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It's Not Fair!
January 13, 2009
A couple of months ago I was having one of those mornings. I was in a grumpy mood to begin with and was grumbling as I headed downstairs to find that the children’s lunches remained unmade. With just a few minutes before they had to be out the door and on the school bus I set to work on one of my least favorite routine jobs. As I did so I grumbled, “It’s just not fair!” And in that very moment I had a little epiphany. Nothing’s fair. Fairness is not a concept that has any business in the Christian life. I gain nothing by focusing on fairness. I repented and got to work with a whole new attitude. The day got better. The more I’ve thought about it the more I’ve realized that there was something to my thought that day. Worrying about fairness is a spiritual and emotional dead end.
It was not long after this little episode that a new book showed up in my mailbox. Written by Wayne Mack and Deborah Howard it is titled simply It’s Not Fair. Mack deals with the very attitude I had fallen into. “From years of personal and counseling experience,” he writes, “I know that nothing is more damaging to us spiritually, emotionally, mentally, and behaviorally than responding to the unpleasant, unwanted, and (in our judgment) undeserved attitude of life with the ‘it’s not fair’ attitude.” We fight against this attitude with a properly knowledge of who God is. “Nothing is more helpful to us in overcoming the tragic results of being infected with the ‘it’s not fair’ attitude than possessing the knowledge of who and what God really is and the implications of that knowledge.”
In this book, Mack focuses on four aspects of God’s character that he thinks are the most useful in counteracting and destroying the devastation brought about by the “it’s not fair” attitude. He looks to God’s wisdom, love, sovereignty and justice. These characteristics, taken individually and together, counter an attitude that we are somehow getting less than we deserve. “Sometimes we are angry at other people, and sometimes we’re angry about situations or circumstances. Ultimately, we are angry with God, regardless of how well we disguise it—even to ourselves.”
And so he turns to God’s omniscience and wisdom to show that God knows all that is happening and that he makes no mistakes; he turns to God’s love to show that he loves us deeply and to encourage us to see God’s character not through our feelings but through the lens of Scripture; he turns to God’s justice to show that God will not and cannot do anything that is unjust or unfair and that God is committed to giving us what we need, not what we want; and he looks to God’s omnipotence and sovereignty to show that God is in control of all of life’s circumstances and that nothing happens outside of his will. Final chapters focus on practical application and case studies.
This book had its genesis in a biblical counseling class. The origins are visible throughout. There are vast amounts of Scripture included in the book and long studies in the character of God. Each chapter concludes with an appropriate hymn and with questions for study and application. It is an eminently practical book and one that looks always to the heart. It is a book that answers sin with gospel. I am glad to recommend it to you. I think it is a valuable read for any Christian and one that may have a useful place in a church library.
byWayne A. Mack