I’ve spent the better part of the last twenty-five years pleading a case. My office was a courtroom where I arranged facts for a judge so that he or she would ultimately see things my way. Of course, there was usually someone on the other side of the room who arranged the facts differently in the hope that the judge would see things their way instead.
The judge didn’t always see things my way. If I’m being entirely forthright, then I must admit that sometimes my version of the facts wasn’t always the best version. Then, there were other times when I still feel strongly that the judge sided against me wrongly. My facts were better, but justice wasn’t served.
Don’t you feel a little like that when seeking justice in your own circumstances? You are dealing with a cheating spouse. Thieves run off with your car. A “friend” gossips behind your back. A drunk driver hits head on. Where’s the justice?
Like teething tearing through an apple, the pain rips through us. We want justice. We deserve amends.
What is justice? Is justice an “eye for an eye?” Does it mean exacting pain from those who’ve pained us? Yes! Those who’ve hurt us should feel every bit of our anguish . . . and more.
Therein lies the problem. If your sense of justice is like mine, it’s flawed. I’m inclined to dole out judgment much like a Disney character. No, not the one who frolics with woodland creatures and dwarves. The other one. I carry a basket of apples. My sense of justice doesn’t stop with equal or “in-kind.” My limited, human sense of justice wants more. The problem with my limited, human sense of justice is that it also doesn’t know when to stop. How much more? How much is enough? For some injustice, there isn’t enough justice in this world.
When there isn’t enough justice in the world, where do we turn? Where is redress to be found? I know the answer to this question but turning toward perfect justice requires me to hand over my apple basket. I have to relinquish control. I have to trust that God will indeed mete out the “right” sentence. I have to trust God to pick the right apple.
My sentencing becomes entangled with compelling emotions of love and grief. I’m incapable of stepping outside of my passions to weigh the facts. God is not hijacked by feelings the way I am. God is above the tangled emotions of this world. God sees the circumstance both from within and without because while he is present in our world, he is from outside of this world. He can simultaneously know depths and breadths of both love and grief that I simply cannot fathom. God’s love and grief are not saved for me. God also loves those who attack me – just as fully.
Being omniscient, God’s investigation is complete while mine never can be. When you combine God’s ability to know the full story with his power to love the victim and the aggressor equally, you arrive at justice that is different than anything a human court of justice could devise. God’s love may guide his justice; however, it does not control him. God’s anger may influence God’s justice; however, it does not control him. God’s justice is complete. His is exactly what it called for in the circumstance. He never goes too far. He never stops short. God’s justice is perfect and holy.
God always knows exactly which apple to serve.