It’s Not Fair

One student makes straight A’s without trying, and another does everything she can to pull a C.

One sister has stair-step babies, and the other can’t conceive in twenty years.

One friend’s parents thoughtfully encourage their children’s strengths. Another set of parents disregards or disapproves.

One lady has a husband and a respected degree by age thirty. Another has neither at sixty.

One girl is wooed by the man of her dreams. Another girl is invisible except to a mental patient.

One friend has money to vacation in Italy while another can’t afford a $20 concert ticket.

One couple celebrates one year of marriage and pronounces the year fun. Another couple fights three kinds of deadly cancer in their first year.

It’s not fair.

You shake your head at the balance scales. You whisper the words to a friend because for some reason you’re not supposed to say them. Or you sob into your pillow until you snort, and the universe keeps on humming, and friends never mention the disparity, and  the scenario keeps on not being fair.

To the one with a grim diagnosis. To the single bridesmaid at the eleventeenth wedding. To the bereaved and wrecked and poor: it’s not fair.

This is reality when the sun shines or when the rain blows. The Almighty and Omnipotent Father sits on His beautiful hands and does nothing to level the balance scales. There is no justice. You can do everything right and be a good girl and do what you were always told to do but there are no guarantees and it’s a fallacy to believe that everything will turn out like it should.

Part of my journey to wholeness includes being honest about the injustices I observe and experience. It seems much more wholesome to be able to call a spade a spade than to act as if it’s something else.

So: it’s not fair.

There are things I weep and howl over, dreams I ache for, friends I hurt with, prayers I beg God with the most persuasive words I can find.  To do otherwise would be to deny reality and be a flippant, chirpy, hollow, obnoxious voice in a cavern of unanswerable questions.

While maturity acknowledges that things aren’t fair, wisdom doesn’t stay there. It’s a child who mopes and sits outside the game and whines that it’s not fair. An adult who does that for days and weeks and months is pretty ugly, in my opinion.

 

 

 

 

 

There’s no easy way to do this, but when that forty-leventh bride has been whisked into the sunset, you sometimes have to take yourself by the scruff of the neck and turn yourself 180 degrees toward the east and make a list of other things that aren’t fair.

This is part of my list:

  • I sleep on a dry, thick, super-comfy Tuft and Needle mattress while refugees sleep on blankets that hang out of their tiny, squished-together tents.
  • I have a job that enabled me to buy a car, while a friend can only afford to drive a borrowed car.
  • I’m lonely and long for companionship but it’s not fair that another woman’s loneliness is infinitely, agonizingly greater after her husband abandoned her and their three little children, the baby with Down Syndrome.
  • I had major surgery in a foreign country and had the best of care and no complications and have been given a new life but my friend battles incurable illness and huge medical costs.

It’s not fair.

I’m stupendously, staggeringly, unreasonably rich and spoiled and comfortable, and it’s not a bit fair. It’s not fair that my friends and the rest of humanity walk through crazy amounts of pain and tears that I never do. I’m not being glib or flippant about this. I cry often about sad things and injustice and longings on my behalf and others’. I experience hard, hard, things about each of my list entries.

But the great and grand and shining reality is that the present injustice is not all there is. It takes the long view to see more than is apparent to the naked eye. The long view is the truest view.

It’s ok to say it’s not fair, but it’s not ok to stay there. Because at some point–after about an hour or a day or a week–wisdom and grace and the presence of Jesus are waiting to turn us to the east and see light and hope and a far green country under a swift sunrise.*

*That last phrase is what Gandalph said.

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Story of a Hymn

George Matheson went irreversibly blind when he was 20. His fiancee said she could not see herself be the wife of a blind man. So she broke their engagement shortly before their wedding date. From that point, his younger sister helped care for him and George went on to become a pastor and seminary lecturer.

Twenty years later, his sister was to be married and would leave him.  On the eve of her wedding while he was alone and his family was celebrating in another house, these lines came to him.  He said the words came quickly, as if inspired. They reveal a broken, weary man’s agony. The only thing in his heart that was larger than his pain was his deep, sure faith in God and His promises; He was confident that things wouldn’t always be the way they were now.

Mim, this post is for you. Sorry you had to wait this long for it…

 

1. O Love that wilt not let me go, (there once had been a love that did let him go)

I rest my weary soul in Thee;

I give Thee back the life I owe,

That in Thine ocean depths its flow

May richer, fuller be. (he knew God would value his contribution; he believed he had something to offer)

 

2. O Light that foll’west all my way,

I yield my flick’ring torch to Thee; (a reference to his blindness)

My heart restores its borrowed ray,

That in Thy sunshine’s blaze its day

May brighter, fairer be. (again, he had something to give God—a humble, faithful act of offering)

 

3. O Joy that seekest me through pain,

I cannot close my heart to Thee; (it is easier to close your heart in the presence of pain)

I trace the rainbow thru the rain, (in his blindness, he couldn’t see it, except through his fingers and then only in faith)

And feel the promise is not vain,

That morn shall tearless be. (his faith knew his what his sight couldn’t: that sunshine comes after rain)

 

4. O Cross that liftest up my head,

I dare not ask to fly from Thee; (the human response to pain is to fly from it)

I lay in dust life’s glory dead,

And from the ground there blossoms red

Life that shall endless be. (his faith knew there would be color someday)

 
Lyrics: George Matheson
Music: Albert Lister Peace, arr. by David Phelps

Comments on “The Jesus I Never Knew”

I’ve been reading Philip Yancey’s The Jesus I Never Knew and have only several pages left to read. Like always at the end of a good book, I’m sorry to see the end coming.  Yancey’s calm, thorough, careful writing soothed and fed me when I felt restless and hungry for rich words and truth.

He writes about Jesus’ world, what it must have been like to breathe that air, to walk those roads. In many ways, I’m not sure that it was so different from today’s gritty, tentative, restless towns. More than ever to me, Jesus is the hero to follow, the leader to believe in. And the audacity hits me sometimes, that I say I try to live like He did, because of my colossal failures in loving and serving like He did/does.

The best parts of the book are the last two chapters: “Kingdom: Wheat Among Weeds” and “The Difference He Makes.” The words and ideas are full of triumph and purpose, not heady and empty ideas, but solid and real–truer than our present physical surroundings.

I recommend this book, not just because of the easy-to-digest writing style, but because of the content that can lead to the source of Life.

And as an aside: Someone wrote me recently to ask why I’m reading Yancey, because she heard that he left the faith. I sighed, not because of the question, but because of the rumor. Someone has not been doing their homework, and jumped on a victim and spread a lie without reading to the end of the story.  So Yancey did leave the faith in his youth, but the fruit of his life now shows his allegiance to Christ. Who hasn’t done stupid things when they were young?

Please do yourself a favor and when you hear negative things about an author, don’t write him/her off as poison. Ask good questions of people you trust, don’t believe everything you hear or read on the internet, read books with discernment. ALL books are going to be flawed because their authors are flawed. But we can be students and ask good questions and learn the good that people have to teach us and at the same time be honest about the things that aren’t truth.

(The aside turns into a rant so the speaker steps off her soapbox.)