It’s just not fair

Do you remember those days when you were young, when you would round up the neighborhood kids for a game of baseball, and everyone would come out with gloves and bats? Did your Mom yell out to you as you headed for the field, “Now, you kids remember to play fair?”

Some years after those innocent days playing ball, most of us learned the harder and colder lessons of life. Perhaps we had not gotten what we deserved, some dirty dog had treated you poorly, and that very same parent that looked at you and said, “You better get used to it, because life just isn’t fair.”

One of the rites of passage into adulthood is the realization that life just is not always fair. And we do not always get what we deserve. Bad things happen to good people, and — sometimes even harder to comprehend — good things happen to bad people. And we often look to heaven and wonder, “What is up with that, God?”

The Declaration of Independence says: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.” And while it is true that all men are equal in God’s sight, and all citizens of this country are supposed to have equal rights and protection under the law, I think that we know that things are not always equal.

A number of years ago, I had a friend that got more than his share in life. He was good looking, athletic, intelligent, he could sing and play music, he was a black belt in martial arts. He was excellent in everything he did without even having to work hard at it. And he was so stinking modest and humble, you could not even hate him. It seems that my friend had more than his fair share.

On the other hand, there are folks that seem to get the short straw in all of life.  Illness, poverty, lack of opportunities, and trouble seems to follow them like a shadow. And it seems that life is just not fair to them either. And I do not know why these things are, but they are any way.

In the Bible, we are not promised to be treated fairly in this life. We are assured of trials and tribulations, persecutions and difficulties, and never are we assured that everyone will like us, treat us well, or give us what we deserve. It is not fair, but it is the reality of living in this fallen and broken world. Sickness comes to those who have maintained their health. Accidents happen to the most careful drivers. Cheaters sometimes prosper and good-hearted folks on occasion get a bad deal. And if this life is all that we have, we would be a miserable bunch.  But this life is not all we have.

I remain confident that one day everything will be set right. When the day of the Lord comes, the wrongs will be redeemed, the faithful will be recognized, and the tragedies that we face in this lifetime will be forgotten. “And there will be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away” (Revelation 21:4).

Even more remarkable, on that Day of the Lord, we will not then get what we deserve, either. When we stand with the redeemed at the gates of heaven, we will be blessed beyond measure, far more than we should ever receive, much more than what is fair for sinners like us. A cornerstone of the Christian faith is that God will not give us what we deserve, will not treat us fairly, but will demonstrate His gracious and abundant love in eternity.

Our rewards and blessings are not for this world. Our lives here are sometimes challenging and difficult, and we all face circumstances that we do not understand. That is part of what life is made of, and we simply accept it and do our best. But we never lose hope, we never give up, and we keep our eyes focused on the goodness of God. He will overcome.


— The Rev. Brian Hotaling is the senior pastor at Charles Town Baptist Church, 211 E. Congress St., Charles Town. Services are held on Sunday at 8:30 and 11 a.m., Wednesdays at 7:00 p.m. Come as you are.

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