My youngest daughter started fifth grade with a teacher who was… sick. Each school year she would choose some students to be her ‘pets’, upon whom she would heap praise, affirmation and recognition, and another group whom she would belittle, demean, and embarrass. For whatever reason she put my daughter in the latter group, so before long I was watching my child crumble under what really amounted to mental, emotional, and verbal abuse.
I pleaded with the teacher, the principal, and even the District’s school board, to no avail. Powerless and desperate, I picketed the school, and the parade route of the annual town festival, discovering there were many other children and parents who knew about, or had experienced the same abuse but also felt powerless.
At that time I was already going through a season where I was feeling deeply disappointed in God because of what I perceived as His failure to ‘fight for me’ when life was… just beating me up. Let’s just say it was not love for Jesus that kept me from giving in to the desire to “tear this woman up”.
An honest look into my heart revealed deep pain, righteous anger, and a NEED for justice; but MY kind of justice… to inflict as much pain as possible on this ‘wicked’ woman. But because I did not want to go to jail, I needed God to put the ‘hit’ out for me. Pain for pain!
“The human heart is the most deceitful of all things, and desperately wicked. Who really knows how bad it is? But I, the LORD, search all hearts and examine secret motives. I give all people their due rewards, according to what their actions deserve.” Jeremiah 17:9-10
So understand there is a reason these days feel so familiar to me. Every waking hour being bombarded by information “lobbying” me to be offended by something, or to hate somebody; white people, law enforcement, liberals, conservatives, democrats, republicans… and if I am not constantly stirring up painful memories to make me angry enough to spew cleverly-disguised hate… well there is a label for me too!
But back then I learned some things about God’s justice that saved me from destroying my life, and still protect my heart today. First, God’s commands me to be just and to seek justice, especially on behalf of the powerless. But how, God?!?!
Speak and behave in accordance with all of GOD’S Word… to all and sundry… without fear or favor… in LOVE! (Ephesians 4:15). And when love feels too impractical or lofty a goal, I still must speak HIS truth with passion, humility, and respect, leaving people with their dignity, itself an act of love which can only be engineered in me by God Himself through the power of the Holy Spirit. Help! Jesus!
Second, there exists a spiritual law God has woven into the very fabric of human relationships. It is the law of the harvest:
“Don’t be misled – you cannot mock the justice of God. You will ALWAYS harvest what you plant.” Galatians 6:7 (Emphasis mine).
Finally, as Jamaicans would say, “Nuhbaddi naah get weh wid nutten!” The ultimate outpouring of the complete justice and wrath of God is SO SURE, Jesus had to die to open THE ONE WAY of escape from destruction, in this life and for eternity.
“Listen! The Lord is coming with countless numbers of his holy ones to execute judgment on the people of the world. He will convict EVERY person of ALL the ungodly things they have done and for ALL the insults that ungodly sinners have spoken against him.” Jude 14b – 15 (Emphasis mine).
Back then it felt like abject failure when I had to pull my daughter out and put her in a new school. There was no relief from the turmoil raging in my heart that made me physically ill. Then God gave me a clear choice:
Believe He IS a God of perfect justice to be freed and completely healed, or keep demanding my version of justice and let the enemy gleefully destroy me. I still choose to trust God’s justice, mercy, and grace. The freedom from rage was immediate, my relationship with God better than ever, and healing from pain continues to this day.
“My child, pay attention to what I say. Listen carefully to my words. Don’t lose sight of them. Let them penetrate deep into your heart, for they bring life to those who find them, and healing to their whole body. Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life. ” Proverbs 4:20-23
Yeah… I’m going to do that.