How many nights have we laid our heads down, meditating on those oh-so commonly quoted verses in Lamentations, “Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his mercies never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness” (3:22-23), with fervent hope that tomorrow will bring us relief from whatever woes we’re in the throes of? God says His mercies are new every morning, so we wrap up our prayers for a supernatural peace with the very verse that follows, “I say to myself, ‘The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for him'” (3:24). We awake the next day, waiting for the respite He may deliver us, but more often than not, we lay down that night and press the replay button. Waiting for His mercies is an exercise of our faith, but waiting for His justice can be equally as daunting.
I realize it’s not culturally acceptable in today’s Christian community to share these thoughts, as we’re supposed to be a people brimming over with love, mercy, grace, and compassion; however, to earnestly desire justice has its seat right beside the throne of mercy. When we’re dealing with decisions of action and response to the wrongdoings we’re witness to, we are called to be discerning in how we react. As a matter of fact, it’d require much more than one blog post to address the choices God would direct us in taking. Here though, my focal point is in how God Himself enacts justice on those who’ve committed injustices in His sight. He does so, just as with His mercy, measure out justice with every morning.
Within chapter three of Zephaniah, God offers us yet another glimpse into who He is and what He does; “The Lord within her is righteous; he does no wrong. Morning by morning he dispenses his justice, and every new day he does not fail, yet the unrighteous know no shame” (v. 5). This entire chapter is filled with God calling out the detestable acts of those within Jerusalem and then the unveiling of His redemption to come. There is no reason we, today, cannot read these verses and trust that God is working in the same way. Particularly, in that He continues to dispense justice on a daily basis.
If we’re to reread these two verses in Lamentations and Zephaniah, it is obvious that, although speaking of the distinctly different components of mercy and justice, they actually reveal similarities that parallel each other. Lamentations tells us that His mercies are new every morning, that they never fail. Zephaniah tells us that He dispenses justice every morning, and with each new day, He does not fail. This is cause for the increasing hope we can have that, whether it be today, or tomorrow, God will bring about justice as He deems necessary. It gives us reason to believe that patiently waiting on Him to disperse justice on those who’ve committed wrong, against us or Him, is an acceptable response; especially when we can be coerced into feeling guilty for desiring justice to be done since the overarching tone of current Christianity begs us to embrace tolerance and acceptance of an entirely twisted sense of righteous behavior that is blatantly called unrighteous in Scripture.
Would it be so wrong for us to lay down tonight and, while continuing to hope for His mercies to be revealed to us in the next day, also place our prayers on hoping to see His justice towards those who remain unrepentant? I think not. Surely, there’s always a fine balance between the two, but one worth weighing. Micah 6:8 gives us a directive in regards to these apparently contradictory models of character, “He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” We can do both, albeit never as perfectly as He can, but both can be desired simultaneously without offending our God. It will be that last disposition, a humble heart, that will help us in finding a more God honoring balance as we seek His daily dose of mercy and justice.