts so much more if we get caught in the crossfire. This can happen with no apology or compensations for our suffering.
In our outrage and our frustration, we desperately ask,
“Why do I have to deal with this?”.
“What did I do to deserve this?”
Unfortunately, this is no new experience.
Bad things have always happened to people who look to do good in the world. JFK was assassinated, Nelson Mandela was imprisoned for 27 years, Maria Goretti was stabbed 14 times. Jesus was punished for crimes that were not his.
The sufferings of others may not make ours any more justified – but they can remind us that we are not alone.
It’s also the unjust trials that most allow us to become more patient, humble and virtuous. When we face punishment for our own faults, we can find ways of accepting it as being fair (even if it might be harsh). But when we don’t see it as fair, this is when we must most be like Christ and bear it. What’s more, we must bear it with forgiveness in our heart.
And we have to will this forgiveness because it doesn’t come easily.
The world’s fittest athlete may push their body through a gruelling workout, and it might make sense for someone to say, “You don’t deserve this pain! You’re already fit. You’ve already worked so hard to earn the healthy body you have.”
But just as most people know that the athlete must keep pushing themselves to maintain discipline and good health, we must persevere through hardship to develop perseverance and strengthen our ability to forgive and move forward from hurt.
The only difference between us and the athlete is that our discipline has a much greater reward.
Maria Goretti was a wonderful example of practising this to the fullest when she was killed for refusing to do something wrong. In 1902, she died at the age of 11 from 14 stab wounds, but not before she forgave her attacker.
Such a powerful capacity to remain virtuous despite injustice may seem too hard – even impossible – for us. But to truly believe that would be denying our own dignity as human beings.
We too can overcome hardships by forgiving those who inflict them on us.
When you are unsure of how to cope with struggles – seek help! In family, friends, co-workers, spiritual advisors or whoever can provide you direction. Don’t ever assume you are alone in your struggles because even if these people won’t be able to help you – God will.
We will all face injustices throughout life.
Often, they will be small daily sufferings and other times, they will be of a greater magnitude and cost us dearly in time, money or reputation. Some will include cancer, loss of loved ones and moments of feeling like the world is against us.
These are the moments we are closest to the cross where the greatest act of injustice occurred and the greatest reward for humanity was won.
Elise is a first year Medical student in Sydney from rural NSW who enjoys a variety of sports and being outdoors. She also loves food but when it comes to cooking – she claims to burn water.