He had given all to his company. He had beaten every growth target they had thrown at him. But he had become a victim of boardroom manoeuvrings. With possible racist overtones. He had to go. Like I said, the situation sucked. And like two old men, we shook our heads and said “life isn’t fair.”
Life isn’t fair. The evidence is overwhelming. You go shopping in Asuncion. The supermarket catches fire. The management is afraid that people will take advantage of the situation and loot the store. They order the doors locked. Your three-month year old child dies in the fire. Together with 463 other people.
You are a committed civil servant. As a Christian, you seek to practice servant leadership in your work. As part of your duties, you have to take a trip in a helicopter. Inexplicably, the helicopter crashes killing all on board. Life just isn’t fair.
Unfairness was on a roll last week, at least in Malaysia. A father feared that in the event of a divorce, he would lose his three children. There was no way he was going to lose his kids. He loved them too much. So he strangles them. And then he hangs himself.
Life isn’t fair. It’s one of the life lessons I tell the kids. They better learn early.
Strangely, we encounter the same unfairness in the Scriptures as well. Remember King Josiah? He shines like a beacon at the end of 2 Kings (Chapters 22, 23). He institutes key spiritual reforms in Judah. He tries to rid the country of idolatry. He reinstitutes the Passover. And what happens to him? He gets killed in battle. While many of his spiritually dead predecessors got to live to a ripe old age. Life sucks.
At the heart of the bible is the greatest injustice of all. In love, God came to humankind as a human. Only to be framed arrested, tortured and killed. Life is unfair. Only this time injustice took on more than it could chew.
On the third day, Jesus rose again from the dead. Injustice took God on. And God won. The Scriptures do not end at 2 Kings 23. They end in the book of Revelation. And there we see that God has the last laugh.
But we know this only because God opened the curtains of time for us. In the book of Revelation He gives us a peek at how things all pan out in the end. He needs to. Otherwise we are all candidates for cynicism and despair.
God is big enough to turn injustice on its head. He used the worst injustice of history to correct all injustices. Therefore Paul can confidently promise us in Romans 8:28:
“And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to His purpose for them.” NLT
God causes “everything” to work for the good, including the painful injustices of life.
It was a truth that Paul shares with us from the crucible of his life. He was not disobedient to the heavenly vision. His reward? Jail, whippings, stonings, shipwrecks, hunger and cold. (2 Corinthians 11:21?27)
Yet he was not overcome by despair or cynicism. He ran his race faithfully to the end. And with joy. Clearly he didn’t build his theology on his experiences. He built his theology, and his life, on the truth of the risen Christ and all that that meant. He said so himself.
“And what value was there in fighting wild beasts —those men of Ephesus—if there will be no resurrection from the dead? If there is no resurrection, ‘Let’s feast and get drunk, for tomorrow we die.'” 1 Corinthians 15:32
“But the fact is that Christ has been raised form the dead. He has become the first of a great harvest of those who will be raised to life again.” 1 Corinthians 15:20
We too need to be armed with the same theology. Because everyday bad things happen to good people. Because more often than not, we experience life as being unfair. We need to be armed with the same theology to beat back the daily assaults on our spirit and our sanity
I thank God that my friend who had to resign had known his Lord for sometime now. And he had a wife who is also a person of faith. Therefore they were not defeated by their experience of injustice.
Instead, they saw the whole experience as a wake up call to refocus on God and on people. My friend shared that he had been so focused on work that God and people had begun to slip away from his radar. He responded to the whole episode in faith. And God had already showed him some very promising new job options.
My friend’s experience served to renew my faith. I have had my share of the unfairness of life. I really believe that God is in control of my life and that He will work all things out in the end. Yet I am still struggling to rid my life of anger and bitterness.
But I am making some progress I think. I need to. Because with word, but especially with life, I need to teach my children that indeed life is unfair. But that God is bigger than life.
Your brother, Soo-Inn Tan