Sometimes life is just not fair. How many times have we heard that? We know enough people who have said this, and we have heard it so many times that this must be true. Life is not fair!
I don’t know where we got the notion that life was supposed to be fair. What is the meaning of fair, anyway? Let’s check at dictionary definition.
Fair: in accordance with the rules or standards; legitimate.
Synonyms of fair:
- Just – based on or behaving according to what is morally right and fair.
- Equitable – fair and impartial.
- Honest – free of deceit and untruthfulness; sincere
- Upright – strictly honorable or hones
- Trustworthy – able to be relied on as honest or truthfu
Using the definitions of above of the word fair and its synonyms, our assumption is that life should have a set of rules or standards. It should be based on people behaving morally right. It should be free of deceit, honest, and able to be relied upon.
That sounds really good. I like that. The big question is, who writes the standard or the rules? Who is the most impartial to do that?
Many will say the Ten Commandments would be our standard. It is a standard that our laws are based on. It is a standard for the best behavior. So, why is life not fair? We hear so many people say, “I don’t believe in the Bible, or I don’t need to be a Christian, but I follow the Ten Commandments—that is the source of my good behavior.”
That’s bad reasoning. First, some of these folks pick and choose which commandments they want to follow. For example: “Remember the Sabbath Day, to keep it holy.” That’s the 4th commandment. Hmm, they said they keep the Ten Commandments, but they don’t even give God an hour of their time to worship him, much less keep the whole day honoring God.
Let’s look at the 9th commandment: “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.” That means you won’t lie. That’s the biggie that we must be talking about when we say life isn’t fair. It’s called lying–not telling the truth, or concealing the truth. It’s all lies!
Have you ever had a sibling blame you for something they did, but you got in trouble? Or, you got in trouble, and your sibling just stayed quiet because they were the guilty one. Ever have the gossip at work be about you? Have you ever been disciplined or fired at work for something which you didn’t do, but were told you did?
Why do people lie? Well, they may say they didn’t lie. But if someone is deceitful, and doesn’t tell the truth to clear up a misunderstanding (and they know the truth) because they are covering their own backsides, that is lying. It is dishonest. It is not honorable. They cannot be relied upon, and they are no longer trustworthy. They have just made life unfair.
When I say “Life is not fair,” I am acknowledging that we live in a broken world. People are going to hurt each other because of their sinful nature.
If we don’t use the Ten Commandments, then what do we use? What are the standards which makes something “fair?” Someone may say, we just know we should treat everyone well. On the surface that sounds great, but everyone sees life from their own perspective—what makes something morally right or wrong? How do we define fair?
In my opinion, life is not fair because people are broken. People who say they are good and honest hurt other people. Sometimes they try to hide it by saying, “I’m sorry,” but “I’m sorry” is shallow if they aren’t doing what they can do to correct the harm they have
done. It’s like a child saying, “I’m sorry” to their parent for
misbehaving, and then turning around and doing the samebehavior again—there was no true remorse for their behavior.
Look at the stories of old—Joseph in the Bible—his brothers treated him extremely unfairly. They sold him into slavery because they were jealous of him. He got accused of things he did not do. Life was NOT fair for Joseph, but God used all the “unfair” circumstances for great things in Joseph’s life. Life was not fair to Jesus. He was good and kind. He healed people. He loved people who most people didn’t even want to be around. He was beaten and put to death. Once again, God used all the “unfair” circumstances for greatness.
Moving to more recent history—stories in my own life that life were not fair. I quit my employment to take a new and wonderful opportunity, my very first Human Resources management position. Three days later I was laid off. The out-of-town owners of the company informed the local office to pull the requisition for hiring a new Human Resources Manager. The owners were then informed that this person (me) had already been hired, just three days earlier. The owners told them to lay me off. Wow! I left my job for this—to be unemployed. Then my life got even harder—my son got mono for the 2nd time and was terribly ill, and I had to help take care of him instead of looking for a job. Then I got poison ivy so bad that I was in the doctor’s office daily—couldn’t look for a job. I need work. Life is unfair! My dear friend comes in town and I am fortunate enough to have time to see her twice in the few days she is visiting. The day after she leaves, I interview for a job, and get an offer only ½ hour after leaving the interview.
That gap in employment was tough, but I was able to take care of a son who was sick. I never saw my friend again because she passed away the following year–how wonderful that I could spend time with her because I was not working. I could recover from my poison Ivy without missing work and jeopardizing a new job. The amazing thing is that this new job paid substantially more than the 3-day job, and the level of management was greater, and the duties I had in that position gave me the background I needed to obtain greater professional positions I had never dreamed of. God took my “unfair” moments and gave me so much more.
I wish life were fair. I wish I could protect my children and my grandchildren from others hurting them. I wish I could make life fair for everyone.
Here is what I learned when life was unfair to me:
- Be open to new doors that open when unfair things happen.
- Lean into God, and he will make lemonade from your lemons!
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11