And put on the breastplate of righteousness (Eph 6:14b)
Life is not only hard, it can be downright unfair. Many of us have had to live through tragedy, like a sudden death in the family or a cancer diagnosis. Certainly, in the midst of this pandemic, we all know someone (or, more likely, several people) who have experienced overwhelming disappointments: graduations and weddings postponed or cancelled; financial stress, unemployment, and hunger; the inability to visit loved ones who are sick, lonely, or far away. As a nation, a society, and even a church, we are confronting our role in the sin and injustice of racism. Every day, we fight against tragedy and pain and inequality. Every day, because life is hard and unfair, our hearts break a little or a lot for all the disappointment, despair, and grief in our own lives and in the world.
The first piece of armor we put on was the belt of truth to remind us who we are and to whom we belong. This knowledge of our identity as God’s beloved creation is one piece of protection against this hard and painful life. Today, we are told to put on the “breastplate of righteousness.” This is not human justice, which so often gets things wrong. This is the righteousness of God. The justice of God is so much more than human standards of fairness or equity. The justice of God is about what is right and just and fair in God’s eyes and it is about trusting in God to guide us to right action. Our actions of justice should come from our faith in him.
And when we put on our breastplate of God’s righteousness, we are protecting our already bruised and wounded hearts. We are putting our trust in God’s sovereignty to cover and hold our hurts and our fears and our pain. We are putting our trust in God to give us the strength and courage to face the unfairness of life, knowing that his love, his mercy, and his compassion are the protection and the salve for our broken hearts. “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted, saves those whose spirit is crushed” (Ps 34:18), he “heals the brokenhearted, binds up their wounds” (Ps 147: 3). May we put on the breastplate of righteousness with the trust that we have protection and comfort in the God who loves us, who saves us, who heals us of the pain and unfairness of this world.