IT’S NOT FAIR!
Lord, I pray for those who are suffering and need Your peace and assurance.
Read Ecclesiastes 9:1–12
A Common Destiny for All
9 So I reflected on all this and concluded that the righteous and the wise and what they do are in God’s hands, but no one knows whether love or hate awaits them. 2 All share a common destiny—the righteous and the wicked, the good and the bad,[a] the clean and the unclean, those who offer sacrifices and those who do not.
As it is with the good,
so with the sinful;
as it is with those who take oaths,
so with those who are afraid to take them.
3 This is the evil in everything that happens under the sun: The same destiny overtakes all. The hearts of people, moreover, are full of evil and there is madness in their hearts while they live, and afterward they join the dead. 4 Anyone who is among the living has hope[b]—even a live dog is better off than a dead lion!
5 For the living know that they will die,
but the dead know nothing;
they have no further reward,
and even their name is forgotten.
6 Their love, their hate
and their jealousy have long since vanished;
never again will they have a part
in anything that happens under the sun.
7 Go, eat your food with gladness, and drink your wine with a joyful heart, for God has already approved what you do. 8 Always be clothed in white, and always anoint your head with oil. 9 Enjoy life with your wife, whom you love, all the days of this meaningless life that God has given you under the sun—all your meaningless days. For this is your lot in life and in your toilsome labor under the sun. 10 Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might, for in the realm of the dead, where you are going, there is neither working nor planning nor knowledge nor wisdom.
11 I have seen something else under the sun:
The race is not to the swift
or the battle to the strong,
nor does food come to the wise
or wealth to the brilliant
or favor to the learned;
but time and chance happen to them all.
12 Moreover, no one knows when their hour will come:
As fish are caught in a cruel net,
or birds are taken in a snare,
so people are trapped by evil times
that fall unexpectedly upon them.
a Ecclesiastes 9:2 Septuagint (Aquila), Vulgate and Syriac; Hebrew does not have and the bad.
b Ecclesiastes 9:4 Or What then is to be chosen? With all who live, there is hope
New International Version (NIV)
Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
Reflect“My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion for ever” (Psa. 73:26).
Reading the first two verses of this passage, I find myself agreeing with the Teacher. Whether we are wise or foolish, righteous or evil, the likelihood of our experiencing a long and happy life seems much the same. We’re brought up to understand that if we are good, we will be rewarded: Santa makes a list of who is “naughty or nice” and distributes his gifts accordingly. But real life simply isn’t like that. And everything in us screams that it’s not fair!
Of course, this reaction is because we tend to think of ourselves as the good child who deserves gifts, not the bad child who deserves punishment. We compare ourselves to others rather than to God’s standards, forgetting that we are saved by grace and not by works (Eph. 2:8,9). God has already done far more for us than we deserve.
We may never understand why “the wicked prosper” (Psa. 73) or why good people suffer. If we try to live righteously in the hope that we will be blessed in this life, we will almost certainly be disappointed.
Paul even says that we are to be pitied if our hope of a resurrection is false (1 Cor. 15:19). He too suggests that if this life is all there is, we might as well just enjoy ourselves (1 Cor. 15:32; Eccles. 9:7–10).
Is there something in your life that doesn’t seem fair? Talk to God about it.
Lord, teach me to accept Your ways, trusting that You know best.