This is the Lord our God, whose judgments are in all the earth. God is always mindful of the holy promise, of the word that God commanded, for a thousand generations. – Psalm 105:7-8 (NRSV adapted)

It can be hard to exorcise harmful theology from our psyches. Bad things happen, injustices cycle with violence, and (for some of us) the knee-jerk reaction is to wonder why God has it in for us. “God isn’t always mindful of God’s promises,” our psyches mutter. “Otherwise, why do we hurt so much, suffer so much, weep and rage and gnash our teeth so much?” Too many of us then turn toward the mirror and victim-blame: “It’s my fault. I’m not good enough, faithful enough, or superbly human enough in God’s judgment.”

The psalmist’s proclamation that God’s judgments are in all the earth challenges that theological paddle of the inner voice, raising the question: “If God’s judgment is in the earth, and if I (we) believe God’s judgment to be a cause of harm and punishment, then am I prepared to believe that God’s punishment is embedded in the earth? Are the trees rooted in victim-blaming soil? Does the river mutter angrily? Do the clouds count God’s failed promises—and their own?”

If, on the other hand, God’s judgment in the earth is why there are beautifully diverse flora and fauna, if it generates new life with every season, if it glimmers with starry guides and swells the oceans on a faithful rhythm—then might I too, with all my dusty ashes and errors, be a beautiful result of God’s wise and discerning judgment?

Prayer: Just as your judgment is in the earth, O God, your judgment lives within me too—not to cause harm but to multiply life, not to condemn but to discern, not to validate injustices but to hold out eternal promises. Thanks be!

written for Daily Devotional

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