Who's to say what's fair?
‘It’s not fair! It’s just not fair!”
How many times have you heard that? How many times have you said that?
Some respond with, “Who said life is fair? It’s not." That’s not helpful. It’s like the response, “You think that’s bad; I guarantee you there are others who got it far worse than you!” That may be true, but the thought of others suffering doesn’t really help when it feels like you’re suffering.
“It’s not fair!”
Some say, “It’s God’s will!” Is it? How do we know? And if it’s all God’s will, then what does that say about God? Sometimes bad things happen over and over. Wars have been happening in Europe for centuries. That history doesn’t make it any easier for the people of Ukraine right now. Elementary schools, maternity hospitals, apartment buildings, residential neighborhoods, and shelters housing children have all been bombed. It’s way past unfair. It’s crimes against humanity.
I don’t believe it’s God’s will. Job wrestled with this same question and in the end discovered that he was not on an equal plain with God. That is true. The first day of seminary we learned a valuable lesson with which there was total agreement: God is God and we are not.
It amazes me that in the midst of chaos and tragedy that is Ukrainian life today, people are still falling in love. That too is somehow unfair.
Hundreds of thousands of people have died from or with Covid-19 and that too is tragically unfair. Many have died of preventable causes left untreated out of fear of Covid-19.
Another annoying quote is that God will never give you more than you can handle. If only that were true. Suicides argue against that quaint expression.
In all this we’ve learned the following: life is not fair, we are not God, God’s will is more excuse than explanation, good and bad happens, and quaint expressions aren’t helpful.
I’d like to conclude this with a few thoughts. Was it fair that God sent his son? No. Neither was it fair that Jesus taught many, healed some, and raised a very few. It wasn’t fair that he was captured, tortured, and killed. I can’t even imagine what it must have been like to be an early follower or disciple and see the long-promised Messiah who had done so much for so many taken away. It was not fair. Then again it wasn’t fair that Jesus rose from the dead and appeared to a few and then to more and finally to many.
Although life is not fair and the unfairness can be overwhelming, things do change. The darkness eventually gives way to the light. We know this all too well. We’ve made it through the short days and long darkness of November through January. Soon all this snow will melt, and swarms of mosquitoes will rise up. Keep the faith even when it seems out of reach. We’ll get through this together.
The Rev. Stephen Reed is the Pastor, St. Paul Church on Farmers Loop next to Mushers Hall and the Chaplain for Police and Fire. Insight is sponsored by the Tanana Valley Christian Conference.
Printed in the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner on April 1, 2022
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Married 27 years, 2 kids, 1 cat and 1 dog. Ordained & Chaplain for 20 years. Ministry philosophy - we're all in this together and Jesus leads the way. Hobbies: working in the woodshed, teaching, and competitive shooting