Over and over again, I have heard the anguished cry of someone saying to me, “But it’s not fair!” Often I cannot offer them anything more than agreement; their situation and what happened to them is not fair. This world is not fair. The good die young while the wicked prosper and live to a ripe, old age. The proud make millions while the humble scrape to get by. The flatterer gets promoted while the hard worker is taken for granted. Perversion is rewarded while righteousness is persecuted. Welcome to the world; life is not fair.
It has pretty much been this way. Back in the days of Job, he asked, “Why do the wicked live on, growing old and increasing in power?” (Job 21:7) This treatment is not a recent phenomenon. Back in the time of King David, the psalmist wrote, “We have endured much ridicule from the proud, much contempt from the arrogant (Psalm 123:4). The fact that life is unfair is an age-old theme. Jude writes, “These men are grumblers and faultfinders; they follow their own evil desires; they boast about themselves and flatter others for their own advantage” (Jude 1:16). As King Solomon wrote thousands of years ago, “There is nothing new under the sun” (Ecclesiastes 1:9). Life has pretty much always been unfair, with bad things happening to good people.
How can you be happy in this topsy-turvy, unfair world? The only way this is possible is if your happiness is based upon an inner gyroscope that seeks out the equilibrium of righteousness, regardless of the pressure put on it by the hostile vortexes of this world.
A happy person is a person who is centered on God’s values and not the world’s. It is natural, therefore, that this type of happy person will experience persecution. This is especially true if the person seeking after righteousness lives in close proximity to those who do not.
If you are living a righteous life, it will stand in stark contrast to the unrighteous lives lived by those around you. Your goodness highlights their not-so-goodness, and they will tend to retaliate against you, to get you to pipe down, sit down, or turn your light down. John puts it this way: “If you belonged to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you” (John 15:19).
This world is not fair, and you will not always be treated fairly. On the contrary, you will be persecuted. This can be a lonely place to stand. You seek the approval of others and you want people to like you, especially if you grew up in an environment where more value was placed on the opinions of others than on yours. In order to be happy, you need to bind your happiness to God’s approval and divorce it from the approval of others.
Authored by Dr. Gregory Jantz, founder of The Center • A Place of HOPE and author of 38 books. Pioneering whole-person care nearly 30 years ago, Dr. Jantz has dedicated his life’s work to creating possibilities for others, and helping people change their lives for good. The Center • A Place of HOPE, located on the Puget Sound in Edmonds, Washington, creates individualized programs to treat behavioral and mental health issues, including eating disorders, addiction, depression, anxiety and others.