Anne, my wife, drives a Toyota Prius that has a unique design flaw.  Though we’ve been driving this car since 2007, we didn’t learn about this flaw until much more recently.  Here’s the flaw: the catalytic converter, an integral part attached to its exhaust system, is both very valuable and very accessible to thieves.  Here’s how we discovered the flaw: three times in the past seven months, this part has been stolen off the car as it was parked in the parking lot where she works.  Each time this has happened we’ve had to file an insurance claim and have the car repaired, at great expense ($3000-$5000).  Thanks to our insurance, the cost to us: a $500 deductible (per occurrence) and a major inconvenience.

To steal the part, the thief just has to jack up one side of the car, crawl under it with an electric saw and cut it out from the exhaust line.  The police tell us it probably takes less than two minutes.  For their efforts, they have a part that can either be stripped of valuable heavy metals (like platinum and palladium) or resold intact on the now booming market for used catalytic converters for late model Toyota Priuses just like ours.

This is the story that popped into my brain when I re-read the verses from Isaiah 61:1-11 that were chosen to compliment the third of our three-Sunday series “For the Fruit of All Creation.”  This is the week when we consider how God’s love for us gives us the ability to love one another.  In particular, I’m struck by verse 8:

“For I the Lord love justice, I hate robbery and wrongdoing;
I will faithfully give them their recompense, 
and I will make an everlasting covenant with them.”

God is on the side of the victims, not the evil-doers and there is comfort to be found for those who, like Anne and me, have been victimized.  And God will make things right because God’s promises deliver hope to victims like us.  At least that’s what I want to believe.  

Except maybe it’s not so simple.  Maybe the person who keeps stealing that part off of our car has been a victim too.  Maybe, those who might resort to this kind of thievery, do so because the options to get by in this life have become too limited by other and greater forces of oppression like addiction, or systemic poverty, or institutionalized racism.

And if God is on the side of victims, how might God be on the side of a person who has to resort to vandalizing a car, with a known design flaw, sitting out in the open and owned by a couple with good insurance?

I’m with Isaiah.  God has been and will always be on the side of the victim.  Who are the victims?  That’s an altogether different question, and probably not one for me to decide.  Thankfully, God can handle that task.  I’ll be busy looking for a different car to own.

May peace find you this day. – Pastor Peter