Life Isn’t Fair: Stuff My Mom Said

Over time my sisters and I figured out that it was pretty much pointless to complain about something being unfair to our mother. Rest assured her response was always the same, “Well, life isn’t fair.” We used to hate it when she said that but I’m glad she did, because she is right.

Scripture testifies to the unfairness of life we just so often miss it or are not taught it. This is why I believe so many Christians struggle to understand and live with difficult circumstances in our lives without experiencing a crisis of faith, doubt, or resentment towards God.

Mistakenly we often attribute difficulty in life to God and his will, instead of attributing difficulty in life to where scripture places the blame; the Fall. The Fall is the reason we experience pain, death, sickness, and loss. The Fall has turned a good world and good existence for all of creation into a not so good existence. From a Biblical perspective good isn’t simply pleasure and happiness, good is flourishing. As it pertains to creation flourishing as God intends is meant to be universal. The result of Adam and Eve eating from the tree so that they (so they were led to believe) could be on par with God cannot be overstated. Flourishing totally depends on all of creation being in proper relationship with God and one another. The curses given in Genesis 3 in a way is God allowing for parts, not all, of flourishing to depend on creation being in proper relationship with us, as though we are gods.

The first problem is that there is too many of us (Thus the importance of our Trinitarian theology emphasizing three in one. One only need look to Roman and Greek mythology to see the chaos that ensues from there being more than one God, each of whom has different desires and view of the world than the others). The second problem is that none of us are God nor possess his power to create something out of nothing, to bring life from death, to bring about and maintain complete order from complete chaos.

In other words, bad things aren’t simply brought into our lives by God so that he can teach us something or bring about some good that does little more than maintain a ying and yang balance to the world. Bad things simply happen! They happen because the world is fallen, broken, and things don’t go the way they ought to go. Our cries of life not being fair is little more than us crying out to anyone who will lend us ear that a piece of our life isn’t happening the way it ought, that instead of experiencing flourishing we are experiencing suffering.

Make no mistake, it is not God’s fault, it is our fault. Not in the sense that there was something very specific that we did that directly resulted in this bit of suffering. Rather it is in the sense that humanity was to blame, is to blame, and will be to blame for life not being fair until… Christ returns to put everything right, to judge and to rule, and to make everything new. Furthermore he is not obligated to step in and end our suffering, any part of it, before Christ returns. Sometimes he does and sometimes he doesn’t, but he is not obligated to. Nor can we some how earn the right for God to end our momentary suffering. Yes, even physical death for the redeemed is only a momentary suffering. We can pray to God and ask, but he can always say no like he did to Jesus’ prayer in the garden of Gethsemane/Mount of Olives (Matthew 26.39, and Like 22.39-46).

Speaking of Jesus praying that God remove the cup of his wrath for the sins of mankind, and not pour it out on him, to the point that he was in such agony that even the appearance and strengthening from an angel of God didn’t divert him from praying more earnestly to the point that he was sweating blood. Thank God and praise his name that he wasn’t concerned with being fair in that moment. Cause if God were about what is fair he would have surely answered Jesus’ request with a resounding yes, and we would all be doomed to suffer forever beyond any suffering we will experience her on earth.

God is not obligated to fix every situation, to heal every sickness, to make sure we flourish or prosper every moment of every day of our lives. His goodness doesn’t depend on him stepping in every time, or even some of the time, because Jesus already stepped in when it mattered most. God raised him from the dead and he ascended to heaven where he is able to be present to us amidst flourishing and suffering and all the in between, and present us before God unstained (Hebrews 8.4 and 9.24)

For me this has meant learning to live with suffering, with life not being fair. I understand that suffering is simply a part of life until Christ makes all things new (Revelation 21.4-5).  That suffering difficulty and trials are not an indictment declaring that I have become unjustified, because Christ is my justification. I cannot undo Christ’s justification for me to my detriment or to my benefit. I simply use my faith to embrace a life that says he is my justification (Romans 5.1). Suffering is simply a reminder that Genesis 3 is true and is real.

Someone will surely say, “What about Romans 5.3 that says, ‘suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope’?” To which I would say Paul never says that God brings about or produces suffering to produce all those things in us. For Paul suffering is just a part of life, but God in his sovereignty and great power is stronger than suffering, and can accomplish what he wills even in suffering. Even in life not being fair.

Do you struggle with life not being fair?

Author: Token Confessions

Perpetual Seekers of Solidarity with God through sharing in the life death and resurrection of Jesus The Christ Pastors and Communicator Shepherd Business Owners Coffee Lovers, Snobs, and Roaster Sports fan but too rational to be a fanatic Sons, Brothers, Friends, Husbands, and Fathers

9 thoughts on “Life Isn’t Fair: Stuff My Mom Said”

  1. As a question of theodicy… what does this mean to the sufferer? Hey baby it’s only life? What do we say to those who are crying out for God to help them: they are asking, but not receiving. They are knocking and no one is answering. As a question of theodicy… what does this mean to the Jews of our day?

    1. Great question. First I think it’s important to not be dismissive of suffering, which can be really difficult. Second is to put situational or temporary suffering in the proper context or big picture of God’s story. Most of the Bible is filled with stories of suffering and pain. Sometimes God fixes it sometimes he doesn’t, but he always knows/is present. Revelation 21-22 where God puts an end to suffering is only two chapters long in print but in God’s story it is immeasurably longer than Genesis 3 to present day right on up to the ushering in of the New Heavens and New Earth (Revelation 21.1-3 and Isaiah 65.17-25).

      As for the Jews of our day, they must ask themselves whether or not they believe that the God of their fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, is still the same God of them? Can they look at their suffering the same way Joseph did when he told his brothers, “As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today” (Genesis 50.20)? Secondly and where the crux of the issue for modern day Jews is (at least from a Christian perspective) could it be that Jesus was in a way the second Joseph? That the jewish brothers of his day, that did not believe he was the Son of God and the Messiah, and thus believed that by crucifying Jesus they were honoring God, got it ‘wrong’? However, and most importantly that their ‘wrong’ God meant for right and their righteousness (Jeremiah 31.31-37 and Ezekiel 34)?

      1. Interesting ideas. I always love to hear people’s theodicy. I didn’t really mean the Jews today. I meant the people on our day being persecuted and slaughtered thought hey cry out to God, today.
        It’s interesting that you’d like to add Joseph into the mix. I’d never thought of it. I’ll have to think about that some more.

      2. It’s a double-edged sword. Looking at Judaism through the glasses of Christianity, it is hard to understand how such a big part of their belief has been stifled by the denial of Christ. A large part of their belief is dedicated to the celebration and sanctification of the holy feasts to help them recognize the signs of the Messiah’s coming, death, and coming again, yet when it manifests with Jesus who fulfilled the prophecy, they missed it! However, looking at Christianity through Jewish glasses, can they not lay the same claim for us disregarding key elements of the traditions our faith began; the feasts of the Lord, keeping the Sabbath holy, (voluntary) adherence to God’s laws? To them, have we not strayed WAY away from our foundation? After all, Jesus DID follow the Jewish traditions as well, he just made the emphasis that only he was the way to salvation, not blindly following Rabbinical law. I don’t take that as a license to exempt ourselves from those traditions, especially the feasts and the Sabbath, which are meant to help us recognize Jesus and his second coming. Has the Church separated themselves too much from Judaism only on the premise of them failing to proclaim Jesus as the Messiah?

  2. I always have a hard time trying to explain this one. As one who has been blessed with just about as little suffering as one could ever hope for, it is very easy for me to understand and accept your biblical explanation above. Fortunately, I have never really been tested on this topic to see if using that argument is something I can actually hold on to and have it stick as easily as it does when I am not suffering. My wife often struggles with this having two people very close to her die in a relatively short period of time (Father and 6 year old nephew). I use the same explanation you laid out whenever she thinks about them and becomes sad. Although she understands, it doesn’t usually provide her solace (at that moment). I don’t really know and haven’t really heard of any other or better way to explain it than this, but I just feel that I have no way of knowing if it is having any effect not having gone through the experience myself.

    1. I had to hold on firmly to that explanation as Emma and I struggled through unexplained infertility eventually leading to adoption. It allowed me to navigate that journey without growing angry and resentful towards God. I believe I had scriptural support for my conviction that God had not thrust infertility upon us, but that it was a result of the Fall directly affecting our ability to “be fruitful and multiply”. All that being said I was and am able to see how God is truly present to us amidst trouble in hardship as the Psalmist declares (Psalm 121). The difficulty for me was to not let the biblical explanation become a defense mechanism that got in the way of me being able to see that God was an ever present help during suffering. Which meant that at times i needed to let my guard down enough to feel the full weight and pain of what troubled me.

      1. I think that point is spot on Ced. There is no magic potion to remove the pain, but only through God’s word can we understand the nature and the origination of where the pain comes from to help come out the other side stronger for it.

  3. Heya! I know this is sort of off-topic but I had to ask.
    Does running a well-established blog like yours require a
    large amount of work? I’m completely new to operating
    a blog but I do write in my journal everyday.
    I’d like to start a blog so I will be able to share my own experience and feelings online.
    Please let me know if you have any suggestions or tips for new aspiring blog owners.

    1. All the tips they give on the wordpress site are spot on. It needs to be consistent, you need to broadcast it other places; Facebook twitter, etc. and lastly you need to be patient because it takes a while to grow a regular audience. Also you need to be discerning in what to right about. Well written commentary on topics people are interested in will always get more traffic than just sharing what you’re feeling on any given day.

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