Then I looked again and considered all the acts of oppression that were being practiced under the sun. And behold I saw the tears of the oppressed and they had no one to comfort them; and on the side of their oppressors was power, but they had no one to comfort them. So I congratulated and thought more fortunate are those who are already dead than the living who are still living. But better off than either of them is the one who has not yet been born, who has not seen the evil deeds that are done under the sun.
Growing up, the other kids teased her about living in a fantasy world. She was raised in a wealthy area, but her family was by far the wealthiest. Her childhood was marked by servants, horses and extravagant vacations. She eventually began to internalize these comments about living in a bubble and not in the real world. Her world indeed was free from oppression and hardship, but that would change once she grew old enough to learn some of the family business. It was then that the real world infiltrated her life. The business was one in which the laborers had to sacrifice more than their share for the company to succeed. Long hours and meager wages would take their toll, and she could see it in the workers once she came face-to-face with them. That is when she realized that someone had to be at the bottom for them to be at the top.
Oppression is the result of the fallen state of this world. God’s instruction for a holy life tells us to seek to be last and not first. This approach leads us to work to lift others. It does not mean that we forego seeking success in life, but it does mean that we will not do so at the expense of keeping others back. There is a shrewdness that is practiced with godly wisdom, and there is a shrewdness that is practiced with self-service and egotism. The latter kind is borne out of the fear of losing, and it is one of the building blocks of oppression. Without God’s intervention, that is simply how this world will work in its fallen state. This should not surprise us, but it should serve as a call to arms in our spiritual warfare. We have been given the right and the honor of interceding on behalf of those who are oppressed. Seeing the state of the world around us should create in us a desire to contend on their behalf.
This is an unforgiving world. The oppressed will not find comfort in a system designed to keep them in that low place. Their comfort will come through Jesus Christ, who will give them peace in the midst of whatever circumstances they endure. He also provides a way to the Father so that we can intercede on their behalf. It is not God’s design for us to step over each other to reach some man-made idea of “the top.” That is a pedestal from which everyone will fall. As disconcerting as the world’s oppression is, we should not let it cause us to be disillusioned or depressed. We should let it increase in us our desire to fight against it with the tools God has given us. Father, give us hearts that contend for the relief of the oppressed and hands that work to raise them.