April 9, 2018
When Life “Just Ain’t Fair”
“Life isn’t fair.” “You aren’t being fair.” “I just want what’s fair.” “That is such a double standard.” If you have lived with a teenager, you’ve definitely heard these battle cries a number of times. If we haven’t yelled these ourselves, we’ve at least thought these statements at various times, right?
There are two primary perspectives regarding fairness. The first is a human viewpoint in which we are looking out for “number one” as in “Not fair. He has more than me.” We want to make sure someone doesn’t get better benefits than we do as in “Don’t get mad, get even.” We want to be sure everyone experiences at least as much pain as we do. Both of these human perspectives ignore the fairness concept when someone has fewer blessings than we have, or experiences more hardship than we are. Rarely do we think, “To be fair, I should have the same amount of food as the poorest person.” Sadly, our me-centered approach never leads to peace or contentment. In fact, the outcome is that we become covetous, cynical, bitter, and even hostile.
The second perspective is the divine viewpoint. God misses absolutely nothing (1 Peter 3:12). He is completely aware of what we think, say, and do before it ever takes place. “But,” we ask, “what about all the evil in the world?” Interestingly, God doesn’t operate in time as we do, but we can be assured that justice will be served (Rom. 8:28).
1 Peter 3:13 tells us that people who do the right thing usually don’t suffer harmful consequences. For example, if we pay our debts we can stay in our house and usually avoid financial trouble. If we lead a healthy lifestyle, we usually live longer and with better quality. This verse shows us that the odds are in your favor when you live the right way.
Still, there are times when we do suffer and life is not fair even though our conduct and decisions are good. The next verse (14) promises that we can consider ourselves “blessed” if we suffer for righteous reasons. Obviously, we also can experience unpleasant consequences when we make decisions that violate God’s principles. The Phillips translation of James 1:2 gives us comfort: “When all kinds of trials and temptations crowd into your life, don’t resent them as intruders, but welcome them as friends!”
Today, several insightful techniques can help you deal with suffering and unfairness in life. First, you are called to patiently endure unfairness, so that you can know you are fulfilling God’s plan. Second, one day you’ll be rewarded for enduring these undeserved trials (James 1:12). Third, don’t panic and don’t worry (1 Peter 3:14). Fear comes from the Greek word “phobos” which means being seized with terror and running to take flight. But God wants to give you calmness in your spirit. Fourth, acknowledge Christ as Lord over this event. In the book of Acts, Stephen forgives his attackers, giving an example of not responding with hatred and bitterness. Fifth, be ready to give a good witness (v. 15). You must know what you believe, and be reasonable, intelligent, and gentle in giving your defense. And, sixth, keep a good conscience (v. 16). Integrity will silence and shame your slanderers. Job’s example shows that unjust suffering is always better than deserved punishment. Whether you learn and practice these decision-making skills to deal with “unfairness,” or you continue in your me-centered, “that’s not fair” attitude is your decision, so choose well.
Father God, thank You that You are full of compassion and are fully in control of all that You created. When You allow suffering, let me not feel agitated and worried, but count it all joy, knowing that endurance will result in a crown of life. When I am slandered, let me not be crushed by others’ opinions, but help me to live in such a way that no one would believe it! Help me to remember who I am and Whose I am. I ask this in the soothing name of the Prince of Peace, Jesus; and all God’s children say – AMEN!
“When a man’s ways are pleasing to the Lord, He makes even his enemies to live at peace with him.” Proverbs 16:7
“Indeed we count them blessed who endure. You have heard of the perseverance of Job and seen the end intended by the Lord – that the Lord is very compassionate and merciful.” James 5:11