If God is fair, shouldn’t life be fair?

June 15, 2020

The story of a man named Douglas –

Douglas’s troubles began some years ago when his wife discovered a lump in her breast. Surgeons removed that breast, but two years later the cancer had spread to her lungs. Douglas took over many household and parental duties as his wife battled the debilitating effects of chemotherapy. Sometimes she couldn’t hold down any food. She lost her hair. And always she felt tired and vulnerable to fear and depression.

One night, in the midst of this crisis, as Douglas was driving down a city street with his wife and twelve-year-old daughter, a drunk driver swerved across the center line and smashed head-on into their car. Douglas’s wife was badly shaken, but unhurt. His daughter suffered a broken arm and sever facial cuts from windshield glass. Douglas himself received the worst injury, a massive blow to the head.

After the accident, Douglas never knew when a headache might strike. He could not work a full day, and sometimes he would become disoriented and forgetful. Worse, the accident permanently affected his vision. He developed double vision and could hardly walk down a flight of stairs without assistance. Douglas learned to cope with all his disabilities but one: he could not read more than a page or two at a time. All his life, he had loved books. Now he was restricted to the limited selections and the sluggish pace of recorded books.

When I called Douglas to ask for an interview, he suggested meeting over breakfast, and when the scheduled time came, I braced myself for a difficult morning.

If anyone had a right to be angry at God, Douglas did.

Just that week, his wife had gotten a dismaying report from the hospital: there was another spot on her lung.

As we finished breakfast, and motioned to the waitress for more coffee, I described my book on disappointment with God. “Could you tell me about your own disappointment?” I asked. “What have you learned that might help someone else going through a difficult time?”

Douglas was silent for what seemed like a long time.

Finally, he said, “To tell you the truth, Philip, I didn’t feel any disappointment with God.”

I was startled. Douglas, searingly honest, had always rejected easy formulas like the “Turn your scars into stars!” testimonials of religious television. I waited for him to explain.

“The reason is this. I learned, first through my wife’s illness and then especially through the accident, not to confuse God with life. I’m no stoic. I am as upset about what happened to me as anyone could be. I feel free to curse the unfairness of life and to vent all my grief and anger.

But I believe God feels the same way about that accident – grieved and angry.

I don’t blame Him for what happened.”

Douglas continued, “I have learned to see beyond the physical reality in this world to the spiritual reality. We tend to think, ‘Life should be fair because God is fair.’ But God is not life. And if I confuse God with the physical reality of life – by expecting constant good health, for example – then I set myself up for a crashing disappointment.

God’s existence, even His love for me, does not depend on my good health. Frankly, I’ve had more time and opportunity to work on my relationship with God during my impairment than before.”

-Philip Yancey, Disappointment with God

Here’s a cover of IN HIS TIME, sung by Allan Dason, Royston Pais and Nestin Vas. We hope it blesses you.


To everything there is a season, and a time for every purpose under heaven. - Ecclesiastes 3:1
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