On May 20th, 2016, a man by the name of Joshua Marbury uploaded a post with two accompanying photos onto Facebook that absolutely jarred both my mind and heart.
(The following is an excerpt from the post)
“I normally keep my matter with family very private cause i dont need the attention. But this is different. TWO months ago if not longer my 1 year old son was smacked across the right side of his face by our babysitter to the point where MULTIPLE doctors and the detective said that it could have killed him.”
You read that correctly.
A babysitter, who was trusted with the life and protection of the one year old, unmercifully beat the infant across his face, left him crying on the floor, and then proceeded to take a nap on the couch.
It hurts my heart to even write this to you.
As I read the post, I could not help but be completely shocked at the photos of baby Jacob with his bruised and battered face and body.
After a few half-attempts at lying his way out of it, the babysitter confessed to the abuse and the case immediately went to trial. Sadly, however, after about two months, the charges were dropped.
From Joshua’s post, we see that the charges were dropped “because my one year old cannot tell you verbally he was abused and my son did not show he was in pain or that this person ‘intentionally’ did this.”
There have since been thousands of news outlet articles and stories covering the situation, the original post has been shared over 400,000 times, and #justiceforJacob was top-trending across Facebook, Twitter, and even Instagram.
This is not an opinion-post on the legitimacy of the laws in Oregon, nor is it a click-bait post where the clicks show website-promotive results. Instead, this post is written with the intent of helping us, as a church, sift through the thoughts we all think in moments of shock in what we see, hear, and read in the news.
As humans, we are probably feeling one of three emotions in the midst of something as wretched as this: overwhelming anger, a deep longing for justice, or complete and utter sadness
But how do we deal with these emotions?
Understand this, we are Biblically commanded to be angry (Eph. 4:26). The anger that you may be feeling right now is anger over the mistreatment of God’s creation in a violent and unfair manner. Anger, here, is okay, and dare I say, biblical.
We are Biblically commanded to be slow to anger (James 1:19). We are to be slow in getting to anger. This means that you and I are in the wrong if we feel no anger at all.
If you feel anger over this sin, do not feel as though you are alone or in the wrong. In fact, you are designed by a God who also feels anger over sin too (Mark 3:5).
We SHOULD feel overwhelmingly angry over the blatant disregard for the sanctity of God-given life.
Longing for Justice
The comments on the original post on Facebook are filled with all sorts of outrage and lividity from all sorts of people that are longing for the justice for this little boy. This is not a uniquely Christian characteristic, but it is a Christian characteristic.
We, as Christians, in our anger, should feel a deep-seeded longing for justice. In fact, we are Biblically commanded to “do justice” (Mic. 6:8). If we are to live a lifestyle of justice, we have to not only understand justice, but value it as well.
When we feel as though the babysitter should be jailed or charged for this gross injustice, we are right in doing so.
We SHOULD long for justice for the oppressed.
We must understand that we live in a sin-cursed world among fallen creatures where beatings and mistreatment of people of all ages happen every single day. It is right to feel sadness over sin and to feel heartbreak for Jacob.
We SHOULD feel a sense of sadness for the abuse of others.
But what do we do about it?
“I feel all of these things: I am overwhelmingly angry, I long deeply for justice here, and I am in tears just thinking about a baby being abused… But what do I do? What can I do?”
Brothers and sisters, we pray.
We pray for Jacob and his safety. We pray for the heart of his parents and the anxiety they surely must be feeling over the lack of justice for their baby. We pray for the babysitter, that he may repent of his wrongdoing and truly see his sin for what it is and what it has done to the family. We pray that Jesus may redeem this situation and bring about righteousness and salvation. We pray that God may protect our own babies. We pray that God may take care of all of his creation, especially those abused.
We must pray expectantly for God to move in the hearts of all affected by this story, that lives may be transformed through this, that God may be glorified in it, and that God would give peace and protection to those we know not of.
And brothers and sisters, we act.
We cannot prevent violence from happening but we can be one who acts in love. It is the act of love by those who love God the Bible says will overcome the evil we see around us (Rom 12:21). But we have hope.
We have hope in God who sees all unrighteousness and injustice and has compassion on those afflicted. We have hope in God who has given us justice and righteousness by pouring out His wrath against all wrongdoing on His Son. We have a hope in One who was beaten and abused for us. We have hope in a kingdom one day that will have no such thing.
We have hope because God will bring every deed to judgment (Eccl. 12:14).
So even if a human court does not render justice, God will see to it himself.
Jesus was the complete satiation of injustices past, present, and future and He is the fulfillment of every longing past present and future.
I feel a deep sorrow for baby Jacob. But I feel an even deeper hope in a God who has redeemed even worse of situations and turned them for the joy of his people and the glory of his name.
May our prayer be that of the last words written in the Word of God:
“Come, Lord Jesus” (Rev. 22:20).
– Jacob Simmons, Family Pastor