It’s not fair.
So said some of the wisest of children at the bruised end of injustice.
It’s not fair having to move to the back of the line when someone has slipped in undetected by the teacher and cut.
Cut you out of your rightful position.
You were blithely going along, minding your own business, doing the right thing and this…this person….this selfish, entitled, ungrateful person elbow-jabbed right past you and took your spot.
You’ve been re-positioned, moved aside, cast down.
You’ve been left.
You’ve been cut out of line.
Cut out of your job.
Cut out of your family.
Cut out of your country.
The stroke of a CEO’s pen, the closing of a door, the whizz of a bullet.
Life’s gut piercing elbow jabs, these.
Isn’t anyone going to do something about this? Doesn’t anyone see what just happened?
The injustice of it all can be too much to bear.
“In my futile life I have seen everything: there is a righteous man who perishes in spite of his righteousness, and there is a wicked man who lives long in spite of his evil.”
So said one of the wisest of men near the end of his days.
“But as for me, my feet had almost slipped;
I had nearly lost my foothold.
For I envied the arrogant
when I saw the prosperity of the wicked.”
The mystery of inequity.
A wonder, this thing called Un-Fair-Ness.
One steps into the arena of old age, having been buffeted by abuse, abandonment, poverty and hands gnarling from disease, while another one, the one who abandoned, is seemingly unaware of the emotional cost others have had to pay for his choices. This one lives where the fireflies dance and the grass slopes green into a grove of trees, his hands not gnarled, instead muscled from the planing of boards and the swinging of hammers.
The first smiles past the wince of all her cares.
The other whistles because he hasn’t a care.
Life is so unfair….all of the time.
“They have no struggles;
their bodies are healthy and strong.
They are free from common human burdens;
they are not plagued by human ills.”
Jesus followers, God lovers, do-ers of good, they so often find themselves at the edge of a cliff only to have the winds relentlessly pounding at their backs, pushing pushing pushing. It takes everything, every heal digging bit, to keep from being tossed over the side.
“Surely in vain I have kept my heart pure
and have washed my hands in innocence.
All day long I have been afflicted,
and every morning brings new punishments.”
The cheaters and the stealers and the mockers and the smirkers seem to dodge bullet after bullet after bullet. They keep making more and more money. They keep their health and the spring in their step. They never, ever have to push past a crowd to grab His healing hem.
The coffee-skinned girl lies on a guerney, rolled to her left side and wrapped in a simple white sheet. This young woman, full of mouth and cheek-boned beauty only looks up. Her eyes never meet the interviewer’s, who, bent low, whispers questions. Days before the girl found herself chained to a tree while men from a warring village broke her apart for their own pleasure. She, ravaged to the point of no longer able to bear children, lies on a cot, serene and pristine, her eyes wide up. My eyes are wide brimming.
What is she looking at?
“For the brokenness of the daughter of my people I am broken; I mourn, dismay has taken hold of me. Is there no balm in Gilead? Is there no physician there? Why then has not the health of the daughter of my people been restored?”
The interviewer tells her she must be angry at her perpetrators and at the incredible violence done to her.
In a whisper laced musical, she says, “I love Jesus. Who am I to judge these men? That is God’s to do. I trust Him.”
Who says this?
Who can speak words barely heard, yet when they come out of her mouth they are like a balm covering and seeping and cleansing and forgiving every ravaged, jagged, rugged cut?
Is there no balm in Gilead?
Yes. Yes, there is.
The balm Jesus smeared on another tree.
Only someone who has been in the sanctuary and experienced the Presence can say despite pain and brokenness that fairness and judgment is God’s arena. Only someone who has seen God in this way can leave their enemies with Him. They accept the mystery of inequity, not because they understand it, but because they’ve seen Him.
They keep their eyes wide up.
When I tried to understand all this,
it troubled me deeply
till I entered the sanctuary of God;
then I understood their final destiny.
What does fairness have to do with anything at all when God Himself holds the times, the seasons, the epochs in His hands? He, who has and will make everything right. Jesus, who is Sovereign above anything and anyone invites us into His sanctuary, His dwelling place where we can truly see who He is.
It is there under the weight of His glorious that I really see. I see Him. I see others.
And then I see me.
Without Him, I too, can be a cheater and a stealer and mocker and smirker.
And it is not fairness that I will want.
It is mercy.