How do you deal when life’s not fair? When decisions outside of your control are negatively influencing your life? That was the question asked of me recently by a friend. Since it’s an issue that many people face, I wanted to share my thoughts (and conversation) with you. If you’re in a similar situation, hopefully it will help you as well.
Her question: People always ask the question why do bad things happen to good people. What I’m struggling with is the other side of that why does it seem like good things are happening to bad people? Not even necessarily bad people but people who continuously make poor choices or selfish choices, yet they always seem to come out on top.
Right now the main thing is I’m dealing with a situation with my husband and his son and ex-wife and her family and I feel like I have no say in the matter yet it’s affecting my life. And I’m trying to let things go and have compassion but I feel like it’s the same thing over and over and it’s taking its toll on me and I’m being bitter and resentful and angry. Those are not characteristics I want in my life. Every time I feel like I’ve let go of the situation something else comes up. I pray daily about it, but as much as I hate to say this at times I feel like my prayers are hitting the ceiling and nothing changes.I feel like as much as we try and do what’s right we are either taken advantage of or mistreated.
My response: So sorry to hear that! I completely understand the question (and frustration) of why bad things happen to good people, and just as importantly, why good things happen to bad people. From your perspective, it doesn’t seem fair. And you’re right, it’s not fair.
One of the consequences of The Fall (Genesis 3) in the Garden of Eden and sin entering the world is that sin screwed everything up. Sin is like a bomb that went off in the world, and we all suffer the collateral damage. When a bomb goes off, someone standing 10 feet away can walk away unharmed but someone 100 feet away could be killed by shrapnel. It’s not fair. Sin is like a bomb that went off. From a ‘fairness’ perspective, life stopped being fair in the Garden of Eden. It hasn’t been fair since.
So, your situation, although unfortunate, isn’t surprising. As you’ve obviously figured out by now, life sucks sometimes. But how can you get through this without bitterness and resentment taking root? That’s the real question.
Getting in the Bible is important because it connects us to God and ensures that we don’t have to carry our weights on our own. Here’s a great Psalm that speaks directly to where you are. Read Psalm 73. In fact, I would read it again and again, every time those feelings of bitterness come up. In Psalm 73, the writer is expressing the same frustrations that you expressed: why do the wicked prosper? why do the righteous suffer? why do people make poor choices but still seem to get everything they want? That’s right where you are.
The key verses are 16-17: 16 When I tried to understand all this, it troubled me deeply 17 till I entered the sanctuary of God; then I understood their final destiny. Psalm 73:16-17
When the writer of this Psalm spent time in God’s presence, he got the perspective he needed. He realized that even though it seemed like the wicked weren’t suffering for their choices, God knows all things, and everyone will answer for their actions, either in this life or the next.
The toughest thing for you is the lack of control. You have no say in decisions that affect your life. When you spend time with God (and especially when you read Psalm 73), it will remind you that God is in control. He is on his throne. Even though it may not seem like it, he knows the actions of your husband’s ex-wife and she will be held ultimately responsible for them.
While that may not change the outcome of her actions, it should help keep you from becoming bitter and resentful. God is in control. He’s got this thing. Another great passage is Romans 12:17-21:
17 Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. 18 If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. 19 Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. 20 On the contrary:
“If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.” 21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. Romans 12:17-21
When the subject of your husband’s ex comes up, by being kind and good (instead of mean and spiteful), you’re actually leaving room for God’s wrath (v. 19). If you try and take matters into your own hands, it leaves no room for God to work. So, go with the old saying, “Kill them with kindness.” Show her grace and kindness that she does not deserve. That allows God to repay her for the hurt she has caused you.
One of the other things that’s very important (if you’re not already) is to be involved in a good Christian community. You need to be involved in a good church and in a good small group, so that other strong Christians can help you “bear your burdens” and so that you don’t have to carry the weight yourself.
I know this is a lengthy reply but I hope it helps!