Growing up, I always looked forward to the last week of September. It was the week when the Dixie Classic Fair came to town. I never was big on the rides (except the really boring ones), but I loved the sights, smells, games, and most of all, cotton candy. The fair wasn’t just a place to go. The fair was an event. My friends and I would beg our parents to take us…. We’d make plans to meet up at the Midway, and then, we’d spend hours walking, talking, and taking a ride on the Tilt-a-Whirl. Then, we’d go home with that distinctive smell of the fairgrounds, a bag of whatever was left of the cotton candy (which usually wasn’t much), maybe covered in some powdered sugar dust from the fair-food-staple funnel cake…. And we’d wonder how on earth we managed to blow through so many tickets so quickly.
The fair was what we looked forward to…. We wanted every day to be a fair day. But then, the fair would leave town, and we were left with a sad, empty landscape that once bustled with noise and laughter and the occasional screams of someone on a roller coaster.
And isn’t that what we want, even now? A life spent enjoying pretty lights, cotton candy, playing games, and laughing with friends? We expect life to hand us a fistful of tickets and tell us to enjoy ourselves. But it turns out, life’s not a fair…and it’s not fair, either.
In the unfair life, people will get recognition they don’t deserve, and the outstanding efforts of others will be ignored. People will be passed over for something they really want. At times, we’ll watch others living everything we dreamed about, while we wonder, did God forget me?
Life isn’t fair. “Fair” left the building the first time Adam and Eve sinned. Yet, despite generations of this true lesson, “Life’s not fair,” we still want it. And we’re disappointed when we don’t get it.
It’s a hard lesson we all have to come to grips with at some point or another. No one likes facing trials and disappointments that inevitably come in life, but if we take a moment to stop thinking of how unfair life is, we can maybe begin to look for the lesson or purpose of the pain.
After all, life wasn’t fair to Jesus. So why should we expect it to be fair to us?
Was it fair for Jesus, God in human flesh, to be born in poverty?
Was it fair for Him to be criticized by the religious leaders who were jealous of His ministry?
Was it fair that Judas betrayed Him?
Was it fair that He was wrongly accused, arrested, beaten, and tortured?
Was it fair that He died on the cross for my sins? That He died for your sins?
None of this was fair. But Jesus didn’t come to earth for fair. He came to save.
If life were fair, we wouldn’t be lost sinners in need of a Savior.
People want the fun and festivities, forgetting that there’s a heaven. They forget that if life were perfect here, what would be the point of heaven? When we face hard times, we have to realize what Jesus knew to be true. Yes, God could prevent the hurt and pain. But sometimes, the challenges we face are for our own good, or, as was the case for Jesus, for the good of others.
Life’s not fair. And this side of heaven, it’s unrealistic for us to expect it to be. Sometimes unfair trials happen so when we come out on the other side as a survivor, we can encourage others who need our exact brand of encouragement.
And sometimes, in order to cope with the unfairness of it all, we have to remember what Jesus said when He endured the ultimate of unfairness—“Father, if it is Your will, take this cup away from me; nevertheless not my will, but Yours, be done” (Luke 22:42).
And in those moments, we have to be bold enough to pray for God’s will, too. Even if, at the moment, it feels anything but fair.