Why is life unfair?


Where does the Bible say that life is unfair? Why is life unfair? Who made life unfair? I don't understand. I get so tired of hearing this every time someone says that something is unfair.


"Behold, these are the ungodly, who are always at ease; they increase in riches. Surely I have cleansed my heart in vain, and washed my hands in innocence. For all day long I have been plagued, and chastened every morning" (Psalm 73:12-14).

Most people tend to cry "Unfair!" when events in life don't give them an advantage over other people. Few people look for true equity; most want the odds stacked in their favor. You can see this when God explained how He judges people by who they are and not by who they were (Ezekiel 18:21-24). The response was, "'The way of the Lord is not fair.' Hear now, O house of Israel, is it not My way which is fair, and your ways which are not fair?" (Ezekiel 18:25). Why was that? Well, everyone likes the fact that God forgives us of our sins when we repent. It's great to know that all our mistakes won't be held against us. But God points out that it goes the other direction as well. If we turn to sin, all our righteous deeds in the past won't be remembered either. Because the deck isn't stacked in man's fair, man tends to cry, "Unfair!"

People also have this idea that good people ought to have a good life. This is what Asaph talked about in Psalm 73. It seems unfair that a righteous man struggles through life while wicked people have all the fun. Yet, the problem is not seeing things accurately.

"If I had said, "I will speak thus," behold, I would have been untrue to the generation of Your children. When I thought how to understand this, it was too painful for me - until I went into the sanctuary of God; then I understood their end. Surely You set them in slippery places; You cast them down to destruction" (Psalm 73:15-18).

Because we live short lives, we tend to look at the immediate consequences and forget that there are also long term consequences. Sure, wicked people have all sorts of "fun" because of their lack of restraint, but the fun usually carries consequences which aren't nearly so fun -- both in this life and the one to come.

Another reason people call out "unfair!" is when things don't go the way they want them to go. We tend to have a selfish streak in us. So when Susie is told to wash the dishes, she cries "It's unfair! Johnny gets to watch TV and I have to do dishes." The fact that it was Johnny's turn at doing dishes never enters into Susie's view of life. But then people have a tendency of accusing other people what they, themselves, do.

Finally, life isn't always fair in that the best person doesn't always win. "I returned and saw under the sun that- the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, nor bread to the wise, nor riches to men of understanding, nor favor to men of skill; but time and chance happen to them all. For man also does not know his time: like fish taken in a cruel net, like birds caught in a snare, so the sons of men are snared in an evil time, when it falls suddenly upon them" (Ecclesiastes 9:11-12). I remember watching an Olympic race. One woman was favored to win, but during the race, she stumbled, fell, and twisted her ankle. She forced herself across the finish line, but she didn't win. It was determined later that a small stone happened to be on the track, overlooked until she stepped on it.

We expect full control over what we do and what we decide, and when we suddenly find out how little of our own life is really in our hands, we cry out "Unfair!" But the reality is that our expectations were misplaced. We were trying to claim something we never had and can never gain -- complete control of what happens to us.

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