For many years George has served as president of a Christian ministry. Before that, he was a pastor and a professor. He had dedicated his whole life to the spiritual well-being of others. Now he is in his early sixties and has began to think about retirement. Maybe, after all these years of loyal service, he could slow down a little and enjoy his golden years.
Then he noticed some chest pain. Probably just indigestion, he thought, but maybe he should get it checked out. Sure he had put a few pounds on, but he was really quite fit. A swimmer all his life, he went to the gym regularly. Still, this new chest pain was worth a doctor’s visit,especially when he started having trouble breathing.
The doctor was concerned enough to send George for some tests, and the tests showed a disturbing mass in his lung. More tests confirmed it: lung cancer. The condition has four stages, and George was already in stage three. Testing and treatment soon become a full time job. As he waited in doctor’s offices and hospitals, his new reality began to sink in. He needed to get his house in order, because he might not live for much longer.
George is a mature believer. In his various ministries, he has coached many others through similar crises, but even he was not immune to that gut-wrenching question: “”Why me, God?” His co-workers were stunned during one staff meeting when he broke down crying and left the room. They had looked to him for strength, but now he was struggling.
Sometimes life is just not fair. What did George ever do to be snatched away from his family like this, from his ministry, from his many friends? With lung cancer, you think about smoking, but George had not or had never been a smoker, nor had others in his family. He’d lived a healthy lifestyle. Certainly he had not brought this on himself. And if anyone deserved to live a long and healthy life, it was this man. He had given himself in so many ways to so many others, he should get some credit for that, shouldn’t he?
Well, shouldn’t he?
Most of us believe in fairness. One good turn deserves another. You pick up the check today, and I’ll pay next time. In many of our relationships we keep a kind of running tab. We repay kindness with kindness and snubs with snubs. In our human relationships, if a friend owes us a favour and refuses to come through, we feel betrayed. We believe we deserve a better treatment.
We assume that God operates the same way. After all, doesn’t our human sense of fairness derive from God’s eternal justice? It would only make sense for God to honour those who honour him. Good people should get good things in return.
But when we look closely, we can see that the world has never worked like that. Even in the Psalms, we find people complaining that the wicked are prospering at the expense of the righteous. just take a look at Psalms 10 and 73.
So here’s the shocking truth: God isn’t fair, at least not according to our common definitions of fairness. In its totality, the Bible does not promise the righteous person a life of ease, at least not on this earth.
Do not fear, for I am with you , do not be afraid, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my victorious right hand.