Doing justice requires faith. In fact, I often wonder about those who do this work without faith in a God who rights wrongs, who does ultimate justice, who brings something beautiful out of the horrendous mess of human misery.
And yet, many others wonder the opposite about Christians. “How can you believe in justice and believe in a God who allows/causes such tremendous injustice?” they ask. It’s a fair point. When we see folks at the Clinic afflicted with grievous wounds, both hidden and visible, by a corrupt regime in their home country, we wonder. When we see men and women punished for the rest of their lives because of criminal mistakes made in their youth, we wonder. When we sit face-to-face with a woman who has been betrayed and abused by a man who swore before God and others to protect and support her, we wonder.
But we wonder to a God who has suffered. We wonder aloud to a God who has promised to right wrongs. We lament and grieve to a God who also suffered injustice at the hands of a corrupt regime, punished for a crime that he did not commit, betrayed by his trusted companions.
And this strengthens our faith. James tells us that when we ask things of our Good Father we should not ask like people who are tossed around like waves (James 1:6). Rather, we should ask in faith. Steadfast, hefty, meaty, dense faith. This rooted and thick faith stands between two poles: looking backward to what has happened, and looking forward to what is promised.
Backward-looking, we sit in awe of the Cross, where cataclysmic injustice was done to justify us. Forward-looking, we set our gaze on the New Heavens and the New Earth, where justice will replace suffering, where peace will replace war, where God will wipe every single tear from our eyes. Christians are people of memory—and we not only remember backwards, but we remember forwards.
And this remembering forward invigorates our leaden feet and awakens our sleepy souls. I remember after I finished a case with one of my first clients and she wrapped her arms around me and bellowed with glee in a cavernous courthouse. Justice brings joy. Justice sounds like laughter. While there is anger and lament and frustration in the work, there is also delight and peace and faith to come.
May you act in faith in a God who has already done the ultimate work of justice. May you ask in faith because there is a God who cares immeasurably more about justice than you do. May you look backward and forward in faith, knowing that the same one who did not spare his own life will renew the life of the world at the last. And may you laugh and delight in the peace to come because you can trust the One who made the promise.
Until justice and peace embrace,