Life Is Not Fair

“That’s not fair!” You probably said it as often as me when you were a child, but, as immaturity fell away, so did the exclamation mark. Life is not fair. Now what?

Our reading this morning can be a depressingly honest snapshot of reality “under the sun.” Living “under the sun” is living life as though there were no God or no God who was both personally loving and interested in my life and able to do something about my circumstances.

In 8:1-9, “the Preacher” tells us that, even though those in authority can see the future no more certainly than we can, we should submit to those in authority because they have power over us “to our hurt.” Life will often require us to submit to unjust leaders. Not fair!

From an earthly perspective, not even death makes things even. And to make matters worse, sometimes the wicked prosper while the righteous suffer. That’s the message of 8:10-11. We have probably all experienced it and agree that it is “so not fair!” According to chapter 9, success in life and the time of our death seem to be entirely random and based on luck and chance, no matter how hard you work.
Again I saw that under the sun the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, nor bread to the wise, nor riches to the intelligent, nor favor to those with knowledge, but time and chance happen to them all. (Ecclesiastes 9:11)


Maybe you are nodding your head in agreement with the Preacher that life does not seem fair. And if we live only “under the sun” then it is indeed unfair. But, Christian, we don’t live “under the sun.” We know that all the deeds of people “are in the hand of God” (9:1). No unrighteous person acts without God’s permission. Echoing Romans 8:28, the Preacher can say confidently, “I know that it will be well with those who fear God…but it will not be well for the wicked…because he does not fear before God” (8:12-13).

Life is not fair. That is the reality of living in a world cursed by sin. But God is just and those who fear Him can trust in the deliverance that comes from obedience to God’s Wisdom.

So, the next time you are tempted to cry out, “That’s not fair,” be sure to follow it with, “but God is good and just.”