It's not fair!" was an oft-heard phrase in our home when our two daughters were growing up.
"Today at school, Mr. Harder ..." Karen would begin. A woeful tale of some supposed injustice would follow, ending with, "it's not fair!"
Or Teesa might lament, "It's not fair that I always have to wash the dishes alone. Why can't Karen help?" On and on, week after week, it went—an all-too-familiar story to parents.
"You know what?" I'd reply to the plaintive It's not fair cry, "life isn't fair. It's not fair that you should have Daddy and Mommy to Jove you. Many children are unwanted and unloved; many are treated cruelly.
"You were born in a country where there's no fighting. Many kids go to bed with the sounds of bombs bursting around them night after night. They know nothing but war. That's not fair."
"And it's not fair that you have plenty of food. All over the world lots of children don't know how it would feel to have full tummies. No, life isn't fair! Sometimes it even seems that God isn't fair."
Recently I discovered the ugly It's-not-fair! attitude lurking in my own heart.
Our married daughter, Karen, came to visit us in the mission field where my husband and were serving in Papua New Guinea (PNG). She brought her two young sons. En route she stopped in the Philippines where our other daughter, Teesa, and her family are missionaries. There she picked up our fouryear-old granddaughter and brought her along, too.
What a glorious, though tiring three weeks we enjoyed with our wonderful grandchildren, Ricky, Michael, and Alyssa. Then they left. My house, heart, and arms felt empty. Silence echoed through each room of my now too-big house. My heart felt squeezed into a tiny, hard ball. My arms ached both figuratively and literally. Grandchildren play is fun, but hard on grandma-muscles. But grandchildren absence is far more difficult!
"It's not fair!" was right on the tip of my torn emotions, seeking to express itself in words. But of course, I'm too old to say that! Or at least anywhere but in the shower where only God can hear.
But I was tempted to remind the Lord that many grandmothers can zip across town to spend an hour, a day, or a night with their grandchildren. My grandsons live half-a-world away. And although Alyssa and Kendra are only a fourth-of-a-world away, airfare from PNG to the Philippines is expensive—and missionaries don't have a lot of extra money. Some grandmas can pick up the phone and for a few cents chat with their grandkids. But phone calls from PNC to the USA and the Philippines are budget-breaking
But why remind the Lord of all that? He already knew it. So I just cried as my hot shower relaxed my aching muscles, but failed to relax my cold, complaining heart.
It was almost Christmas, the time of "joy to the world." How could I get over the It's not fair! self-pity syndrome that was sapping, not only my joy, but my energy as well?
Christmas. Yes, that's it. When God gave His beloved Son that first Christmas, He was operating on love, not fairness. Love, for you and me. No Christmas isn't "fair." John 3:16 isn't "fair."
It's not fair that God should love me, an undeserving sinner. But, oh, how I thank my gracious Heavenly Father that He "so loved the world"—and that includes me! It isn't fair that God was separated from Jesus, His beloved Son. Jesus left His Father and the splendors of heaven to come to this sin-cursed earth to die for my sins. I praise God that because He loved, "He gave His one and only Son. . . ." Bo; t it wasn't a matter of being "fair." Not at all.
It's not fair that I should be born into a kingdom of peace. But thank you, God, that the angel's announcement of "Peace on earth" included my heart and life. Thank You that John 3:16 assures me that "whoever believes in Him . . has eternal life."
It's not fair that I should be able to feast on God's Word, served up in a language I can read and understand. As I used to tell. Karen and Teesa, "Lots of kids in the world are hungry; they're hungry for more than food. Many of God's children hunger for His Word in their own language. They have never read in their heart-language that "God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life."
"That's why this "long-distance grandma" is here in Papua New Guinea as a Bible translator.
It's Christmas Eve now. Earlier, as I reflected on God's love, a hot shower washed away more than early-morning garden grime; my grandma grief went too. I felt those ubiquitous words, "It's not fair!" recede from the tip of my tongue as the muscles of my heart relaxed in the warmth of His love—a love which always carries us to victory in an unfair world.