Early in January of this year I proclaimed we were banning the word unfair in our home. It had become too common a word amongst our kids. “Her muffin is bigger than mine, that’s not fair.” “It’s unfair, he has less school to do.” The situations were always petty and never actually “unfair”. I would respond in typical parenting fashion, “Some children have no food to eat” or “You should be thankful you get to learn to read and write”. I realize now that my attempts to teach my children contentment and gratitude was the Lord preparing my heart and mind. For the last five and a half weeks I have been tempted nearly everyday to say, “It’s not fair”.
God, in His goodness, reminds me what is really fair.
Losing a healthy child to a “freak accident” feels unfair. Trying to parent children through grief while walking in my own grief feels unfair. Feeling like my time of mourning was in some way cut short by a pandemic feels unfair. The list could go on and on. My tongue has sores and scars from having to bite it so often. God, in His goodness, reminds me what is really fair. “For the wages of sin is death.” What I deserve is eternal damnation and separation from Christ. I could never amount enough good works or righteous behavior to earn God’s favor. God is Holy, so God is perfectly just. God is also perfectly loving. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only son, that whoever believes in Him would not perish but have eternal life.” The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life. I do not serve a God that is unfair. I serve a sovereign God that is both perfectly just and perfectly loving. I cannot claim to be surprised by suffering in a broken world. Christ himself suffered.
“If I had really cared, as I thought I did, about the sorrows of the world, I should not have been so overwhelmed when my own sorrow came.”C.S. Lewis
I love to read and usually set a reading goal for the year. Only two months into the year, I found that the topics and type of books I’m reading have drastically changed. Suffering, loss, grief, lament now fill the books I pick up. While feeling overwhelmed and I that I simply wanted to read something familiar, I picked up the book A Grief Observed by C.S. Lewis. I realize this book is also about loss and grief, but I have been reading C.S. Lewis for years and it felt like sitting with an old friend. I had already read this book before, but I’ll admit, it didn’t mean much to me the first time. This time, I highlighted most of the book and wept while reading it. While thinking about how “unfair” things felt, I was struck by the following passages. Lewis wrote, “I had been warned-I warned myself- not to reckon on worldly happiness. We were even promised sufferings.” “Of course it is different when the thing happens to oneself, not to others, and in reality, not imagination.” And most convicting, “If I had really cared, as I thought I did, about the sorrows of the world, I should not have been so overwhelmed when my own sorrow came.”
I felt I could have written those words myself. As we approach Easter, it is harder for me to feel that life is unfair. “Man of sorrows! what a name, For the Son of God who came. Ruined sinners to reclaim! Hallelujah, what a Savior!”
I believe there is such a thing as holy grief. Christ was called a man of sorrows, acquainted with grief. I know there can also be sinful self pity. When I struggle with thinking things are unfair, I’m wallowing in self pity. When I submit to God’s plan, picking up my cross and following him, I’m suffering an allowed grief. Instead of biting my tongue when I’m tempted to say how unfair things seem, may I proclaim Hallelujah what a Savior!
When I struggle with thinking things are unfair, I’m wallowing in self pity. When I submit to God’s plan, picking up my cross and following him, I’m suffering an allowed grief.