When God Isn’t Fair

Welcome to Wednesday! As always, my sweet friend, Jason and I are ready for a little discussion. We invite you to join us whether or not you’re reading along with us in our current book selection. Your comments and questions are always welcome!

Are you ready to begin?

Chapter 5 – When You Believe in God But Don’t Think He’s Fair

I think I want to re-title this chapter: “When You Believe in God, But Throw Tantrums Because He Doesn’t Do Things Your Way.”

At least, that’s the way I am.

I find that looking back over my life, it’s far more common to see that God DIDN’T do things the way I wanted or expected. For example, when I went to college as a vocal music major, I wouldn’t have expected to have gotten a degree in English and then ended up not using the degree in the career where I ended up working. And when I was freshly graduated from college and living hand-to-mouth in my tiny, dingy studio apartment, I wouldn’t have expected to end up owning a house on 1.1 acres in the country.

God surprises me. And sometimes, I hate the surprises. But all the time, in the end, they end up being worth it.

In this week’s chapter of Craig Groeschel’s book, The Christian Atheist, Pastor Groeschel hits one of the hot topics that we all struggle with from time to time. Why do the innocent suffer? Why do God’s children endure abuse and mistreatment? Why do bad things happen to good people?

Truly, this is one of the most popular arguments we hear from the world for not following God. They say, “Why should I serve a God that allows x, y, and z?” And the argument almost seems logical. If you don’t know God.

As an abused child, I knew that God had been there while I was being abused. I remember that among my thought processes, there was an awareness that God was there. That God had witnessed the shattering of my innocence and the rending of my heart. And I never really believed that He had wanted it to happen. But rather than deal with the pain of the situation, I pushed it away. I could admit that the abuse had happened to me, but in the admitting, I didn’t allow myself to feel it. It was as if I was telling someone else’s story.

I was thirty years old before I allowed myself to feel the emotion of the hurt that it had happened to me. Suddenly, I was asking the questions that had been too painful to ask before: “Why me?” and “Why did You let this happen?” and “What did I do to deserve this?” and “What do I do with this shame and self-hatred and fear and rejection?”

For years, I heard all kinds of theological and spiritual doctrine on forgiveness and healing. I heard it all and nodded, agreeing with it. But none of it changed my heart until I dealt with my hurt relationally, with God.

Huh? What does that mean?

I had always known that God was there when I was abused, but I never really thought about what He was feeling about it. The summer that I was thirty, my friend Bonnie said, “Sarah, God loves you! He was there and He was weeping. Because those boys had free will, God couldn’t stop what was happening, but He would never have wanted that for you and He never would have allowed you to go through that alone!”

Suddenly, I realized that God wasn’t just there, He was with me. Enduring it with me. Suffering it with me.

My boss at my very first ministry job told me that just as the Holy Spirit comes alongside us, we are to come alongside each other. Now, I have to admit that I didn’t really get the Holy Spirit part. I knew who He was, but didn’t really know Him. But I did know what it was like to walk alongside someone through a painful experience. To hold them and grieve with them and not let go of them until the crisis is past. And in the years since then, I’ve learned that the Holy Spirit does the same with me.

When I was growing up, I often whined that things were unfair. My Dad’s standard response was, “Well, Sarah, life isn’t fair.” And it’s true. Life isn’t fair. But God is with us through it.

Have you ever felt that God wasn’t fair? Have you ever been through something that you couldn’t see God while it was happening? How did you find Him again?

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  1. Yes! Life has definitely been unfair. And it continues to be unfair. I find though, that anytime I stray away from God because of feeling like He doesn’t care anyway, that He’s always there when I inevitably come back to Him. So yes, life is unfair. Darn unfair! But He is there to go through it with us. So very faithful. Your Daddy was very wise.

  2. God is with us! Life is going to happen regardless, but with Him, we have a source of strength, comfort, and love that is greater than all of our circumstances.

    Good stuff, Sarah!

  3. “God surprises me. And sometimes, I hate the surprises. But all the time, in the end, they end up being worth it.”

    I’m not going to tell you the whole story, but 1.5 years ago, I suddenly had to drop out of nursing school for some reasons. I felt cheated. Angry with God.

    But you know what? I plan on going back. My grades were good enough to stand. And I’m going to get married. 🙂 Clearly, God knew my heart. He knew I was career oriented. He knew I loved wealth and power. So instead, He gave me a beautiful, down-to-earth Southern gal.

    He completely rocks my boat. 🙂

  4. Hey Sarah,

    For a month just about recently, I have had all the questions in my mind about God. I had been to a lot of down times, one of the gloomiest set of days I had so far in my life. It was so terrible that I shook the idea that God really care about everything in my life. For me it was a battle I had to face all by myself. It’s like breaking up to the only One who knew so much of you and would always be there to help you not just on your present sorrows but to help you to stand up again and make your future straight and right.

    But soon I realized how I have become so self-centered and proud before God when I know for a fact that apart from Him, I can do nothing. It’s like if I would turn my back on God, then it’s like living again the life I had before God met me and made me realized how much He loves me. And the thought of those things I’ve done which gave me so much heartaches (although I’m over them) scares me so. It’s like walking in the unknown when it used to be the world you once knew. I looked back and saw how God was able to heal me and whenever I think about this, I can’t help but to humble myself and be grateful for what He has done.

    One day I just suddenly heard this from myself, “Mish, wherever you might probably go, whatever you do, in every circumstance, never forget about the teachings Jesus has put inside your heart. May them be a personal encounter with Him or what You knew of Him from the Scripture.”

    And so I just went back to the Cross, thought about not being able to grasp about how wide, how long, how high and how deep is His love for me. It always leads me back to Him.

    Thanks for this post. Having the most wonderful time here on earth because I know God loves me so much.

    God bless your heart.


  5. Life can be pretty terrible as you know. But God is with us. I wouldn’t have chosen to lose my dad at 17 or go through all the infertility issues with my wife, but God is definitely present and shows Himself faithful and good. When I’m thinking clearly, this is all that matters. Thanks Sarah.

  6. Sarah Salter says:

    Mish, I’m so glad that you’re beginning to be able to see the truth of God’s love for you. I’m working on that, too. I’m glad we can walk the journey together and help each other over the rocky places. Thanks for sharing! 🙂

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