More than once I have sat in my office, struggling with a grieving family member seeking the answer to these two simple inquiries (“Why me and why now?”). I am always surprised to discover the grace with which most people deal with the reality of disease, disaster and death. It isn’t these unwelcome facts of life that bother them, but rather their disproportionate and untimely visit.
If the test is fair, then we should suffer equally and be given the same amount of time as others before trouble begins. And if God is in charge, then He should surely administrate the test as expected, so no one has an advantage over another.
Those who grapple with this assumption in their walk with the Lord make some valid points in their appeal for justice. In the case of proportion, Jesus once said His Father causes the sun to shine and the rain to fall on the just and the unjust (Matthew 5:45). And the clear Biblical leaning, should there be inequality, is in favor of the just. Did the Psalmist David not write, “He will never let the righteous fall”? (Psalm 55:22). As far as timing, at least when it comes to death, Moses once claimed we are given seventy years of life, and maybe eighty if we are especially strong (Psalm 90:10).
The collective appeal of hundreds of conversations I have had with hurting people goes something like this: “If God is a good, then how can He allow faithful servants to suffer, and why doesn’t He reward all of them with a reasonably long life?” This is the inquiry of the ages.
Some well-intentioned teachers have answered this cry by pushing back on the sufferer. They claim God is certainly not unfair, but rather constricted by the depth of our walk. If our faith were stronger, He would keep His promise to favor us over evildoers and preserve us for the said “three score and ten”, and perhaps twenty if we are fortunate. After all, the apostle Paul did say, “in all things God works for the good of those who love Him” (Romans 8:28).
No wonder those who pour out their hearts to me are incensed with anger, yet riddled with guilt. Whose fault is it the test results have been skewed? Has God abandoned us, or have we unknowingly abandoned God? And what must we do to make things right? It is possible to throw out our score and take the test again at a better time?
How do you explain the apparent lack of fairness in the tests we face in life? Is it just for God to treat evildoers better than the righteous?
Dear God, comfort me when life seems unfair. In Jesus’ name, Amen.