When have you uttered those four words, “Life is not fair?” How do you respond when that happens? Today is a Guest Post by the late Sally Philbrick Smith. In the following devotion, she discussed that issue:
Life Is Not Fair
By Sally Philbrick Smith
“Mother, you rocked my world when at age six you told me that life is not fair,” confided our adult daughter Carla. “That was the first life lesson that shocked me, and I’ve never forgotten it. Everything at our house was fair in my mind from the choice of cereals to chores.
Every one of us could name a time when we felt that life has not been fair to us. My mother remembered to her deathbed the shame of being accused of cheating in front of her grade school class. I did not believe my mother was innocent just because she said that she was. No, I believed her because I knew my mother. I never saw her treat another person unkindly. If the check-out clerk gave her three cents too much, she would return it to the store. If I asked her to tell the person calling on the phone that I was not in, she refused. “I’m not lying for you, Sally. If you don’t want to talk to that person, you’d better run outside quickly.” I wish that I had a nickel today for every time that I was not “in” but ran “out” the door like blazes.
Biblical Examples When Life Is Not Fair
The Bible calls Job a “righteous” man. God’s favor was on every part of Job’s life…that is until his servant ran into his house breathlessly one day to tell him the bad news. Job lost all ten children, his crops, barns, animals and all other possessions in a huge storm. Not fair! Is this how God treats His own?
Joseph was chosen by God while still a child living at home. Before he was grown, his eleven jealous brothers sold him into slavery. While serving in Potiphar’s house, Joseph was wrongly accused of rape and spent the next thirteen years in prison. A fellow inmate told Joseph that when he got out, he would plead for Joseph’s release. But he forgot his pledge. Not fair!
Daniel was raised in a God-fearing family of nobility. He was handsome and showed aptitude for every kind of learning. The future looked promising for Daniel until the Babylonians with their fast horses and iron chariots roared into his city. After besieging Jerusalem, these idol-worshiping warriors kidnapped Daniel and other young men of his caliber. He was ripped from his family, home, school, country and everything that was familiar to him. Their goal was to remake Daniel and his friends into Babylonians and teach them to serve their king. He was forced to learn a new language, wear clothes unfamiliar to him and eat food too rich for a Jewish diet. Where is a loving God in all of this? Not fair!
Amy Carmichael left a comfortable life and set aside her own dreams to follow the Lord’s call to India as one of its earliest Christian missionaries. Soon after she arrived, an accident changed her life. She stepped in a hole and badly injured a foot. For the remainder of her life and ministry, this foot caused acute pain and discomfort with every step.
That’s not fair, Lord. She left all to share the wonderful news of the Savior with those who had never heard, and you allowed this to happen to her? What were you thinking?
The Decision We Must Make
When life is not fair, we each have a decision to make. We can say:
(1) I don’t see God or understand anything that is happening. If there is a God, he doesn’t care about me. He’s the ultimate absentee father. People in Malachi’s day thought the same thing:
“You have spoken arrogantly against me,” says the Lord. “Yet you ask, ‘What have we said against you?’ “You have said, ‘It is futile to serve God. What do we gain by carrying out his requirements and going about like mourners before the Lord Almighty? But now we call the arrogant blessed. Certainly evildoers prosper, and even when they put God to the test, they get away with it.’” Malachi 3:13-15 NIV
(2) Or, we can choose to stand on what we do know about God and proclaim:
I don’t understand where God is right now. Nor do I know yet His purpose in these circumstances.
What I do know is that He cares for me with a lavish love and wants what is best for my life. He will use this circumstance for my good in molding me into His image. I can’t see His hand right now, but I trust His heart completely.
Isaiah 55:8-9 NIV: “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” God is a righteous judge. This life is a training ground for the life to come.
The Betrayal Barrier
Dr. R. T. Kendall, the senior minister of Westminster Chapel in London, refers to this as the “betrayal barrier.” It is his opinion that 100 percent of all true believers will go through a period when God seems to let them down. This may be as a new Christian just starting out, or one in the middle or at end of life. Most people bail out or turn their back on God without giving Him the opportunity to “work everything together for good to those who love God” (Romans 8:28). Dr. Kendall believes over 90% of us fail to break through this feeling of betrayal and abandonment by God.
But what about those God-fearing believers who hang on all the tighter to God when things seem out of control? Joseph held fast to his faith and God used him to save the lives of a nation suffering a seven-year drought. When Job refused the advice “to curse God and die,” the Lord God took note and restored to him overabundantly above all that he could ask or imagine. The Bible says in Job 42:12 NIV, “The Lord blessed the latter part of Job’s life more than the former part.” Because Daniel remained faithful, King Darius issued a decree to his vast empire that all must fear, worship and reverence the living God of Daniel.
Close to Home
A close couple friend of ours received the devastating news that the wife had a very fast aggressive cancer. They called to tell us the diagnosis. Though their hearts were rupturing, they stated with quiet confidence: “No one knows what this year will bring. But one thing is for sure. He will be with us and He is enough.”
Another friend of ours was given a death sentence by her doctor. “Well, Lord, I guess I’ll see You sooner than I thought,” she said to herself. Ben, a seventeen-year-old relative is a scholar and athlete. He was looking forward to his last year of high school when cancer came from his blind side and knocked him down. Ben’s response? “I had planned to enter my senior year, but God has me on a different path now.”
How Will You Respond?
Every demand on me as a child of the Living God is a demand on the One who lives inside me. Our commitment to each other goes beyond any circumstances the world, the flesh or the devil can throw at me. Proverbs 24:10 NKJV says: “If you faint in the day of adversity, your strength is small.” Psalm 1 and Jeremiah 17:7-8 tell us how to build our strength in the Lord. We are to send our roots down deep and wide to tap into the unending strength of the Lord. He will walk through the dark way with us and bring us out on the other side. We can claim with the prophet Nehemiah that “The joy of the Lord is my strength.”
This life is not fair. But for us believers, the next life is totally fair.”1
1(c) 2012, Sally Philbrick Smith, “Come Alone with Me” 3, Used by permission. All Rights Reserved.
Personal Words from Guest Sally Philbrick Smith
As a young mother, the Holy Spirit pierced my spirit by saying: “If you do not record what I am doing in your life, you will forget my works and blessings.” After 40 years of journaling, the Lord then led me to put selected stories into a booklet for others. “Come Alone With Me” is a result of my obedience to Him.
*This is one of Sally’s longer devotionals, but I felt it had an important message we all need to hear often. She also wrote two others: “Come Alone with Me,” and “Come Alone with Me” 2. Sally’s strong faith is exemplified in her personal stories and devotions. I pray it will encourage your heart as it did mine.
My Personal Prayer for You
Lord, when life is not fair, how easy it is for us to jump to the conclusion that You don’t care. Forgive us when we respond too quickly in our haste to blame someone or something–even You. Thank You that You love us passionately and want us to trust You even more in uncertain times like the ones in which we live. Nothing will ever seem right or fair in this life, because sin is a part of our world. But You will work out everything for our good–if we will trust Your timing and respond to You as our Sovereign Lord and Savior.
You will give us peace in our hearts even in the midst of unfairness, confusion, and disappointment in our lives and in our world. And one day, You will turn the tables. Every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that You are indeed Lord. You will bring true justice, wholeness, and fairness. And those who choose to respond to Your loving invitation of salvation will see and experience Your perfection and beauty forever. Death will be no more. Thank You for Your promises, Lord.
Questions about God’s faithfulness, His plans and purpose for your life, and how He longs to meet the needs of your heart? Discover your faithful Father’s heart in Day-votions® with Your Faithful Father: 90 Days with the One Who Longs to Meet All Your Needs.
It’s Your Turn
What about you? How have you responded when life is not fair? What did God teach you about Himself during that time? I love to hear from readers. You can always write me through my contact page. Just fill out the basic name and address info, and then the email will come to me. I will never share your name or info with anyone without your permission.
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