That’s not fair!

The words “That’s not fair!” are much like nails on a chalkboard to most parents because children often don’t see the big picture. Even as adults, when our expectations go unmet and suffering and pain festers, adult sized temper tantrums may ensue when we don’t understand all that our Heavenly Father has planned.

Mary and Joseph had their whole life ahead of them. A young, engaged couple that followed the rules, including no sex before marriage. Then an angel came and wrecked their whole world – announcing that Mary would carry God’s son, and Joseph would be the adoptive father while the son was here on this earth.

Imagine if Mary and Joseph, had exclaimed,

  • “No God!  This isn’t fair. We are not going to bring a child into this world only that he can die a harsh and horrible death!”
  • “No God! This isn’t fair! I’m not married yet, so what will the neighbors say? I will be shunned.”
  • “No God! This isn’t fair!  Why should I work so hard to support and pay for the needs of a child that isn’t even mine?”

Instead of screaming, “That’s not fair!”, Mary proclaimed in Luke 1:38, “…may it be done to me according to your word.” She even told her cousin Elizabeth in Luke 1:48, “… from this time on all generations will count me blessed.”

She felt privileged to be chosen for such a sacrificial task. Far reaching insight revealed that many generations later this chosen task for her would still matter.

I often fall into the “That’s not fair!” pit… just last weekend actually. Our son got sick, so all our plans went out the window including church and tickets to see a theater production. Even though these are small things that don’t really matter (especially more than my son’s health), I threw a mental temper tantrum.

Sometimes my “That’s not fair!” tantrums stem from things that are not menial such as when my mother died just months after our son.

  • “Seriously God! Just months after losing my son, now my Mom?”
  • “It’s not fair, God! She’s been down and out for such a long time, now she had to die like this? We didn’t even get to say goodbye.”
  • “God, it’s not fair!  She had to die on our vacation? I thought we needed some time away.”

Perspective is essential. When things don’t turn out the way we hope, it’s easy to assume God is not listening and not acting on our behalf, but I want to challenge everyone reading this… do you really want what is fair?  Really… do you want what is fair?  I don’t… If I got what’s fair, then I would get what I deserve.

In Jerry Sittser’s book “A Grace Disguised – How the soul grows through loss“, he addresses the “This isn’t fair!” syndrome. Sittser says, “The problem of expecting to live in a perfect, fair world is that there is no grace in that world, for grace is grace only when it is undeserved…A fair life may make life nice for us, but only as nice as we are. We may get what we deserve, but I wonder how much that is and whether or not we would really be satisfied. A world with grace will give us more than we deserve. It will give us life, even in our suffering.”

Choosing grace over fairness doesn’t mean that the pain disappears; instead it allows us to put aside entitlement, placing hope at the forefront of our suffering and making room for long-lasting satisfaction. Today I’m going to choose grace instead of fairness. How about you? I would love to hear your thoughts.


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8 thoughts on “That’s not fair!”

  1. So glad you are sharing your insights on a blog….you are by far not the only one struggling with fairness. How easy is it to correct my children but not myself, but then again how wonderful is that peace when I do finally submit to true humility. Too bad it is still a daily struggle in my human state of mind.

  2. The idea of choosing grace instead of the "that's not fair" mentality has changed my heart over the course of the last year. It is so neat to see what God does with us when we have a humble state. Thanks for the comments; so glad to hear from you!

  3. Thanks for this. I have been in that not fair state for about 4 months now. You are right a humble state is better.

  4. Hi Simone. Many prayers coming your direction… That humble state is better but isn't always easy. Thanks for writing.

  5. I used to live in pity party mode, basically a not fair frame of mind. Understanding Christ took my punishment so I can have eternal life has helped me to keep it in check. Still can be a challenge sometimes.

    1. Beautifully stated, Vicki! Thank you for your transparency.

  6. thanks , I’ve been stumbling over the not fair blocks all this year , but I’d much rather have the grace , thanks Girl

    1. Thanks, Jim. Seems like there is a fine line between Christ-like humility and a pity party, but the results are very different, aren’t they? One is life giving, and the other is a life stealer. I’m glad we get to choose grace together.

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