When Doing Everything Right Doesn’t Work

Where do our expectations come from? We’d like to think that if we do a, b, and c, d will result. If I take care of my body, I’ll remain healthy. If I work hard and make smart financial decisions, my wealth will grow. If I choose a spouse wisely and honor my vows, my marriage will flourish. If I raise my children with certain values, they will adopt them and enjoy the fruits of their virtue.

But we all know the woman who never touched a cigarette yet contracted lung cancer. The successful entrepreneur who lost everything through theft or a change in the market. A woman whose husband decided he didn’t love her anymore and left. Children who abandon their faith and every value their parents held dear.

Sometimes the equation falls apart on our end. After all, am I that certain of my righteousness or do I merely fail to see my sin? Have I accounted for the fallen nature of not only myself but of my spouse, my children, this whole gosh-darn fallen world we inhabit?

There are no guarantees in life. As I tell my children so often, life isn’t fair.

“. . . for He makes his sun rise on the bad and the good, and causes rain to fall on the just and the unjust.”

Matthew 5:45

What then are we to do? Sulk? Rail at God as man has done through millenia? Why, God, why? I’ve been faithful. I’ve trusted in you. I’ve prayed, and prayed, and prayed yet I’m not rewarded. How long, O Lord? 

Perhaps I’ve finally reached a stage of maturity or experience that allows me to look back and see where things have fallen apart. The decisions that seemed wise, yet failed to deliver their promised result. The blacks and whites that have blurred into so many dreary shades of gray.

“They disciplined us for a short time as seemed right to them, but he does so for our benefit, in order that we may share his holiness. At the time, all discipline seems a cause not for joy but for pain, yet later it brings the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who are trained by it.”

Hebrews 12:10-11

Life seems less than fair when we don’t get what we deserve. Yet, too often, I calculate fairness as if my perceived unfair losses, and not my unfair gains, were the only side of the equation.

Thank God not every equation adds up, and we don’t get  always get what we deserve. Sometimes we get more than we deserve.

Gherardo delle Notti o Gheritt van Hontorst – Adorazione del Bambino {{PD-1923}}

How do you reconcile the unfairness of life?


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