Last week, a jury in Minneapolis found Derek Chauvin guilty of murdering George Floyd in May of 2020. Shortly after Mr. Floyd was killed, a video of the murder began making the rounds on social media. The sustained worldwide protest which followed was unlike anything I have seen. Among the many signs, slogans, and demands was the refrain, “Justice for George Floyd.”
When Derek Chauvin was convicted, did George Floyd receive justice?
My wife and I watched the judge read the jury’s verdict as we sat on our couch holding our eight-month-old daughter. We were trying not to stress the poor girl out, but I had been pacing around the house for an hour prior to the announcement trying to suppress the urge to go throw up. There were many tears when the guilty verdict was finally read.
I am relieved that what we all saw Derek Chauvin do last summer was judged to be murder. I was not convinced it would. Here at United? We Pray, we have written that it is wrong not to celebrate instances of growth or justice in this fallen world. Doing so attempts to rob God of glory He is due.
But I have been challenged to be thankful for what this verdict is rather than focusing on what it is not. It does not bring George Floyd back. It does not give his daughter back her father.
What sense can believers make of all this?
1. Human Justice is Imperfect
This is not to say that human justice never gets anything right. But we must acknowledge the limitations of human institutions and power. God instituted government in part, Scripture tells us, to punish those who do what is wrong (Romans 13:4). This side of glory, that justice will never be perfect. Even when human courts correctly render judgment, we lack the power to undo harm that’s already occurred. We lack the power to prevent future injustices. We lack the power to apply the same justice in all cases or in all places.
Focusing on all these limitations might drive a person toward despair. If our justice is going to be so incomplete, why even bother?
2. God’s Perfect Justice is Coming
The hope of God’s perfect, coming kingdom is what motivated saints of old to march across bridges into waiting batons. In the face of blatant human injustice, God’s people know who is really in charge. We know that human history ends with every human deed judged by a God perfectly competent to try every case, render every verdict, and make all things right.
God’s people can await the return of our Lord confident of the moral conclusion of the universe. We can acknowledge the limitations of human justice while also pointing to its power. God can use humans doing the right thing in ways which are totally unexpected.
The worldwide movement that started with a cellphone video culminated in a closed room of twelve people. We should be freshly encouraged and emboldened to do the right thing, confident that our God may use it in ways above anything we might expect.
The verdict that George Floyd was murdered by Derek Chauvin does not mean the end of injustice or murder. But the return of Christ does (Revelation 21). Let’s work with renewed focus and vigor but let’s remember from where our help comes (Psalm 121). Come quickly, Lord Jesus.
- Pray for the family of George Floyd, that the peace of God would be near to them.
- Pray for the salvation of Derek Chauvin.
- Pray that God’s people would be encouraged to do what is right and to pray big prayers for God to use us.
- Pray for Christians working in the justice system to make it more fair for all.