Should Life Be Fair?

Though I am neither a philosopher nor a theologian, my thoughts have been directed lately to thoughts of “fairness.” It seems from birth, we are inclined to feel that all things should be “fair.” Isn’t it the familiar cry of a child: “That’s not fair!” The cookie has to be perfectly broken in two, for certainly no one can have more than the other.

We have an innate sense about what we deserve, how things should be, how we should be treated, what is right and wrong, what is fair and unfair. But is our expectation of fairness realistic? More importantly, is it a biblical expectation?

I’ve been faced with that this year — situations that at first glance don’t seem “fair” in the lives of all 4 in my family. But what if that were our expectation? Unfair things will happen all throughout our lives, over and over again. What if we accepted these kinds of circumstances as the norm and expected them, entrusting ourselves to God who knows best?

And what if instead of fighting to make these unfair wrongs right, we fought to display God’s glory and bring His ways into the situation. What if we truly returned evil with a blessing, prayed for those who hurt us, forgave, demonstrated faithfulness and commitment to other people, poured out the love of God to those who hurt us?

What if we gave God’s Word and ways a chance? What if our responses became so adapted to His ways that we didn’t even feel the unfairness anymore, just the beauty of responding in a way that honors God.

Look at Hagar. She was treated harshly by Sarah (Genesis 16), and yet God showed compassion on Hagar and blessed her, while still telling her to return and submit to Sarah.

Look at Joseph. He was sold by his brothers into slavery, then later imprisoned for something he did not do (when Potiphar’s wife lied about him.) But God was with Joseph, and God used the evil to bring good (food for his people during the famine).

Do these things sound fair? Yet God was sovereign over them, ordaining them for His good purposes, and He was with Hagar and Joseph in the midst of the wrong. He blessed them and used these things. What if they had resisted or fought for their rights or demanded better treatment, if that were even possible?

What if Jesus had refused to be mistreated? What if He had demanded His rights? He of all people could have. But in His great love for us, He suffered. He gave us a different picture for how to handle mistreatment. The love He gave us, He is asking us to give it to others.

We live in a broken world of sin, and we know this current world and life can’t offer us what we are looking for. We long for the perfection and fairness that is not ours on this earth, and we are longing for the place where all will indeed be right and fair and perfect. Christ offers us that for which we long. He is the one Who came to redeem us and change us, and He has a place for those who know Him in heaven one day. He alone satisfies.

Even as I write this, I know it is not complete theologically. I know there are circumstances where we need to act, need to confront, and need to stand up for something. But I wonder how many situations we perceive to be that way that could just as easily be overlooked as we allow God to take our hurts and help us.

So I write as I wrestle. I write without full knowledge, but I write with thankfulness for what God is teaching me and revealing to me about Himself as I struggle through these things.

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