Imagine yourself a parent whose 22-year-old son was brutally murdered by three thugs, two of whom have lengthy criminal rap sheets.
And imagine the trial of your son’s killers delayed not once, not twice, but three times over the past three and a half years, owing to the legal maneuvers of lawyers representing the accused.
That’s the ordeal Pastor Ron Armstrong has endured. And today he makes his way to a Southern California courtroom – yet again – praying that his son’s killers will finally answer for their crime.
Pastor Ron freely admits that his soul has been tormented since the fateful night, in December 2008, when his eldest son was violently taken from him. Since then, he has struggled with anger, bitterness and, sometimes, even darker emotions.
His church congregation has been sympathetic, he relates, gratefully. They’ve offered him words of encouragement:
That his son has gone to be with the Lord. That God is near to the brokenhearted. That the Almighty will give him, his wife and their youngest son beauty for ashes.
Yet the hurt remains. The grief continues. The loss endures.
Perhaps, if the three men who stabbed young Ryan Armstrong to death had been tried in a timely manner, had a jury returned a verdict, had a judge imposed sentence, Pastor Ron and his family might have had some sort of closure.
But because Ryan’s killers have been untried, unconvicted and unpunished for three and a half years – and counting – his surviving family continues to suffer.
As a man of faith, anointed to preach the Gospel, Pastor Ron knows well that he is obliged to forgive the three men who sent his beloved son to an early grave – even if they are unrepentant.
But the Scripture does not command the still-grieving pastor – and those of us who sympathize with him and his family – to forgive the broken-down criminal justice system for allowing the wicked – the murderous – to delay justice indefinitely.
Indeed, a familiar maxim states: “Justice delayed is justice denied.” That’s why this nation’s founders, in their wisdom, enacted the Sixth Amendment, which guaranteed “the right to a speedy and public trial.”
Of course, the Sixth Amendment specifically refers to the rights of the criminally accused. But there should also be a guarantee of swift and sure justice for those, like Pastor Ron Armstrong and his family, who have lost a loved one to violent crime.