Oppress – abuse, afflict, burden, crush, depress, dispirit, harass, lie heavy on, mistreat, overwhelm, persecute, sadden, subdue, suppress, torment, trample, and weigh heavy
I am in the midst of an oppression of sorts. I have been challenged personally and professionally more in the last few weeks than I have ever been in my life. A series of different circumstances have arisen all in a very short time which have questioned my integrity, professional judgement, and personal safety. Obviously, I cannot discuss details of any of these except to say that I feel attacked and helpless. I examine myself over and over, searching my methods, my motives, wondering if I have been careless or misguided. After some very thorough introspection, I do not think that I have. I am innocent. Even so, I consider how I could have communicated better, spoken more clearly, asked more questions, glimpsed the nuances of tone and body language. I feel I have failed somehow. This burdens me.
These professional struggles arrived as we wait for the final step in the adoption of our son, a child who is already legally my own but still lives in an orphanage in Africa. I ache over him constantly. I am the mother of a child whom I have never met, who grows older week by week, and I am helpless. There is nothing that I can do to bring him home. There are other challenges as well, relational problems among friends (that I somehow feel personally responsible for), family members with deteriorating health and crumbling marriages.
Daily, I feel a physical and tangible weight, a heaviness pressing down, as if the Earth’s pull has somehow strengthened and caused the atmosphere to thicken. The physician in me checks lists of depressive symptoms, reaching for some self-diagnosis and clarity. I am not depressed. I am oppressed. The Bible is clear that I have an enemy, and because my enemy has already lost my soul, he will settle for destroying everything else. There is a great war that I cannot see, but I can feel it. So I pray that my eyes will be opened, that I might be alert. I pray for conviction when I have caused my own troubles. I pray for clarity, for compassion, for forgiveness. I ask God to make me better than I am. I ask him to give me grace and peace. I ask others to pray.
I feel silly talking about this oppression, which I know is only momentary, an inconvenience, a time to be brought low, when I know that so many others experience oppression that I know nothing about. There are thousands of young women (children really) forced into prostitution, raped dozens of times every day, some sold by their own parents into brothels where they inherit disease and disgrace. There are places where children not old enough to attend school are captured by radical armies and taught to murder their families and their neighbors. They know nothing except brutality. Billions of people spend hours each day just searching for enough food and water to survive. I have never worried for water. I have never ached for food. I have never been enslaved or violated.
I am foolish, reeking of arrogance again, worried about all these momentary things when God is able. His promise is redemption. I am so blessed. The weight and the wait remain with me, but I remember my husband who brings me water whenever I ask and massages my head when I have thought too hard. I remember my daughter who loves my singing and pats my cheek and offers her puckered pink lips for kisses over and over. I remember diagnoses-found, when lives have been saved and mothers have been comforted. I remember friends who pray, who send me text-messages to encourage me on hard days. I remember my mother, who prays long for her daughter, who inserts my name into the scriptures that she reads and speaks blessings over me. I am bowed low before my Lord, unworthy of all this grace.
“The righteous cries out and the Lord hears them; he delivers them from all their troubles. The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” Psalm 34:17-18