It’s been an interesting morning. I just finished reading Jeremiah’s surprisingly bold words in Jeremiah 12:1, “You are always righteous, O Lord, when I bring a case before you. Yet I would speak with you about your justice: Why does the way of the wicked prosper? Why do all the faithless live at ease?”
A flea shakes its fist at a category 5 hurricane.
Initially, I wanted to be shocked at Jeremiah’s taking God to task on His style and timing of meting out justice until I began to hear the faint echoes of every time I’ve ever cried, “WHY God?? WHY?? Why him? Why her? Why ME? How could you let that happen??”
While still musing over this striking passage, I noticed an email had come in from Biblica.com, with an utterly horrifying story of persecution and a request for help to send Bibles and aid to those believers suffering unspeakably in Muslim countries (go here to see the story). The base depravity of the story sickened me, and I began to imagine my own special brew of particularly fitting justice for the perpetrators. It actually made me smile. Then I heard the gentle voice of the Holy Spirit asking me if I have ever used my tongue to hurt another person. Hmmm. We both know the answer to that question. Based on my new prescription for justice which I had freshly concocted, I should now be going through life without a tongue or a brain.
But God – be reasonable!!
Actually, He was. Justice is so very reasonable. I recalled the rest of Jeremiah 12 – God answers Jeremiah’s complaint, but interestingly, He begins to talk about Jeremiah’s own household first. “Your brothers, your own family – ” (vs. 6). Then He talks about His own people, and THEN He addresses the wicked. We want Him to START with the wicked, not expose our sinfulness when we demand a pound of flesh from someone else, right?
Didn’t Jesus say something similar? Something about a log in my eye and a speck in someone else’s? We tend to want mercy for our cherished logs (if we even acknowledge their existence) but unwaveringly insist on justice for the unacceptable specks of others.
Perhaps we shouldn’t be quite so quick to demand that justice be dispensed and be quicker to ask for mercy, since every one of us would suffer alike if we all received what we deserved.
In the meantime, we can pray for this world, for the suffering, and also for those so ensnared by the power of darkness that they have become instruments of evil. Oh, there will be justice done, God will see to that. His incredible mercy and His unapologetic justice are perfectly balanced in the perfection of His nature. One day soon, EVERY knee will bow before the Risen Lord, and evil will be vanquished forever. We can rest in that. The great news is, we aren’t in charge of making that happen. That job is too big for you or for me. We can leave it in God’s capable hands, and trust that at the end of the story, there really IS a happily ever after for those who have given and received mercy. Thank God for that!!