By Jim Johnson
I’ve been thinking a lot about justice lately. Mainly because of the circumstances in my life over the last year. To be honest, it has probably been the hardest year of our lives, and the tough times tend to make you think deeply about lots of things, not just the pain you are going through at present.
The short background includes the death of a parent, a pipe breaking in the house, four months in hotels and rental houses and trusting a contractor that went horribly wrong. This ended with us having to wipe out just about all our emergency fund. Throw in some extended family drama including a shotgun wedding, spending the holidays trapping mice in someone else’s house with a borrowed Christmas tree and you have the makings of an unforgettable year. I had one friend say, “I’m afraid to ask how you are doing because you seem to have some new drama every time we talk.”
One of the more difficult parts was that this contractor took us to arbitration. We have never been through that before and nothing went our way. To make a very long story short, the arbitrator believed everything the contractor said and believed nothing we said. Our integrity was trampled on. We were crushed, confused and baffled. It was more difficult than I thought having someone with legal authority basically call us liars, with the added insult of forcing us to pay lots of money on top of all that.
During this whole process, we witnessed the church and our friends be very supportive. Don’t know how many people were praying over the whole situation, but it was an army. We were cared for in so many ways. A true and Christ-honoring display of everything great about our Lord.
Which brings me to one of my favorite verses, Jeremiah 9:23-24 which says,
Thus says the Lord, let not a wise man boast of his wisdom, and let not the mighty man boast of his might, let not a rich man boast of his riches; but let him who boasts boast of this, that he understands and knows Me, that I am the Lord who exercises lovingkindness, justice and righteousness on earth; for I delight in these things.
I have always loved the challenge of striving for a humble character and that any type of boasting would be understanding and knowing the Lord.
But after this year, the word “justice” jumped out like never before. We have a God who exercises and delights in justice. So the big question is… why did we have the year we did? Why didn’t the Lord honor all those prayers for justice? Why did He allow the lies, the integrity-smearing and unfairness? Why did He allow on top of all that to have our bank account drained, all because of this injustice? If He delights and exercises justice, this can be maddeningly frustrating and can make absolutely no sense.
I am not unique in experiencing injustice in this life. What comes into your mind about the injustices you’ve faced? Are you in the midst of one of those times now? Has it felt like a lifetime?
I don’t have all the answers to these difficult questions, but I have learned many great things through these circumstances. I am reminded that we live in a fallen world. We will experience pain and injustice. I don’t know the exact reason why the Lord chose to have us go through all of this, but I do know that He uses not only the good parts of life, but also the bad (and unjust parts) to teach us lessons we may have never learned, or learned, as well. I am thankful for that.
I learned that the church is a great comfort. Friends will stand by you, pray for you, weep with you. I’ve learned that all that I have is the Lord’s (money most especially). If He chooses to take it away for a time or forever, that is ok. He owns it anyway. I’ve learned that even when an injustice is committed against me, whether it be something big or small, if I react as the world would, I loose the opportunity to show His character that we all so desperately need to see. If I can do that, not only do those around us benefit, but so do I, as my character gets changed to be just a tiny bit more like His.
His words play out in real life when we can experience and learn though injustices so that we actually can consider it all joy when you encounter various trials, knowing the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing (James 1:2-4).
But even more poignant are the words from Romans 8:18. For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us. That puts it all in perspective. The right and proper perspective.
If you happen to be in one of those stages of life you’d like to forget, don’t. Instead, think deeply on Romans 8:18. Christ will be honored. Your character will be molded to be more like His. What could be better than that?