Remember Joseph? Rembrandt did. Life was not fair to Joseph ... or was it life?
At some point or another, every parent or leader of children hears it. "It's not fair!"
Most adults will automatically and even a bit bitterly retreat into the truism, "Life is not fair."
And it is true, but why is it true? Certainly bad things happen to people in ways that are completely undeserved. That is not fair. Random trouble comes everyone's way.
But are we certain that when we retreat into the truism, "Life is not fair" we are not simply hiding behind a general truth to cover a more pliable problem? Certainly when we deliver our edict from on high to children, this timeless wisdom they will have to learn sooner or later, the child knows, deep down as an inexpressible fact, "Life may not be fair, but people should be."
But it's not just a children's problem. People are prone to take advantage of a situtaion that will give them benefits not received by others. The unfairness of life is fueled by oportunism, our chance to get our own way, to do unto others before they do unto us, to do what the other guy would do if he were in our place. Is it not more the way of Christ to be more blessed by giving rather than hoarding blessings by receiving at the expense of another?
May it be ever truer that when we acknowledge the unfairness of life that we are not simply making excuses for our own unfairness. May it be ever truer that we are not evading a responsibility we might be able to shoulder to enter into an unfair situation and transform it. When we say "Life is not fair" may the subtext never be, "therefore I need not be fair."
It was for Joseph. When he finally emerged from prison, he did not stick it to his brothers because they stuck it to him ... perhaps that would have been fair to them, but not to their hungry families back home. Instead he showed generosity, forgiveness, and grace. That is the way of Jesus. Is it the much debated definition of Justice, to act fairly in unfair circumstances?
Pastor, Norma Mennonite Church.