Family Works

Rob Coombs ID. Min. Ph.D.
Posted 5/7/17

“It’s not fair!”

All of us have screamed or cried or bemoaned this or something similar at one time or another.

Maybe you were 2 years old and didn’t get as big a piece of chocolate …

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Family Works


“It’s not fair!”

All of us have screamed or cried or bemoaned this or something similar at one time or another.

Maybe you were 2 years old and didn’t get as big a piece of chocolate as your sister. Maybe you were in grade school and the teacher gave the student seated next to you preferential treatment. Maybe you were in middle school and everyone else was maturing faster than you.

Maybe you were in high school and others received special privileges because they were prettier or more athletic. Maybe you were in college and studied hours and hours for a test and received a lower grade than the person seated next to you who never cracked a book.

Maybe you worked hard as an adult, only to be passed over for promotions that were given to others who were unquestionably less deserving.

Maybe . . . Maybe . . . Maybe . . . The list is endless. Regardless of age, we all seem to have the same reaction. All of us want to stomp our feet and scream, “That’s not fair!”

Have you noticed that our demand for fairness always stems from a belief that we deserve more? I have never heard anyone demanding fairness who did not think that if he got it, he would gain.

Have you ever heard of someone demanding fairness and believing he would actually receive less?

“I really didn’t work that hard this week. Feel free to lower my paycheck.”

“Please lower my grade. I really didn’t study hard enough for this good a grade.”

“My neighbor is so sick. I wish I could be even sicker than she is.”

“After the mistakes I have made, I really don’t deserve another chance. Let someone else have that job.”

“My car is really more than I need. Someone else could benefit from it more.”

Seldom does it occur to us that fairness might bring us less than we have, that a truly rigorous and impartial justice might find us on the short end of the stick.

From a world perspective, this would be true for nearly every American. We have so very much when compared to the conditions of life in most countries, yet we all too often find ourselves believing that we really deserve more, that somehow we don’t really have our fair share.

What a transformation takes place when we approach life not from a perspective of fairness (that we really get what we deserve) but from a perspective of undeserved goodness (the good we do get, maybe we really don’t deserve). Our complaining will cease as we come to understand that what we have and even much of who we are is an undeserved blessing — a blessing that randomly became ours by virtue of the place where we were born — a country that affords us opportunities for education, advancement, pleasure, travel and personal growth that far exceed most any other place on earth.

Far be it from me to scream “Unfair.” Far be it from me to ever think I got a raw deal. Far be it from me to believe that life has given me exactly what I bargained for. Far be it from me to ever feel gypped just because someone else does better. Far be it from me to ever feel somehow cheated.

May I always remember that I really have not received in life what I truly deserved and that if I did, I would have received far less than what I presently have.

Thank goodness, life is not fair.

Rob Coombs is a professor with a doctor of ministry degree and a doctor of philosophy with an emphasis in Family Systems.


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