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Lenten Devotional by Elizabeth Lester (T’14)

This Lent, a member of the Duke Presbyterian Campus Ministry will be sharing a devotion each week.   Our focus this Lent is around what it means to “take up your cross” and follow Jesus. The Lenten journey is a time of contemplation around how our faith compels us to come to know Christ more fully and to be a faithful disciple, so our devotions all center around the question: How does your faith compel you to respond with justice and love in the world?

 Devotional for the First Week of Lent

“Here is my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen, in whom my soul delights;

I have put my spirit upon him; He will bring forth justice to the nations.

He will not cry or lift his voice, or make it heard in the street;

A bruised reed he will not break, and a dimly burning wick he will not quench

He will faithfully bring forth justice.

He will not grow faint or be crushed until he has established justice in the earth;

And the coastlands wait for his teaching.”

–Isaiah 42:1-4

elizabethI have known I wanted to be a lawyer since I was 8 years old, so I guess justice has always kind of been my “thing”.  Now here I am at Duke where every overachieving ambitious college student has plans to save the world.  Everyone here has a type of justice they’re seeking to achieve somehow whether that is in the form of human rights work, law, ministry, medicine, social work or, yes, even I-banking (I think.)  The thing is that history and reality has taught us that no matter how hard you try, no matter how much of your life you dedicate to these above areas, it is nearly impossible to actually achieve justice.  On top of that how do any of us even know what justice is?  Is it doing right?  Is it upholding the law?  And more importantly is it possible for justice for one to be injustice for another?

I read these verses from Isaiah and I realize that it is none of these things.  I have come to realize we find justice in the servant of God mentioned above, Christ.  This is Christ, a human, with the Spirit of God upon him.  And he did come to bring justice to the nations just as the prophet foretold.  However, looking around us today it can be hard to see that justice of the nations.  We have become numbed by senseless death in schools and on the streets due to terrible gun violence.  We have been inundated with so many reports of uprisings and violence in the Middle East that we have come to accept that many die and lose their loved ones every day and that this is just part of life over there.  We have allowed the false notion that many around us are unable to be with the ones they love to remain a reality.  Where is the justice that was brought to the nations in these places?  Where is the justice in our world now, in our daily lives and struggles?

I think that justice is right where Isaiah says it is in this passage.  It is with Christ; it is in Christ.  And he is in the midst of the injustice.  Even now, after all of this time he is still among the injustice and “he will not grow faint or be crushed until he has established justice in the earth.”  My faith in this allows me and compels me to respond with justice and love in this broken world.  Even when my faith is weak and hope is slim, this is something I can hold on to.  As we begin the Lenten season this is something that I hold on to for I know that over the coming weeks the injustice of everything, most importantly the injustice of Jesus’ death, will be at times too much to bear.  But it is a load that Jesus bore and still bears for us every day.

As I continue to try to be a lawyer it is important for me to realize that I will never bring about justice.  That is something I have to remind myself on this campus every day.  I know that I cannot achieve justice because justice is Jesus Christ.  It is only through God that justice is achieved.  The task of justice can seem daunting and an inevitable failure, but armed with faith I can try every day to understand more and more that there is justice in Christ.  This doesn’t mean that I am going to give up trying to fight injustice and hoping to be a lawyer just because I know that it is ultimately God from whom justice comes.  It means that it is my faith in God, Christ, and the Holy Spirit, and not my education or potential future legal training that I can and always will be able to rely on for knowing how to act among the brokenness.  And that leads me to try and respond with justice and love as I go out in the world.


O Lord,

As we embark on our Lenten journeys ahead of us and remember the ultimate injustice of your son’s crucifixion, help us to remember that in sending your son to die for our broken selves you brought justice out of the unjust.  Lead us to use our faith to serve with justice and love in our world, every day, no matter how daunting the task or helpless we feel.  We pray this in your Son’s name,


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