“Lord, you always give me justice when I bring a case before you. So let me bring you this complaint: Why are the wicked so prosperous? Why are evil people so happy?“ (Jeremiah 12:1, NLT)
Did your daddy tell you growing up that life isn’t fair? Mine did. He always said it as kind of a cynical joke…and I never really “got” the joke. That is, until I got out on my own. Now I say it to my kids.
The funny thing is that every different “group” in our country (and we love identity politics these days) probably feels like life is most unfair to their particular group. “You think you got it bad…” they say. So we’ve watched over the last 20 years as our government has tried to rectify these problems. Phrases like “equal rights” and “even playing fields” are common phrases today. We think life should be fair.
Trying to make everything fair may work for human governments (I don’t think it works), but what about God? Have you ever thought God wasn’t fair in his dealings? If you have, you stand in good company. Jeremiah complained to God about it. So did Job and King David and Asaph, the psalmist. By the way, this is our topic on Sunday. Read Jeremiah 12 and Psalm 73. These men all brought complaints against the Lord.
But whether you want God to be more fair or a government to be more fair, you run into the same problem. Who decides what is fair? What you consider fair, I may consider partial or biased. And when I sit in judgment on God’s fairness, I’m basing that judgment on my own perspective.
Jeremiah and Job made their complaints because they didn’t like what they were going through at the time. King David brought up God’s fairness because he was surrounded by enemies. Asaph asked the question out of envy for others’ lots in life.
My point is, because of our own self-centeredness and limited perspective, we can’t always determine what is fair and what isn’t. Only an all-knowing, all-loving, transcendent and righteous God can make those determinations. Only he can truly balance judgment and mercy, love and justice. Try as we might, good intentions or bad, we cannot.
Thank God He doesn’t let us make all those decisions… And I, for one, and very happy God doesn’t give me what I deserve!