God is unfair.
That's the unwavering belief of millions of people, single and married alike. They've looked at all the misery in the world and the pain in their own lives and are able to reach no other conclusion.
We know what fair is. We know that good and decency should be rewarded and evil should be punished. But obviously the world doesn't operate that way. All you have to do is look around you--especially at your own life, and it's clear that bad people are prospering and good people are suffering.
If God really is in control, as Christians say, why doesn't he clean things up? Why doesn't he enforce a fair shake for everybody?
Why does God allow madmen to murder innocent people? Why do Christian families get killed in traffic accidents? Why are children born with painful, crippling diseases?
If God is as holy as church people say, why does he allow such injustice to exist? Why doesn't he step in and stop it?
Part of the answer lies in the gift of free will. When God created Adam and Eve, he gave them a remarkable gift: the power to choose their way in life. The theological term for it is free will. They messed up. They made the wrong choice and had to suffer the consequence, which is physical death. If they had obeyed God, they would have lived forever.
But instead of revoking his gift of free will, God continued to give it to every human being since. We're not robots. God never forces anyone to obey. We can choose his way or our way.
Just as with Adam and Eve, Satan comes into the mix. He tempts us to sin, just as he tempted them to sin, and frequently we fall for it. Many believe God is unfair for allowing Satan to live after he rebelled, but God also gave angels free will, and Satan, a fallen angel, used his gift to disobey.
When it comes to evil, we want God to squash the other guy--the campus shooter--before he acts, but not us. We don't want God to kill us when we lie, gossip, cheat, look at pornography or get drunk. "Yeah, but those things don't hurt anybody," we say. "They're not in the same league as murder."
Maybe not, but sin is sin, and free will is free will. God gives it to everybody and some people use it to cause destruction to others and themselves. God is deeply hurt by this misuse of his gift
The human race was going to hell in a handbasket, so to speak. If God had been fair, he would have let us go--all of us.
But he didn't. He stepped into history during the reign of the Roman Empire and sent his only Son, Jesus, to take care of the problem of evil. God did interfere, and he did it once and for all.
"God is not fair," said the late pastor and Bible teacher Adrian Rogers, "and it's a good thing for us he isn't fair. Fortunately for us, God is merciful."
That's what Easter is all about. It wasn't fair that God had to sacrifice his own son to answer for our wickedness, but he did. Now that's unfair.
But here's something we often forget when it comes to that explanation: Jesus himself is God. As a member of the Trinity, Jesus was and is God. God, in the person of Jesus of Nazareth, took the punishment we deserved and went through an excruciating death so we could continue to have the gift of free will, and not only that, but eternal life after we leave this earth.
If God is unfair, he was more unfair to himself and to his Son than he ever is toward us.
You may have accepted Jesus as your savior and believe everything said so far. But you still think God is unfair about your singleness or your current life situation.
I wish I had the wisdom to explain why everything happens the way it does, but only God is that wise and in this life, he chooses not to enlighten us on the why's.
That's not a cop-out on my part, just the truth. But I can tell you what I believe based on my own life and you judge whether it makes sense for you.
Our lives here on earth are less than a nanosecond compared to eternal life. As a child, I wasn't always clear why I had to go to the doctor, and I had a hard time understanding why getting vaccinated was good for me. How can something that hurts be good?
Those shots lasted a brief instant. Maybe I'm alive today because of them. I believe, as surely as Christ rose from the dead, that I will spend eternity with him, in joy and contentment too massive to even imagine.
You can call it pie-in-the-sky if you want. You can say God is unfair because he doesn't give each of us a perfect life here on earth.
Some day, though, if you're a follower of Jesus Christ, you will have that perfect life, and it will never end.
Until then, I can live with my disappointments and hurts now. When my heart beats for the last time, I believe I'll be glad that God isn't fair, but that instead he is loving, merciful and good.
I'll take that over fair any day.