How is it fair that as a faithful Christian I’m constantly struggling yet the unchurched people around me seem to live carefree lives?
Let’s start by looking at what fair means.
Fair means being impartial and honest. In other words, fair means treating everyone equally. If people demand a fair wage, they are not asking for favoritism. They simply are asking to receive what they have earned and deserved.
If that is what fair means, do we really want God to be fair?
The Bible says, “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23) and “The wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23). Fair would mean that we should receive no good thing in this life or the next. Fair would mean that we suffer an eternity in hell.
As Christians, it is easy to act as though we are doing God a favor by being his followers and living for him. The reality is that God has done us the unmerited favor (namely grace!) of causing us to hear the gospel message, come to faith, and live in the peace and joy of eternity secured through Jesus’ blood. And what is that gospel message? God is not fair. Thank the Lord!
Thank God he’s not fair
Psalm 103:10-12 says, “[God] does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.” God loves us too much to give us what we deserve.
God is just. Our sin must be punished, but God could not stand to see us suffer what we have fairly earned. So he sent Jesus to suffer the punishment of our sins. No matter how many times you read it, always read it as though it’s the first time: “God so loved the world that he gave his one and only son” (John 3:16).
It’s just not fair. I sinned, but Jesus died. Jesus earned heaven and suffered abandonment by his heavenly Father on the cross to win heaven for me. It’s just not fair. Thank God!
Hardships can be blessings
When hardships come, we lack the perspective to see the why behind God’s eyes, which see all things. Consider Joseph. He could not see that “in all things God works for the good of those who love him” (Romans 8:28) while he was enduring hatred from his brothers, slavery, or false imprisonment. But through it, God preserved countless lives as well as the line of the Savior. His ways are truly higher than our ways! Sometimes Jesus asks us in hardships, “Can you go through this for me? I cannot tell you why now.” When we see the nail marks in his hands, how can we not say, “Anything for you, Lord. I trust your plan”?
The apostle Paul says, “We must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God” (Acts 14:22). We live in a world opposed to God, and we struggle against our own sinful nature. These truths bring unique hardships for believers. These hardships remind us that we are not home yet. We have a far better future to look forward to.
In the heroes of faith chapter (Hebrews 11), the writer says of those heroes, “They were longing for a better country—a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them” (v. 16). He’s done that for us too!
Have a question, ask it here!
A case study in fairness—a look at Psalm 73
What Christian has not wrestled with the perception that God’s people seem to struggle while the wicked seem to prosper? In Psalm 73, even Asaph (one of the inspired writers of the Bible!) says that he almost lost his faith because of this seeming unfairness.
As Christians, we live in a world with ungodly people who not only prosper but also mock us. Our doubt is not just intellectual but experiential. Asaph was troubled that the wicked prospered, and he envied them.
Read Psalm 73:1-12.
Point to modern examples of what Asaph lists about the prosperity of the wicked. Are you tempted to envy them? Why?
Envy turns to pity
Asaph was led to question whether it was worth it to be a follower of God. Maybe you have struggled with the same question. Asaph came to realize that he was not the one on slippery ground. The unbeliever was (v. 18). We have the strength God provides to deal with hardships. First Peter 5:10 says, “The God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.”
Read Psalm 73:13-22.
List a few things about the lives of unbelievers that lead you to pity them.
Pity turns to comfort
When Job asked God the why of his suffering, God’s answer was essentially “I am God, and you are not.”
Professor August Pieper, past president of Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary, Mequon, Wis., wrote, “We stand under the unfathomable, sovereign will of God. One man has this particular trouble, another man has that; the one suffers today, the other tomorrow. . . . Hidden from our eyes is the reason why God imposes such suffering at all, why he dispenses them so differently. This alone is sure, that all things must work together for good” (Our Great Heritage, Vol. II, p. 162). Unlike the wicked who prosper, we have the comfort of knowing that our suffering eventually produces hope (Romans 5:3,4). That hope points us to the conclusion that Asaph came to: There is nothing I want more than you, Lord. And there is nothing I want that does not show me more of you.
Read Psalm 73:23-28.
These verses are filled with comfort for God’s people. Pick out your favorite verse/phrase and explain why it brings you comfort, especially during hard times.
Author: David Scharf
Volume 110, Number 3
Issue: March 2023
- Q&A: Do parts of the Bible teach works righteousness?
- Q&A: How can I overcome my struggle with lust and pornography?
- Q&A: How should I help my child struggling with same-sex attraction?
- Q&A: Should Christians pray to saints?
- Q&A: Is anger sinful?
- Q&A: How can parents encourage adult children who wander from the faith?
- Q&A: Does the doxology belong in the Lord’s Prayer?
- Q&A: Is God fair?
- Q&A: When we pray, “Your kingdom come,” what are we praying for?
- Q&A: How can I better manage what God has given me this year so that I glorify him?
- Q&A: What are ways to glorify God besides singing in church?
- Q&A: I have no special gifts, and I mess up all the time. Does God really need me?
- Q&A: How do I overcome the feeling that my life has no purpose and I don’t make a difference?
- Q&A: My friend died and was not a professing Christian. What do I say to the family?
- Q&A: How can my mother and I forgive my father for being unfaithful and causing my parents to divorce?
- Q&A: Why were demon possession, gifts of healing, and gifts of tongues more prevalent in biblical times?
- Q&A: Is Christianity the only religion that gives the certainty of heaven?
- Q&A: If people go to hell, isn’t it their fault because God gave them free will and they rejected him?
- Q&A: Why are the 40 days between Jesus’ resurrection and his ascension important for the disciples and for us?
- Q&A: Can you explain Jesus’ words to the wailing women he met on his way to be crucified?
- Q&A: What if spouses don’t “love” each other anymore?
- Q&A: Is it wrong to have a cross with Jesus’ body on it?
- Q&A: Is our time of grace really unchangeable?
- Q&A: I know that we are saved by grace apart from works, but how can it be that easy?
- Q&A: Are there degrees of glory in heaven as a reward for good works?
- Q&A: Do Lutherans take the Bible literally and teach millennialism?
- Q&A: Are there different interpretations of the Bible?
- Q&A: How can we be sure the Bible includes what God originally gave us?
- Q&A: Why does it seem like Christianity is so negative?
- Q&A: How can I explain how Jesus’ resurrection is possible and if the Bible is reliable?
- Q&A: Is it okay to live together if we are planning to get married?
- Q&A: How is the Bible God’s Word?
- Q&A: Were we “created to make a difference”?
- Q&A: Am I being judgmental if I point out someone’s sin?
- Q&A: Do I need to read the Bible to have a relationship with God?
- Q&A: Can a Christian vote for a political candidate who supports abortion?
- Q&A: Does God really care?
- Q&A: Does it really matter how God made the world?
- Q&A: Does God send people to hell?
- Q&A: Is death natural?
- Q&A: How can I forgive and forget?
- Q&A: Does God help those who help themselves?
- Q&A: How can we say that the Old Testament God is the same as the New Testament God?
- Q&A: Is Jesus the only way to get to heaven?
- Q&A: Doesn’t God want me to be happy?
- Light for our path: Does God hate us?
- Light for our path: What kind of comfort can you give someone when a loved one commits suicide?
- Light for our path: What does a submissive wife in a Christian marriage look like?
- Light for our path: Is it a sin to want to die from a terminal illness?
- Light for our path: What advice can you give about applauding in church?
- Light for our path: Can you please explain Matthew 5:20?
- Light for our path: What is karma?
- Light for our path: Can the devil personally be tempting me and a lot of other people at exactly the same time?
- Light for our path: Does the word Easter refer to Ishtar, the Babylonian fertility goddess?
- Light for our path: What role does emotion play in contrition?
- Light for our path: What does the white stone in Revelation 2:17 mean?
- Light for our path: Is the cross symbol now anti-Christian?
- Light for our path: Were Joseph and Mary engaged or married when Joseph learned of Mary’s pregnancy?