My father, who is a pastor, had to return home two days into the trip to perform a funeral. On the day my father was gone, my brother-in-law got a phone call saying his uncle had unexpectedly died from a massive heart attack. So my sister's family had to go home early. On the day they left, we all decided to head to a Christmas tree farm before they returned home. While there, a parked car began rolling down a hill and came dangerously close to hitting my sister's van and almost ran over several people in the process. Needless to say, the family vacation was not nearly as relaxing and restful as we had hoped.
As I struggled with these thoughts, I began to think about the Christmas story. I've never really given it much thought before now, but I wonder if there was ever a moment when Joseph or Mary thought it wasn't fair how their lives were being played out. Think about it. They were engaged to be married. It was the time in a person's life when everything is new and exciting. They were about to start a new life with someone they cared deeply for when suddenly they had a bombshell dropped in their laps. Their well thought-out plans were turned upside down and their lives were chaotic at best. For Joseph especially, he had to marry a pregnant woman and it wasn't even his child. There was no honeymoon - just a marriage with complications. It took an angel coming to him in a dream to help Joseph realize God was working in what seemed like an extremely unfair situation. Yet because Joseph trusted God to be Lord of his life and circumstances, he had a front row seat to see one of the greatest things God has ever done.
There are so many things in our lives that seem completely unfair. We get a phone call from our doctor saying the cancer is back. Insurance doesn't cover the cost of a medicine our bodies desperately need. We get admitted to the hospital at a time when we hoped we had finally turned the corner on our road to recovery. We get phone calls from bill collectors who don't understand or care that all our money goes to buy medicine to keep us alive.
Life isn't fair. But the thing I have come to realize is that life isn't fair for anyone - believers and non-believers alike. The difference being the believer in Christ has a hope and faith that knows one day he'll be in Heaven where there is no more pain, suffering, unpleasantness, and unfairness. All that will be there is a holy, awesome, loving God. We will be so caught up in worshipping Him that all our suffering and problems of this life will be forgotten. And though we will experience many unfair things in our lives, we will never be alone. God is always with us, no matter how bleak the situation may appear. And who knows? Maybe through our unfair situation, God will do something wonderful like He did with Joseph.
"Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing. God blesses those who patiently endure testing and temptation. Afterward they will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love Him." ~James 1:2-4,12 (New Living Translation)
(c) November 30, 2011