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A Slice Of Life To Go is an online Christian blog written by Todd Thompson. It encourages people to see the beauty in ordinary moments and to know God’s unconditional, unfailing love in everyday life.

It’s Not Fair

February 5th, 2007

I don’t know why I ever decided to keep it. It makes me mad every time I look at it.

The cover of the Sports Illustrated from 1975 says, “Cowboys Win A Shocker”. The Minnesota Vikings had the playoff game in the bag. Roger Staubach and the Cowboys were down and time was running out. On a desperation play that came to be known as “The Hail Mary”, Staubach lofted a pass downfield in the direction of Drew Pearson who, with evil intent and malice aforethought, blatantly pushed Vikings’ defensive back Nate Wright into the turf before catching the ball on his hip. He went into the end zone not as the conquering hero who won the game but as a kid caught with both hands in the cookie jar. He knew, as did everyone in the stadium and everyone watching on national television, that he had pushed off. Offensive pass interference. He was looking for the penalty flag.

The flag that never came.

Cowboys win. Vikings get hosed.

The biggest no-call in the history of Vikings football. That Drew Pearson years later admitted he pushed off didn’t make me feel any better.

It’s not fair.

It bothers me to know that my worthy childhood heros like Fran Tarkenton, Alan Page, Jim Marshall, Carl Eller and Bill Brown never won a Super Bowl while a bunch of undeserving Philistines like the Cowboys have won many. It’s not fair! 

Football is just a game. But what do we do when the calls don’t go our way in real life?

What do you do when someone with less tenure, less experience, less education and lower performance gets promoted ahead of you? What do you do when your company down-sizes you out of a job the same week you find out you’re expecting a baby? What do you do when the doctor says the tumor is malignant? What do you do when your character and reputation are tainted and misrepresented by another person? What do you say when you come out of the store to find your car window smashed and your stereo stolen? What do you do when lightening hits and burns your house to the ground?

They say “fair” is where you buy cotton candy. That’s true. I’ve bought it there before. But life? Life certainly isn’t fair.

Maybe our expectations are unrealistic. We live in a fallen world full of broken people. Present company included. Given the systemic corruption of our very nature, is it realistic to expect fairness? To use a farm analogy, expecting justice and fairness from a broken world is like putting a milk bucket under a bull. It just ain’t gonna happen.

Sometimes life isn’t fair and we had nothing to do with it. We were just eating our cotton candy and got blindsided by an injustice. Sometimes life isn’t fair and we had something to do with it and the mess we find ourselves in is our own doing. Regardless, God is very up front about the fact that life post-Eden isn’t fair. He reminds us throughout the Bible that our sin made “fair” the rare exception and not the rule. King David said, “Many are the afflictions of the righteous.” (Psalm 34) Jeremiah was viscerally descriptive in his anguish over the sad circumstances of his life. “He has broken my teeth with gravel and trampled me in the dust.” (Lamentations 3) The assumption of the New Testament writers was that trials and tribulations were to be expected. Even Jesus Himself in His Sermon on the Mount talks about the poor, the oppressed, those who mourn and those who are persecuted falsely. Life is hard and God knows that. 

We can’t change the fact that life isn’t fair. We can be glad that God is bigger than our circumstances. Much as we might not understand it, He may be doing His best work in and through us in the middle of our most painful situations. We’re wasting our time if we try to make life “fair”, then complain when it isn’t. Life’s hard. That’s reality. Whatever our circumstances, we need to align ourselves with what God wants to do to make us more like Jesus. It’s painful and we won’t do it perfectly. Sometimes we submit to God’s hand kicking and screaming. But God is lovingly patient and committed to making us more like His Son. He knows that persevering through hard times is part of that process.

Life is hard. Painfully so. But God is good. He promises never to quit on you. In the middle your “it’s not fair!”, His grace is sufficient.

“For I am confident that He (God) who began a good work in you will continue to perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.” – Philippians 1:6