Originally published Tuesday, 11 June 2013.
My boys were playing a board game one rainy afternoon. It was down to the last spin. One of my sons got the number he hoped for and crossed the finish line, winning the game. The loser stomped his feet and declared, "That's not fair! He always wins!"
My boys are not alone in their view of life. I often look at the circumstances of my life, my failed dreams, struggles and trials, and think, "It's not fair." I look at the successes of others, their achievements, adventures, and lifestyle and think, "Why them and not me?" And I wonder, why do some people seem to always win and I always lose?
I told my son when he lost the game that God intended it for a reason. I pointed out that when he stomped his feet, yelled and fussed, he was saying that his plan was better than God's. I also reminded him that by focusing on his loss, he missed an opportunity to rejoice with his brother and encourage him for his win.
Good advice for my own heart, wouldn't you say?
My kids often say that life isn't fair. I've told them that if life really were fair, we'd all get what we deserve--eternal death and separation from God. In fact, we don't deserve a single thing, neither life or breath or anything else. Yet God continues to let the rains come down on both the just and unjust (Matthew 5:45). He gives mercy each new morning (Lamentations 3:23). He strengthens the weary and gives peace to the anxious (Isaiah 40:29, Philippians 4:7).
But most importantly, God gives grace. "And from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace" (John 1:16). It is by grace that our hearts are brought from death to life (Ephesians 2, Ezekiel 11). It is by grace that we are saved, secured and sanctified (Ephesians 2:8). And it is the same grace completes the work God began in us.
The truth is, if God treated me fairly, he wouldn't spend so much time refining me. If God treated me as I deserve, I wouldn't have a relationship with him. If God treated me based on what I earned, I would be hopeless and lost. But as the Psalmist penned, "He does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities" (Psalm 103:10). Because God's grace is abundant and his love immense, I can have a relationship with the Creator of the universe. I can come before the throne of grace and receive help in my time of need.
When it comes to looking at how God works in the lives in others and how he chooses to bless them, I have to remember that everyone has their own story. The prose God is writing in my life is for my good and his glory. He is using the circumstances, challenges, and failures to transform me to be more and more like Christ. The individual chapters of my life may seem painful and feel unfair but woven together they form a beautiful tapestry of God's grace at work in the story of my life.
As it turns out, life is not fair. But I wouldn't have it any other way. How about you?