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Faith Matters: When life isn’t fair, faith calls us to answer

Life isn’t fair. Never was and never will be.

We are supposed to be born equal, but that isn’t so.

Some are born healthy and whole, others come into the world with all kinds of physical and mental handicaps.

Some have wise and loving fathers, others have a daddy who is a fool and still others have fathers who aren’t man enough to accept responsibility.

I was in Seattle a while back and went for a walk between meetings. As I walked, I noticed what appeared to be a brand new Jaguar automobile parked along the curb. As I slowed down to admire it, a young man spoke to me. He was dressed in working clothes, but he was clean and well groomed, and he asked me for a quarter.

A seventy five or eighty thousand dollar car sitting by the curb and a young man on the sidewalk asking for quarters. Life just isn’t fair!

But jumping to conclusions isn’t fair, either. Maybe the owner of the car has given away the price of dozens of cars to help the poor. Maybe he worked long and hard for it, or maybe he has a rich uncle. I don’t know who owns the car. For all I know, it could belong to the young man begging for quarters. Either way, we add to the unfairness by judging.

We don’t know what advantages and disadvantages that other people have used to overcome or failed to use wisely. There is nothing wrong with having health and intelligence and wise and loving parents, and there is nothing wrong with having wealth. There is no sin in being poor, either, or being born without all of the advantages.

Life isn’t fair. Never was and never will be, but life of faith calls upon us to do something about that unfairness.

That means that those who have wise and loving parents will “adopt” those who don’t. Those who have health and strength will help with the healing process and those who have wealth will share with those who don’t. On the other hand, poor people will strive to make the very best use of what little they do have and make use of every opportunity to practice fairness and justice.

Life isn’t fair. Never was and never will be, but the life of faith sees the unfairness for what it is and works and prays to overcome it.

There will always be people who drive Jaguars and others who panhandle for quarters. We will never be able to change that but in our faith response to God and in our attempt to serve and obey, we can be fair. The owner of the Jaguar and the panhandler are both God’s children. Life isn’t fair but the response of faith is always filled with justice and fairness.

Floyd Emerson is a retired pastor who served churches in California, Pennsylvania, Washington and Oregon. He grew up near The Dalles and was baptized, confirmed and ordained, in the U.C.C. Congregational Church of The Dalles.


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