The Fairness Principle, and Other Complaints

The phrase “that’s not fair” is a frequently uttered one by anyone under the age of 9.  In the teenage years, that same phrase is spoken approximately 7 times a day.  As we age, even though we don’t speak it as much, our minds still hold onto it and use it as a measuring stick throughout our day.  Apparently, everyone, regardless of age, has a certain judicial sense that states that life and situations should turn out fair, but of course we all know too well that the times when life is actually fair are few and far between.  To take an example from a recent sermon I heard, when we see a pregnant woman abusing her children being watched by a woman unable to conceive who has more than enough love to give, our fairness sense kicks in and we wonder how life can be this way.  As a species, we feel that those who want should get, those who wrong should be stopped, those who care should be rewarded, and those who hurt should be punished, but injustice is in abundance in our world.  In reading my students’ personal class journals, I’ve witnessed the unfair treatment of them in their short lives.  I’ve read about abuse, death, mistreatment, and rejection.  My first thought is almost always the same: it’s not fair that they should be dealt should a horrible hand and have to suffer through the pain and heartache that they have.  This level of awfulness really makes one question why God would allow so much of it in this world instead of enforcing fairness.   So what is God’s purpose for excluding fairness?  Why would the creator of the world decide to eliminate such a seemingly important aspect of our lives?   A thought came to me recently as I was dealing with a very unfair situation:  the world is unfair so that God can create situations where He can be glimpsed through others during those unfair times.  This week, my students have had to deal with the sudden and untimely death of one of their classmates, a boy of sixteen who took his own life.  With little to no answers and few ways of coping, these teenagers were plunged into tremendous pain and confusion in dealing with the unfair loss of their friend.  Although he was not a student of mine and I barely knew him, I, along with others like me, went to the wake to support those who did know him.  It was there that God was able to work through us as we comforted those in need, gave shoulders for the broken, and words of love to those who had none.   Others were able to glimpse God’s love through us.  Philippians 2:13 writes about how God can use us to display his love: “For it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.”  But what does that concept have to do with the world being unfair?  Well, if the world were fair, we would rely on that fairness for everything, but because the world in not fair, we rely on God and others for love and comfort.  Fairness eliminates the need for others and any emotional component, whereas unfairness requires a need for us to love and care for one another.  It’s in that space of unfairness that God is able to do His work and complete His plan; our job is to be open for His instruction and ready to carry out that plan.  This week, pray for readiness to carry out His plan through you, as it may be one of the few glimpses of God that people get in their daily unfair lives.  Amen.

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