I previously shared my personal story of experiencing theft, death, and yet another injustice. When we think of injustice, we imagine innocents being robbed, violence against others, and irresponsible behavior that creates victims. For most, we tend to seek out what is just, fair, moral, and responsible. Yet, there are times when we don’t see justice served. We can feel betrayed, alone, rejected, devalued, and discouraged. These feelings can turn into bitterness, resentment, anger, and even hatred, if gone unchecked.
Life is not always fair, yet, in the end, are we not responsible for our response to life?
I encourage you to read the first part of this story before going any further, When Hurt Turns to Hatred. To get the full picture there are details you will need.
I was not in a good place when God shared with me His word that directly ministered to my frustration and hatred toward those that had robbed my grandparents. I couldn’t believe that people could be so cruel, so manipulating, and deceptive. But sin is sin, no matter what it looks like. My hatred created sin in my life as it robbed me of God’s blessings and promoted destructive thinking.
God spoke to my condition: Ephesians 4:31-32, “Get rid of all bitterness, rage, and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”
I was reminded of old Jennifer before I asked Jesus to be my friend and Savior. Like a clip from a movie, God showed me some old scenes of my life and how I was caught up in making bad choices because I wanted to be liked, accepted, and loved. He also showed me that the sins of those two men were no different than mine. They were weak like I was, insecure like I was, and desperate like I was. Sin may show itself differently but what drives us to sin is very common.
My husband and I were preparing to sell my grandmother’s home, so we had scheduled a carpet cleaner to come. As I opened the door and introduced myself, the young man seemed a bit hesitant to come in. I asked him if he was okay, and he answered, ” You may not remember me, but my family knew your grandmother. Do you remember my father..” and he gave his name. A name that I had repeated many times with venom. The name of the man that had robbed many elderly of their savings, including my grandmother.
What was I to do? How is this happening? “God, I need you NOW!” The young man continued, “I don’t know if you want me to come in after what my father did your family.” I responded not even realizing what I was saying, “Please come in and let’s talk…” This young man was burdened with the shame of his father’s actions. It had destroyed his career as a very successful real estate broker and nearly took his marriage. He shared that his mother left his father immediately as the FBI had ceased all of their assets and left them nothing. All of his children turned their back on him, and the family did not acknowledge him. This young man chose to move his father in with him; after the humiliation he had caused the family, and supporting his family and father by cleaning carpets.
Justice? My heart was broken for this family. The sins of the father had filtered into grave consequences for his children. Yet, somehow, this young man found the mercy and grace to love his father despite the wrongs he had committed. In that moment the Holy Spirit prompted me, taking his hand, I was compelled to say, “I want you and your dad to know that I forgive him. I pray that he knows how much God loves him and wants to heal his life.” As if the weight of the world had been removed from my shoulders and his, holding back the tears, he mustered up a gracious thank you.
Justice doesn’t always come in the form of legal retribution or an eye for an eye. Justice is a voice in the wilderness that speaks up for the fatherless. Justice is defending the weak, showing loving kindness to the weighed down by life, and being humble in the face of opposition (Micah 6:8). How are we to know what the proper punishment is for every wrong committed unless we see the heart of man as God does?
James 4:12, “There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the One who is able to save and to destroy; but who are you who judge your neighbor?”
I can’t imagine what the conversation was when this young man returned home to his father and shared his day. I do know that it was one of the most challenging and liberating days I had experienced.
In reflecting on that time, I learned so much from God. The enemy is constantly at work to rob us of every opportunity to be His Light in this world. I put my armor on daily now, remembering that LOVE is the greatest ministry. I choose to forgive and live in God’s freedom rather than be bound in the chains of hatred. Rather than living with hate, I chose to love the living.