It’s Not Fair!
We’ve all said it, whether in the frivolity of losing a close game of chance, or in the painful loss of a beloved to untimely death. What silly creatures we are prone to be. Like a two year old child, we expect the Grand Unfolding of the cosmos to coincide with our wishes and expectations.
When this Cosmic Unfolding fails to go “my way”, my first reaction is to feel victimized. I know better, but my emotions never grow up. My first impetus is to view reality through the window of the two year old -that planet Earth, hurtling through space with its seven billion people, is revolving around Me.
If we feel victimized, then we must, at least momentarily, believe in a Victimizer. If this happens in a game of chance, we blame our “misfortune” on the magical Lady Luck, who withdrew her graces from that determining role of dice. Obviously, this is not a logical conclusion arrived at by our Adult Self. It is as irrational as wishing for our past to be changed, or that Lady Luck would influence that next roll of dice. We am not crazy, it’s just that our emotions never grow up. This remnant of childhood remains our default mode. While forever humbling, it is easily enough checked by the briefest subjection to logic.
This irrationality can, however, take a darker and more dangerous turn as our sense of victimization takes on increasingly profound proportions. Our default mode for interpreting life’s hardship, for finding meaning in injustice, is to assign blame. We say, "This should not have happened!" The word should implies intention -that the injustice was conceived with some malevolent intention. And of course, since it did not go according to our preconceptions, then we have been wronged, and we have a right to blame, because we have been victimized.
When the injustice is frivolous, as in a game of dice, we can dismiss it with a silly accusation against a fanciful thing like Lady Luck. But if, say, a precious infant dies of cancer, our default mode is to seek blame, to demand that this sense of victimization makes some kind of sense. An Unbeliever might say it is the cruel randomness of fate that is responsible. But a Christian, is left pointing his finger to God. Both the Old and New Testament grapple with this dilemma.
In Job 34:10 we read, “Listen then to me, like intelligent men. So far is God removed from wickedness, and Shaddai from injustice, ...God never does wrong, do not doubt that! Shaddai does not deflect the course of right. It is not as if someone else had given him the earth in trust, or confided the whole universe to his care. Were he to recall his breath, to draw his breathing back into himself, things of flesh would perish all together, and man would return to dust.” Job was renowned for his righteousness, yet he was stripped of wealth, prestige, family, friends and health, till he begged for death. Only in being stripped naked before God, did he come to know his life was not his own, that his very existence depended on the will of God, that the source and meaning of his life could only be found in the will of his all-knowing, all-powerful, and all-just God.
The Gospels give us John the Baptist to ponder. He was the Cousin of God, described by Jesus himself as the greatest of all born of women. He gave up everything for God, spent every breath, every ounce of energy in service to his God. And to what end? His home was the desert. His food was locust, his clothing, camel hair. His short flash of fame –faded into obscurity. He ended up alone, without family, wife, children or friends -imprisoned in a dark cell, and beheaded by a degenerate whim.
After all he sacrificed, after a life of exemplary holiness, after giving his all, he dies alone, a shameful death, with his head a trophy of depravity. Who could more justly claim victimhood? Who had more just cause to cry out in protest, “It is not fair!”? How is it he was not driven to despair, to self pity, to feeling as victim of an unjust and uncaring God? How did he remain faithful to the end, confident in his purpose, to being a voice in the wilderness? What powerful secret shielded his soul from reason?
John The Baptist did not expect the grand Cosmic Unfolding to be centered around his needs for affirmation, comfort, fulfillment, or even his need for meaning in chaos -for he did not see his life as his own. He possessed a knowing, a faith, that his life served a Purpose far beyond the world of Self. The Source of his Purpose, his Meaning, was the Will of God, the Great Unfolder of the Unfolding, the Realm where self-denial, suffering, and sacrifice are all trumped by Truth. He trusted, that in surrendering, his humble finite space on the Timeline of God, however it unfolded, was of unfathomable worth.Lord, I am so vain. I am prone to want my will to be done. I presume to know so much that I am a fool. I am quick to conclude and slow to listen. Save me Lord. I thought I could walk on water and am want to drown. I have all the right words, but lack the love. I need the lessons of Job, but lack the fortitude. John gave witness to the Light, I am a witness in need of the Light. Help me Lord to see the Way you have marked out for me, to Trust in you, that I may walk it Faithfully. Come Holy Spirit. Come.