“Why should the name of our father be done away from among his family, because he hath no son?”
Numbers 27: 4
King James Version
“Fair Is Fair”
“My own mother always taught me that fairness was a family value.”
What has happened in my life to make me say, “This isn’t fair?”
“Life isn’t fair. It’s just fairer that death, that’s all.”
“I have no answer to the blank inequity of a four-year-old dying of cancer. I saw her on TV and wept with my mouth full of meatloaf.”
When I was growing up, one of my favorite dishes made by my mother was her famous chocolate cake with melt-in-your-mouth fudge frosting. Whenever my mom made the cake, the aroma permeated every square inch of the house to the point where you had to creep into the kitchen to sneak a bite.
As my mom plated up the cake my sister and I would watch very carefully and inevitably one of us would say, “It isn’t fair, she got more than me.” As kids, we thought of “fairness” in terms of someone else getting more of what we wanted or desired.
But at the onset of adulthood, ‘fairness” takes on more complicated and serious terms.
As I read the prayer requests everyday, fairness or the lack thereof, sounds something like this in my mind:
1.) “It isn’t fair that after 30 years of marriage, Sue’s husband took off with another woman half her age.”
2.) “It isn’t fair that after years of hard work, Bill and Nancy are threatened with losing their home because of an unscrupulous mortgage lender.”
3.) “It isn’t fair that 2-year-old Ryan has a brain tumor.”
4.) “It isn’t fair that Sally, a mother of only 30 was killed in a car accident leaving a husband and three little children behind.”
The list goes on and on. As we find out, so often, life and fairness do not go hand-in-hand. There is so much inequity on planet earth and there has been ever since that tragic day in Eden’s paradise when a wily serpent beguiled an innocent and perfect couple, Adam and Eve. Since that day, life has never been fair. The Psalmist David cried out to God about life’s unfairness. The prophet Jeremiah wept to God about the inequity he saw in life. And even God’s own Son, Jesus, in the Garden of Gethsemane asked, “Why can’t this cup pass from me?” It was Jesus crying out, “Why is life so unfair?” And this is the cry of every human heart, whether it is at the moment of the death of a loved one or at the sick bed of a child or in the divorce court when your heart has been shattered to pieces. No matter the time or place, we all find ourselves in the position to holler: “Why is life so unfair?”
This is also what we see happening in Numbers 27 when five daughters ask, “Is it fair that because our father had no sons his name should be forgotten? Should his memory be obliterated all because we are women?”
Ironically, this plea by five girls was brought to an all-male jury composed of Moses, Eleazar and the Princes. Thankfully, Moses, rather than leaving the solution of the “fairness” question to earthly minds, directed the request to God. And tomorrow, we will study the fourth lesson from the experience of Zelophehad’s daughters as we get a glimpse into the “justice” of God.
For today, as we focus on the third lesson, “fairness,” I want to share a thought for your consideration. When I think of what “fairness” means, I picture an old-fashioned scale with a plate on either side and a fulcrum in the middle. If one plate is filled fuller than the other, the scale tips in the direction of the heavier plate.
Now let’s apply your life and mine to this scale. One plate contains all the unfair things that happen to us and we watch as the scale appears to be unbalanced in the direction of heartache and pain. But along comes our Heavenly Father who in 2 Corinthians 12: 9 says: “My grace is sufficient for thee.” If we look at the scale with one plate loaded with all this life’s unfairness and the other side piled high with God’s “sufficient” grace, we find the weight of the scale always tips in favor of God’s immeasurable gift of grace. As the Greek translation of the word “sufficient” means, God’s grace is always “enough.” We are filled, complete, adequate and content even in the face of life’s unfairness.
Many years ago I heard a children’s song that may have taken its words from a coffee shop wall in Chicago: “As you wander on through life, whatever be your goal, keep your eye upon the donut, and not upon the hole.” Keep your eye on God’s grace not life’s unfairness.
“As regards to our standing before God, because we are “in Christ” and enjoy a common relationship to Him, racial, national, social and sexual distinctions are irrelevant.”
For several weeks, here at Transformation Garden, we have been praying for God’s daughters in Zimbabwe. Today our affirmation was written as a Prayer of Thanksgiving, May 8, 1994 in South Africa.
“We are a people composed of many races, many languages, many religious traditions, many political parties, many cultures. We are poor and rich, women and men, young and old. We have emerged from a history of strife and death to seek a future of life and health. We acknowledge the presence of Christ amongst us who reconciles the world.
We struggled against one another: now we are reconciled to struggle for one another.
We believed it was right to withstand one another: now we are reconciled to understand one another.
We endured the power of violence: now we are reconciled to the power of tolerance.
We built irreconcilable barriers between us: now we seek to build a society of reconciliation.
We suffered a separateness that did not work: now we are reconciled to make togetherness work.
We believed we alone held the truth: now we are reconciled in the knowledge that truth holds us.
We puffed ourselves up to demand others bow to us: now we are reconciled to embrace one another in humility before God.
We do not pretend we have already won or are already perfect: now we are reconciled to press on together to the fullness which lies ahead.
So we bring together our races, languages, traditions, politics, and cultures.
We are reconciled to the patience and persistence that make peace; to the transparency and fairness that make justice; to the forgiveness and restitution that build harmony; to the love and reconstruction which banish poverty and discrimination; to the experience of knowing one another that makes it possible to enjoy one another; to the spiritual strength of the one God, who made us of one flesh and blood, and loves us.
Let us share the peace together.”
Dorothy Valcárcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
Available May 2009