Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves;
ensure justice for those being crushed.

Yes, speak up for the poor and helpless,
and see that they get justice.

Proverbs 31:8-9 NLT


“Speaking for the poor and helpless.” Is this what God really means? I think we need to be careful and think about that a little.

Not every oppressed or hurting person needs someone to speak for them all the time. Being voiceless should not be considered a permanent state. With support, the “poor and helpless” can grow—in health and in confidence. Perhaps we who live with mental health issues have too many people speaking for us, determining our needs, and not enough of them hearing our voices. Because we do have a voice of our own and we want to be heard.

Too often we’re not considered to have enough ability, credibility and intellect to speak for ourselves. We’re not trusted enough to speak with wisdom. But we understand, better than anyone, what our needs are. We understand, better than anyone, what it’s like to be discriminated against, and we understand what pain that causes. We want to tell our stories. We want to be understood.

Is it our perceived lack of credibility that keeps us from being listened to? Some forget that for most of us our illnesses affect us episodically. The rest of the time, we’re as capable as anyone else to speak our truths.

As Christians, instead of being another’s voice, we should hear their voice. Being a voice for another smacks of the “I know better” attitude that can strip away a person’s self-esteem. They lose the confidence to speak for themselves. And they lose an important part of what it means to be human.


PS: Don’t miss the pieces I’ve been sending you about Lincoln, Gandhi, Mother Teresa and Martin Luther King Jr. They’re not dry history. Throughout their stories I’ve included my own messages specifically designed for you. Here is the series in its entirety

We invite you to contribute. Would you like to tell a few lines of your story? How has your life been affected by discrimination? Please email to marja@marjabergen.com. I may have to edit for brevity, but I’ll let you know.

This has been Part 10 of the series A Voice of One calling. Read Part 11 From my Heart to Yours.