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Life is Sometimes Unfair

With all the girls we have in our family, there is no shortage of drama. Gale and I got a fresh reminder of that last week when we went to the school to pick up one of our granddaughters after a practice for a program she will be performing in. When she got in the car it did not take long to figure out that she had something heavy on her mind. As she started talking the tears started to flow. The problem—at least from her view—was that she was not going to get one of the key spots in the play that she wanted and she believed it was terribly unfair. Gale and I tried to reassure her that everything was going to be alright and that all roles are important. Our wisdom did not seem to do a great deal of good at the moment, but she eventually calmed down and got her focus on other things.

The truth is life does seem tremendously unfair at times. It reminds me of those times when I unsuccessfully candidated for pastoral positions over the years. In the denomination that I am in the selection of a pastor can be a rigorous one. It requires meeting with a committee for interrogation (at least that is what it can seem like) and then preaching a trial sermon for the church. The final part of the process is the vote. On one of those occasions I came away from the trial sermon with a great deal of confidence as I waited to hear the pleasure of the people; in my mind it was a done deal that only needed the blessings of the church. But to my surprise and disappointment, when the call came it was not what I expected and things did not go my way. That was a horrible letdown at the moment that seemed tremendously unfair and confusing to me, yet over time I came to realize that they probably did me more of a favor than a disservice by not selecting me as their pastor. Was I disappointed and confused? I was, but it did not last forever—the sun still came up the next day, life went on, and God had other assignments for me to fulfill.

Sometimes we might even feel that God has treated us unfairly when things do not turn out the way that we expect. Nevertheless, regardless of our feelings, we know that He always does right and He sees the whole picture while we only see a small part of it. In those times we can take the often quoted words of Romans 8:28 to heart: “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose” (New International Version). Regardless of what we may be facing or thinking, we can stand on the truth of those words to sustain us when life is unfair and confusing.

One of the great men of the Bible, Paul, was in the midst of a difficulty in life and he asked God to remove: “Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me” (2 Corinthians 12:8). Thoughts of unfairness might have entered the mind of Paul during that ordeal, yet God’s response to the apostle’s request is worth us remembering when we face what seems to be unfair outcomes in life: “But He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness’” (verse 9). What a wise word from our wise God!

Just a few more thoughts are in order about Addy’s struggle with what she felt was unfairness. Whatever made her think she was not getting the part in the musical that she wanted turned out not to be true—she got the part and I have great confidence that she will do an outstanding job.

Life is unfair through our eyes at times and it is confusing during those seasons, but God works through His sufficient grace to bring good to His children out of things that appear to us to be bad.