/ Christian living / Mark Loughridge

Escaping Justice?

There was an item on the news this week here in Ireland about a man charged with almost 100 counts of historic sexual offences. He was due to stand trial on Monday, but was killed in a car crash on Sunday. He smashed into a tree, no other vehicle was involved and the suspicion is, in light of the coming trial, that it was deliberate. 

Hundreds of hours have been put into investigating the charges, preparing evidence, interviewing the witnesses. All that has ground to a halt. And far more significant is the emotional pain and anguish of victims reliving all the horrors of their past with the hope of some sort of justice and closure—all of that has been ripped from them, and the past left like an open wound. 

News reports said that “as the victims learned of [his] death  … they were distraught and angry he would not face justice.”

That’s understandable, it just doesn’t seem fair does it? It seems like an easy way out—if that is what he intended. And if it isn’t what he intended, it still seems that he got off easy, doesn’t it?

There is something hardwired deep inside us that longs for justice—as if the compass bearing of our hearts is configured to point to the true north of ultimate justice. 

I don’t know anything about this case, but I do know many are in similar situations. They have suffered deep injustices; the people who perpetrated them have got off scot-free. Maybe the guilty are still alive, maybe they have been laid in the grave, but in either case they haven’t had to answer for what they did, and their escape taunts their victims. It seems grotesque—a double pain and insult.

Does the Bible offer any help?

We’ve been studying the book of Revelation at church, and one of the things that we’ve seen is that the longing of our hearts for an ultimate justice is not groundless. The compass bearing of our hearts does point to a destination that one day we will arrive at. There will be a day of judgement.

Revelation 20:13 tells us “Death and Hades gave up the dead who were in them, and they were judged, each one of them, according to what they had done… (21:8) the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars—they will be consigned to the fiery lake of burning sulphur.”

Elsewhere we read, “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done… whether good or evil.” (2 Cor 5:21)

God takes all wrongdoing very seriously. There may be those who escape an earthly court, but they will not escape the heavenly one. And how terrible to flee an earthly court, thinking that death is your escape, only to find yourself standing before the blazingly holy and almighty Judge of all the earth. Yet while the guilty lives there is an offer of forgiveness from this judge—it is not yet too late. One day it will be. 

And with God there is hope for all who have been hurt. He offers more than future justice; he offers here and now to restore the broken-hearted, to heal and bind up your wounds (Psalm 147). 

And more: Injustice has a way of trapping us. While some might try to escape justice, escaping injustice is another thing entirely. Injustice can consume us; it can corrode us, our character, our trust, our very soul. It can dominate our thinking. It can sabotage our ability to trust God. And so in his kindness God offers more than binding up our hurt. He offers to take that awful pain, that deep injustice, and use it for good. Sin and Satan will not have the last word.

Instead of holding our hurt tightly, or burying it deep, we are to entrust it into his hands.

I know, I know... a preacher might make a statement like that easily, even tritely, but your Heavenly Father doesn’t. He doesn’t promise you that lightly or cheaply. Instead, that promise is written with the blood of his own dear Son at the Cross—that most awful injustice transformed for the greatest good. There, before he asks you to trust him with your pain, he demonstrates in his own Son that he means what he says—that he will use even injustice for good.

It is possible for us to escape the corrosive power of injustice and unfairness.

I love a line from Ray Ortlund in his commentary on Isaiah, “Our past is unchangeable in fact, but beautiful in potential, because there is a Redeemer.”

Mark Loughridge

Mark Loughridge

Mark pastors 2 churches in the Republic of Ireland. He is married with three daughters. Before entering the ministry he studied architecture. He enjoys open water swimming, design, and watching rugby.

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