I walked down the stairs from the newsroom as my eyes brimmed with tears. In one day I had found myself discussing a cold murder case, prescription drug abuse, and a lawsuit. My head swam with hard facts, but my heart ached as I mulled over the details of others’ tragedies.
When I got home I silently curled up next to my husband in bed. He asked me what was wrong. I opened my mouth in response, but I couldn’t form the words to describe my confusion. It was silent. He asked again. This time, tears came as I stumbled through my explanation.
An hour of my morning I had passed talking with a detective about a murder case. Details aside, a man had been murdered and the case had gone cold. From what I’ve been told, he has a sick mother who hopes to discover the truth before her own passing. He was also the father of five.
But because there was no suspect in custody, the detective could only give me so many details. The one detail that disturbed me the most was that the man had a felonious drug record, and the detective said there was a high probability that whoever killed him was someone he knew from his drug involvement.
In another meeting I sat with two policemen as we discussed the ever-increasing rate of Americans abusing prescription pain medications. Many get hooked on accident. They start taking a medication after a tragedy, or a rough surgery, and before they know it they’re dependent.
Then there’s some that start taking it for one reason or another, and their addiction gets so desperate they’ll do anything for it — visit and lie to over 100 doctors, rob a pharmacy, or steal from loved ones. If and when they get caught, their bodies are thrown into a physically, mentally and spiritually painful withdrawal.
My last meeting found me sitting in front of a lawyer and his client. They were in the middle of a lawsuit. Both felt the client’s due process of law had been violated, and constitutional rights had been stripped.
And while I agreed with what they were saying, I couldn’t get over the elephant in the room — the reason the client had an opportunity to have his rights violated in the first place is because he broke the law.
As I related my story to my husband I slowly began to realize my ache: the paradox of justice and mercy. I was torn between my heart that prompted me to feel compassion, and my brain that insisted upon logic.
Part of me could see how all three of these individuals were basically good people that got wrapped up in the wrong thing, at the wrong time. While the other part of me, dare I say it, felt like maybe they were asking for it.
I was compelled to wonder: how does the Lord balance justice and mercy? How is He able to see us so perfectly? Will I ever be able to balance that paradox?
I’m not sure I can answer any of those questions. All I know is, I’m grateful the Lord sees me, and the rest of us, in a perfect light.
What do you think about justice and mercy? Have you ever had to balance the two? How do you think the Lord does it? And for the sake of journalism: is there anything else you’d like to add?