Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Life's not fair

We live in a broken world. I would say something like, "No one knows that better than me," but a more accurate way to put it would be to say, "No one knows that better than every single person who's ever lived." Because no one escapes the brokenness. No one gets out unscathed.

Sometimes it seems unfair, the way things go down. Why does one person die from cancer and another survive? Why does one family's house burn down while their neighbors remain safe? Two men might work hard their whole lives, putting in long hours and sacrificing themselves for their jobs, only to have one of them retire in contentment and comfort while the other ends his days as a miserable, wretched, broken shell of the man he once was.

Doesn't seem fair.

But of course, saying something isn't fair begs the question: what is fair? What does it even mean? Merriam Webster tells me it means "marked by impartiality and honesty: free from self-interest, prejudice, or favoritism (1) : conforming with the established rules." This definition doesn't clear the matter up because different people and different situations have different "established rules," so what is fair to one person at one time, may not be fair to another in a different circumstance.

For example, my 2-year-old and my 9-year-old have different rules. What I expect from my older, I do not necessarily expect from my younger. The amount of ice cream I would give my older is WAY DIFFERENT than the amount of ice cream I would give my younger. She would say that's not fair. I would say it is.

This whole fairness thing is enough to drive anybody crazy. I mean, if you really think about it, if you dwell on the injustice of it all, you could lose a lot of sleep. You could lose a lot of hope, because life is really, really hard. Sometimes it downright sucks. But I believe there's another way to look at it.

Every day we get is more than fair. Every breath we take, every laugh, even every tear we shed and every stab of pain we feel, is more than fair. Because what would be fair would be if we got nothing. I mean, I didn't do a single thing to contribute to me being born on this earth, did you? I didn't make my brain or my lungs or my heart. I didn't set up the world or create oxygen. Did you? We get all those things despite having done nothing to earn them, nothing to deserve them, nothing to justify our continued use of them.

In fact, usually I do things that would justify having all those privileges taken away. You know, if we were being fair. Because I take things away from my kids when they don't follow the rules, so why shouldn't I lose my privilege to keep breathing when I use the air I take in to form words that hurt others? If we're being fair, the muscles in my hands should be taken away and put in the "timeout box" if I use them inappropriately, until I can earn them back. The brain in my head should be taken away until I can demonstrate that I'm mature enough for a second chance.

But it doesn't work like that, does it? Instead, a gracious God has given us everything - everything we are and everything around us - to do with what we will. We can literally curse His name and spit in His face, do damage to those around us with our hands or our tongues, despise the very bodies we didn't deserve in the first place, and still wake up in the morning to do it all again. How is that fair?

It's not. It's grace.

So Thank God life's not fair. Otherwise, we might actually get what we deserve.

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