Why aren’t I allowed to say that chronic illness is not fair?

Perhaps you have been here:
A knock at the door.
You answer.
It’s a friend, a neighbour. She has just popped over for a chat.

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She holds a covered dish:

‘Cooked a bit extra and thought you could do with a home cooked meal’.

She asks how we are, how our Loved One is.

She complains for a while about her work, and how tired she is from the high tea she went to on the weekend. She has another date with friends in a few days but unfortunately it coincides with the birthday of a family member:

‘It’s always the way isn’t it? Everything at once, so frustrating.’

She shifts on the door step:

‘Ah well, no rush to return the dish – we’ll be away for a few weeks.

Going on a cruise. Just a small one. I’m a bit worried actually, I’m terrified I’m coming down with a cold. There’s nothing worse than a sniffly nose!

Anyway, got to rush, I have a hair dressers appointment this afternoon. All the best!’

You juggle the still-warm meal and close the door, the hot smell of cheese and silver foil clouding the air.

After the door is firmly shut and the neighbour out of sight, you give the wood a short, hard kick.

It’s not fair!

‘It’s not fair.’

The phrase is irrevocably linked to childhood temper tantrums.

Perhaps we feel childish when it wells up within us as adults. Not only so, but perhaps we feel like a ‘bad’ Christian.

Everyone knows ‘good’ Christians who trust God don’t shake their fists and yell ‘it’s not fair!’ in response to His Providence.

You come to the conclusion, as you trudge upstairs to the darkened room of your Loved One, that you must be extra sinful. After all, doesn’t the Bible tell us to rejoice in everything and not complain? As you stop outside the door and hear a moan from your Loved One you try desperately to conjure another response.

A ‘proper’ Christian response.

Your thoughts drift back to your well-intentioned neighbour and you scowl. It doesn’t seem right that your Loved One should have to bear so much, while others bear so little.

That involuntary cry wells up once more.

It’s not fair!

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“Life isn’t fair –

When a child loses their temper and wails the same cry, the response is often, ‘well, life isn’t fair.

We hated that response as children, because it was not what we wanted. We didn’t want an intellectual, philosophical answer.

We wanted a solution.

We wanted the lolly, or the extra time at the playground. As a result, I suspect we automatically reject the ‘life isn’t fair’ response as adults.

And yet it is true. Life isn’t fair.

This world is full of injustices. There is oppression and unfairness – and somehow we only feel we can state this when it arises from the hand of man.

When a minority people group is harassed in another country, we applaud those who stand up and make stirring speeches about injustice and the legal system.

And yet when unfairness begins with a chromosomal abnormality or a tiny virus, somehow it becomes shameful to acknowledge that the situation is ‘unfair.’

“And it’s okay to say that,

Of course, we need to be careful not to feed bitterness in our souls or anger towards God or others.

We have to acknowledge that ultimately all things come from His hand and are part of His plan. Jealousy, fury, cynicism had no place in Jesus and have no place in us.

But we are also part of a fractured, fallen universe.

The world around us which supplies warm sun and sparkling rivers also produces the tiny bacteria that leave an otherwise healthy man of twenty bed bound and paralyzed, destined to suffer wracking pain for the rest of his days.

This world is beautiful and it is also downright disgusting.

David knew that.

The Psalms are full of cries of ‘but it is not fair!’ King David begs God over and over again for justice. He cries out for Someone to come and rule rightly, and punish rightly, and make things as they ought to be.

If we are not unsettled at the rampant injustice in the world, if the fact that some people die at birth and others live until 1o2 does not make us wince – we have settled for a lie. We have begun to believe that this world is normal.

That evil is natural and if not good, well, at the very least, ‘alright’.

But that is not true, and as Watchers we see that Truth every day. This world is not good.

So much is unfair and it is right to feel that, and natural to acknowledge it.

To the right Person.”

But we must not stop there.

Like David, we must direct our cries to our Maker. As Christians we know that God is working an eternal plan. That He is coming one day and will make all things new.

Until that day when our present injustices will at last be righted, I don’t think it is wrong to acknowledge that life is indeed, unfair.

What comes after that acknowledgement is more important.

Will we place our hope in a just God? Or will we merely scowl and kick the door and mentally judge our neighbour?

As Christians we have hope that soon these present injustices will be righted and there will be no more cries of ‘unfair!’

// Do you feel deeply the injustices of life? Why/why not? How do you deal with it? What encourages you?

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Author: Emily J. M.

Hi, I'm Emily. Two of my closest family members struggle with chronic illness, and I watch them. That's hard, and so I write about life as a 'Watcher', what it looks like to support them and find Hope.

Thoughts? I'd love to hear from you, friend.