Life often goes from #039;unfair#039; to blessings

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, September 20, 2005

A campus pastor tells the story of a student who came to his office and was talking about life in general on campus when he asked, "Why is life so unfair?"

He was not in a crisis; his classes were going well, his grades were better than he had hoped for, life was pretty good.

But that was the problem - life was too good.

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It seemed to him that he was getting all the breaks while a good friend of his was trying as hard as he could to do well and seemingly never got a break.

So, with some feeling of guilt over his good fortune he wanted to know why life was so unfair.

Most of us ask that question when things are not going well.

When a young person is snatched out of this world by an accident or disease, we often hear people say, "It's not fair!"

Or after a series of disappointments, in response to someone's "you can't win 'em all," we say, "it would be nice to win one once in a while."

So many things in life seem unfair!

There are numerous scripture stories of people for whom life seems unfair.

I think of Joseph, who was separated from his family at a young age because his brothers were jealous of him and sold him to some traveling merchants.

Growing up in a strange land with no contact with his family, he must have felt life was unfair.

Years later Joseph realized that God had transformed the unfairness into the opportunity to save his family from starvation during a severe famine.

Then there was Jacob who lived as a servant to his potential father-in-law for seven years to be approved to marry the girl he loved.

But after the seven years he was required to serve another seven years before Laban would consent for Jacob to marry the girl he wanted.

That wasn't how things were supposed to work out.

Life was unfair.

Yet, even in the midst of the unfairness, Jacob was not abandoned by God.

The scripture story in Genesis 30 tells us that God prospered Jacob despite life's unfairness and eventually he was allowed to return to the land of his fathers.

Life still seemed unfair, but Jacob discovered that God could even transform unfairness into something productive and good.

In the New Testament, the apostle Paul expresses his belief that in the hands of God unfairness loses its sting.

He not only states that in all things God works for good for those who love God and who are called according to God's purpose, but he also tells how that proved true in his own life.

Hardship, distress, persecution, famine, nakedness, peril, sword - Paul had faced them all.

None of them were deserved.

All this happened as a result of Paul being treated unfairly at the hands of those who found fault with the gospel he proclaimed.

Paul says that in all of this, the followers of God are more than conquerors because of God's love through Jesus Christ which overcomes the unfairness of life.

As we experience life today many things seem unfair.

And it is still God's presence that enables life to be lived in the midst of unfairness with level-headedness, calmness and grace.

Life is not fair, but the question is not, "Why?"

The question is:

"How is God transforming life's unfairness to me into life's blessing?"

Daryl G. Fourman has been pastor of Chesapeake United Methodist Church for the past three years.