She was 18 years old, about to graduate from high school, looking forward to attending Western Washington University next fall. She worked at the Flower Café in Bayview. She was young and alive, her future was bright, and on March 22 on the West Seattle bridge she was killed by an impaired driver.
Life is not fair.
We have been meeting a lot of interesting characters on Sunday morning recently. We met a man who was born blind. We met a man named Lazarus, who died unexpectedly at the age of 30. We were introduced to a woman drawing water from a well; a well that was outside the city, she came in the heat of the day when it was unlikely that she would be subjected to judgment and shame. We later find out that this woman had been married five times and was living with a man who was not her husband. Had five husbands died? Was she five times discarded in divorce, or was it some combination of the two? She had known unspeakable heartache.
Looking out from my preaching post on Sunday morning I see you. I know that many are waiting nervously for test results, and others can’t sleep at night worried about their children. I see you: you look like your life is all tidy, put together, you seem self-assured. I see you, we have talked about your depression, your loneliness, the fact that your landlord is raising your rent and you have no where to go. I see you, as you spend your grandchildren’s college funds on their drug rehab program for the third time.
Life is not fair. The quicker we come to that realization, the better off we will be. Life is not fair, and it never has been fair. Life is not fair, and God never promised us that life would be easy or fair. Jesus gave the blind man back his sight. Jesus saw him, had compassion for him, and his vision was restored. Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead. His death out of season gave way to new life, he was given a reprieve for a few years, or perhaps decades. Jesus lifted up the woman at the well. He gave her the time of day when no one would. He honored her with his words, restoring her to her community, raising her from her corpse-like existence.
Life is not fair. It is not fair that we were born in a land of milk and honey when so many in the world suffer from poverty, hunger, or oppression. It is not fair that we have had more hot showers, more good food, more entertainment and travel opportunities than 99% of the people in the history of the world.
Let just say it: Life is not fair. Life in a broken world where humans are free to make good and bad choices will never be fair. The Biblical narrative is clear; not everyone has the same opportunity, not everyone has the same chance or luck. God’s only desire for every woman, man, and child is that they would have a healthy and abundant life. And every time Jesus healed a leper, forgave an adulterer, touched the untouchable, or fed the hungry, he was proclaiming loud and clear that God only desires good for us. Suffering may have many causes, suffering may be a result of our choices, random accident or chance, but suffering is never God’s will for us.
Life is not fair. Everyone is carrying burdens that you know nothing about, everyone is afraid and insecure, one heartbeat from heaven. Maybe it is time that we treat each other with compassion, empathy, and patience.
I am one beggar telling another where to find bread.