Sometimes I wonder what on earth is going on with this world.
One of those times was a few evenings ago when I (finally!) got around to watching one of the most acclaimed films of 2015, Spotlight. (Hey, it’s hard to stay on top of movies when your kids just want to watch Moana for the ninety-seventh time!)
The storyline of Spotlight revolves around The Boston Globe and its 2001 investigation into reports of widespread sex abuse within the Catholic church. It’s a sickening tale of inexcusable behavior. But what is even more troubling than the abuse itself is the sustained effort of church authorities to cover it up. Year after year, those who had the power to do something intentionally chose to look the other way. And in the meantime, hundreds of young people were victimized.
It’s hard to be exposed to a story like that without losing hope. The church is supposed to be a spiritual refuge for the weary. A source of truth in the midst of confusion. An advocate for the weak, oppressed, needy, and vulnerable. And yet even this noble institution can become a well-oiled machine for the systematic exploitation and abuse of those who trust their souls to its care.
Is there no hope for us? If even our spiritual caretakers can become leading agents of injustice, what reason could there possibly be to keep believing that redemption will visit this weary world of ours?
Within twenty-four hours of watching that film, God spoke to me and addressed these questions head-on. No, not through a booming voice from the sky. But from his word. Psalm 82, to be exact. Lately I’ve been appreciating the Psalms in the candid simplicity of The Message translation, and its rendering of this particular psalm stopped me in my tracks:
God calls the judges into his courtroom,
he puts all the judges in the dock.
“Enough! You’ve corrupted justice long enough,
you’ve let the wicked get away with murder.
You’re here to defend the defenseless,
to make sure that underdogs get a fair break;
Your job is to stand up for the powerless,
and prosecute all those who exploit them.”
Ignorant judges! Head-in-the-sand judges!
They haven’t a clue what’s going on.
And now everything’s falling apart,
the world’s coming unglued.
“I commissioned you judges, each one of you,
deputies of the High God,
But you’ve betrayed your commission
and now you’re stripped of your rank, busted.”
O God, give them their just deserts!
You’ve got the whole world in your hands!
Take a moment and reflect on the places where you’ve seen evidence of injustice in the past few weeks. (If you’ve forgotten, just pull up a news website and let the headlines remind you.) Indeed, we’re living in a world that often feels like it’s “falling apart” and “coming unglued.” All it takes is an open eye to see its brokenness. And if your heart has been even moderately shaped by the priorities of God, the state of things can easily leave you disheartened and angry.
But God is not oblivious. Nor is he passive.
Psalm 82 shatters our disillusionment and gives us reason to hope again. The judges who have been entrusted with doing right will themselves be brought to trial. Their commitment to care for the needy will be evaluated. And those who have been faithless in their vocations of justice will be exposed and indicted. All the negligence, all the lies, all the redactions, all the pay-offs, all the under-the-table deals, all the cover-ups—all of it will be brought to light. God will set things straight.
Although it may not always seem like it, the world is in God’s hands. He alone holds its past, its present, and its future. The powers of the day may measure with crooked scales, but they don’t get the final word. The God of justice will give them their just deserts!
If you’re weary today with the weight of a world gone mad, let this hope sustain you. The court date has been set. The truth will be revealed. The Judge will raise his gavel. Justice will prevail.