Thursday, June 30, 2011
That being blessed doesn't mean life will be fair!
I wish I'd figured this one out several years ago. My husband has often told me that I rankle too much over things not being fair. I think it's easy to unconsciously follow this logic that comes across as sound, yet the premises and conclusion are flawed. It is this.
God blesses those He loves
Unfair treatment/events are not a blessing
Therefore, unfair things don't happen to those God loves
This is not a valid logical progression for more than one reason. 1) The conclusion doesn't follow automatically from the two premises. Although God does indeed bless those He loves, and although most people might agree that things we deem 'unfair' are not blessings, the two premises taken together don't add up to the conclusion that people God love can expect nothing BUT blessings. I think we can expect a combination, because even though He blesses us, we still live in a fallen world which is subject to the free will of many, many capricious people. 2) The opinion of whether something should be deemed unfair may be subjective anyway.
Anyway, enough philosophical ramblings. The fact is that annoying, unfair things do happen so we shouldn't be surprised or taken-aback when they happen to us. And when we look at the evidence of people in the Bible who God was clearly blessing, several unfair things happened to them too. For example:
1) God was with Joseph but he was still sold to Egyptian slave traders by jealous brothers and later, framed unfairly by a lying woman with a grudge.
2) God was with David but he was still hounded and pursued by a jealous and bitter rival, King Saul, who was higher in the royal hierarchy for several years after David had been anointed.
3) God was with Jacob but he was still tricked by an unscrupulous uncle to devote twice as long as he'd expected looking after livestock and land that were not his own.
4) God was with Isaac but he still had his wells clogged up by crazy, jealous enemies (and people who'll fill up anyone's well in a parched, famine-stricken land are crazy indeed).
5) And how about poor old John the Baptist? God was clearly with him before he was ever conceived, but he ended up holed up in prison, after all the work he'd done for Jesus, hearing about the miracles Jesus was doing for other people. Surely it would have occurred to him to say, "Hey, it's not fair, what about me?" He was only human.
So it happens! Do you think it would have occurred to the five men I mentioned above to cry to God, "Hey, this isn't fair!"? When annoyances and trials have come my way in the past, I've been quick to assume that doors are closing and that I'm out of favour. In fact, Jesus did his best to prepare his disciples to expect that trials and annoyances will come, to help them not fall into the trap of getting depressed and making mistaken assumptions about God's love and intentions for them.
What God does promise is not to prevent all unfair trials and annoyances from reaching us but to work through them and transform them into things that have helped build our characters. Our lives, including all the unfairnesses, are eventually woven into the good, overall tapestry as blessings. I think we can safely trust that all the events of our lives will turn out for good and that God's specific promises in His Word can be relied on, even when circumstances don't look as if they're taking place. (And see my former post To Choose my Weapons and Seeds Wisely for an overview on the law of sowing and reaping.)
- Joseph got audience with the Pharoah, was able to offer his help, and found himself suddenly raised from the dungeon to second-in-charge of the whole country, surely one of the greatest promotions in history.
- Jacob's son, Judah, through Jacob's set-up marriage to Leah, became the direct ancestor of Jesus.
- David became king when he hung onto God's promise and didn't give up.
- Isaac made peace with those who plagued him, and continued to prosper.
- And John, well, poor old John reminds us that this life is not the end of the story.
So my simple summary, without wasting any words, is this. LIFE ISN'T FAIR BUT IT IS STILL REALLY, REALLY GOOD!