We were in Ikea a year ago. I was waiting for the receipt of $10 worth of 59 cent mugs and napkins. The aroma of warm cinnamon rolls wafted over to me. We were all hungry – it was 1 o’clock, and we were an hour away from our favorite restaurant, where we planned to eat lunch. So, Andy bought the boys and himself a hot dog. I searched the place for something gluten-free, and found nothin’. I remembered some carrots in the car, but a hot dog never looked so good and that smell of cinnamon rolls seemed just wrong. We were walking out the door, when the words escaped my heart through my lips.
It’s not fair.
I don’t say that much, and regretted it as fast as it came out. But it was too late. The poison in my heart spewed from my lips. Then I saw it, the image that is still seared into my memory. And, I hope it is as long as I live. As soon as I said those 3 venomous words, we came to a halt, waiting on the lady in front of us. Her legs were crippled – Polio? Diseased? Every muscle in her body straining to walk.
The boys take their hot dog from their mouths to watch. Those words still echo in my mind, and I am filled with regret, shame, tears.
Who am I to complain? Were we on our way to eat lunch, with carrots in the car to tie me over? Was I walking out the door with no pain, no struggle? Did we have money to buy our boys a meal when their tummies were growling? And even if not, could I then complain?
Or, are those exactly the words the enemy wants us to say, to fuel a spirit of defeat, discontent, ingratitude. Life is not fair. It’s a fact. We have all seen people who deserve so much more, suffer through heartache, pain, loss. We have felt it.
I have told you all this so that you may have peace in Me.
Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows.
But take heart, because I have overcome the world.
~ Jesus, John 16.33
Jesus *knew* not fair. He knew we would have many trials and sorrows, because He did so Himself. And yet, He overcame every trial, temptation, even death itself!
I don’t know what life is like from your end of the computer screen, what discontentment brews in your heart that makes you wanna scream It’s not fair! One quote that has come to mind often over the last 9 years:
God never wastes pain.
~ Jerry Bridges
We may never know the reason for a trial until that glorious day when we stand before the One who has promised to wipe away every tear from our eyes. I have to wonder if sometimes the purpose is simply for us to long for that day. When there will be no more hurt, no more sorrow or disease or hunger or wrong or suffering. Jesus warned this life would be like childbirth. We don’t go into childbirth expecting no pain, everything to go as planned. But, it’s not in vain. God never wastes pain.
A woman giving birth to a child has pain <sup class="crossreference" style="font-weight: bold; vertical-align: top;" value="(AA)”>because her time has come; but when her baby is born she forgets the anguish because of her joy that a child is born into the world. So with you: Now is your time of grief, <sup class="crossreference" style="font-weight: bold; vertical-align: top;" value="(AB)”>but I will see you again <sup class="crossreference" style="font-weight: bold; vertical-align: top;" value="(AC)”>and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy. In that day <sup class="crossreference" style="font-weight: bold; vertical-align: top;" value="(AE)”>you will no longer ask me anything. Very truly I tell you, my Father will give you whatever you ask in my name. Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, <sup class="crossreference" style="font-weight: bold; vertical-align: top;" value="(AG)”>and your joy will be complete.
~ Jesus, John 16.21-24
This morning I was packing up my gluten-free muffin to take with me and the boys to Muffins for Moms at their school. They noticed and said “I wish you could just eat a regular muffin. It’s not fair you have to bring your own.” Those words tempt, but I picture that lady straining to walk, or the children who woke up this morning with hungry tummies and bare cupboards, or the boys who eat a muffin with their mom’s body in the grave. And, it doesn’t seem fair. BUT…He has overcome! And we can too. I tell them it’s not about the muffin, that I’m just thankful to be with them, and He fills with joy.
Joy isn’t grounded in our circumstances;
it is grounded in the unchanging character of God.
~ C.C. James
Take heart, friends. He has overcome!
We are so very blessed…