How to deal with atrocities
[Psalm 7:11]

By T.C. Howitt

Nov 24, 2016

It’s Thanksgiving, so pilgrims and Native Americans ought to be somewhere in your thoughts. We all have much thanks to give, if we know God, but we also have much that should trouble us.

How are we to respond to atrocities like the trampling of indigenous people and their land, in the past and at this very moment?

Let’s put aside now the method favored by some, which is to reduce or deny outright the crimes themselves. Bigots will hate, and they’ll receive the due penalty of their error. They are among the perpetrators of these ongoing crimes.

Others will face the troubles head on, and I thank God for their common grace.

When examining the problem, I think it can help to break it up into four manageable chunks.

First, it’s important to know the perpetrators.

Second, it’s important to know the victims.

Third, it’s important to know justice.

Fourth, it’s important to know the way to justice.

Without God, we think in human terms about these issues. Speaking in human terms, it was the colonizing invaders, seeking their own selfish needs through takeover, who victimized the innocent native population that was undeserving of such suffering.

As for justice, without God we tend to conclude that justice is relative and conditional based on culture. Just observe how nobody can agree on what constitutes justice in every case. So we depend on a judicial system of manmade courts to make the decisions, and we elect representatives who will appoint the judges who agree with our views.

“There is a way that seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death” (Proverbs 16:25).

So much for man’s wisdom. How is a Christian to respond?

On this Thanksgiving as on every day, we need to pray for all people that the Lord grants them understanding and the strength to endure their struggles. Above all, we need to pray that they come to the saving grace of Christ.

The Bible teaches that none is righteous, no, not one (Romans 3:10). We’re all sinners, we’re all guilty, we’re all perpetrators of crimes against ourselves and God. Further, the wages of sin – the payment we earn through our sinful deeds – is death (Romans 6:23). We bring on our own corruption, and that makes us all victims of our own crimes. None is righteous, no, not even Native Americans.

God is the righteous judge (Psalm 7:11). God has given us His law to follow, but we’re all found wanting. God’s justice must be served, so we need a savior.

In North Dakota, Native American tribes are making their stand to defend sacred lands and the water underneath it from the ravages of industrial greed. The article here seeks to bring these concerns to Americans as they enjoy their bounty this Thanksgiving by pointing out that these foods were all made with water.

But as a Christian, I know that this appeal is severely lacking.

“Jesus answered and said unto her, Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again: but whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life” (John 4:13-14).

Yes, we face real trials in the temporal world involving perpetrators and victims. But when it comes to eternal law and justice, only one name delivers to righteousness.

If you knew the gift of God, and Jesus Christ, you would ask and He would give you living water.