September 8, 2012. That was the night that Brandon Bushmire’s life was forever changed. It was 11:20 pm and Brandon, a 20-year old college student had just stepped off of the curb (near our ministry center) onto a street with a posted speed limit of only 25 mph. Suddenly a speeding car knocked Brandon to the ground causing severe brain trauma. He almost died.
After more than a year in the hospital, six surgeries, a 3-week coma, and $2,000,000.00 in medical expenses, Brandon is ready to go home—sort of. Confined to a wheel chair and possessing the mental capacity of a young teenager, Brandon struggles to even function on a daily basis. And so do his caregivers. None of their lives will ever be the same.
One might think that the driver of that speeding vehicle—who had drugs in his car on top of having a .107 blood alcohol level—would have been severely penalized for his actions. How does 48 hours in jail, $700 in fines, $13,499 in restitution, and the completion of an alcohol highway safety program sound? It just doesn’t seem right.
My goal is not to plead a case for a severe judgment on the driver, but to point out the fact that our broken world is full of injustice. On a daily basis, all across the globe, people suffer horribly because of the uncaring—and often intentional—actions of others. It’s all very heartbreaking and we all face a strong temptation to think that God is too busy spinning planets to care about what happens to people.
Slow justice, however, does not mean no justice.
Jesus once made a statement that goes virtually ignored in our day. In speaking about the importance of the state of one’s heart, the Son of God concluded by saying:
But I tell you that every careless word that people speak, they shall give an accounting for it in the day of judgment. For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.” Matthew 12:36-37 (NASB)
This is scary stuff! The fact that Jesus didn’t come to earth to condemn people (John 3:17, 12:47) does not mean that people will not one day be condemned. And if something as simple as a careless statement will be brought to account, how much more does God pay attention to the mass injustice that pollutes our human existence? Even more disconcerting is the realization that we’ve all selfishly brought pain to others in one way or another.
Is there anything more heart wrenching than injustice? Yes—justice! Many of us long for justice but justice is, in essence, very harsh. Injustice can cause suffering for a lifetime. The consequences of justice can be eternal.
How did Stephen respond when being unjustly stoned? He asked God to forgive his murderers (Acts 7:60). Stephen fully understood that their self-induced suffering would far surpass the pain they had inflicted on him.
I can’t begin to say how thankful I am for the cross of Christ. It was there, on Calvary, that Jesus died so that justice could be served. He unjustly suffered the punishment for our sins so that we might not suffer the full and eternal consequences of our own actions. I am still very bothered by injustice, but I pray more now for mercy.
May we fully understand that there is an authority far higher than any civil government. May God open our eyes to our need for forgiveness and to His willingness to forgive. May the scales of justice be tipped in our favor by the weight of Christ’s glorious sacrifice on that horrible wooden cross.
Justice may be slow, but, in the end, it is always complete.