One of my seven-year-old’s favorite phrases is “That’s not fair!” I always reply, “Life’s not fair,” continuing that ancient call and response heard between almost every child and parent, maybe David and Solomon also.
Teaching my son that life is not fair feels like passing on hard but
necessary wisdom. I want him to have realistic expectations of life so
that he can learn to be resolute in the face of arbitrary circumstances
and cruel people.
But I also want my son to know the deeper, less obvious wisdom
of the psalmist: Despite all the evidence we see to the contrary,
those who bring down the poor and needy and kill the upright will
not win. The Lord laughs at the hubris of those who think they can
perpetuate injustice forever. In a little while, wickedness will be no
I find myself asking again, “How long, O Lord?” (Ps 13:1).
It’s been a few thousand years since the people of Israel first
prayed this prayer and unfairness still reigns.
But again, the psalmist redirects our focus to the Lord, who
upholds the righteous as they wait.
This does not feel fair to me, but I am so glad that it’s not up to
me! I know that the wickedness I abhor also lives within me, and that
in the judgment of the psalm, my arm is just as likely to be broken as
held in the Lord’s embrace (v. 17).
I long for the day that justice will come, when the meek shall
inherit the earth, and I pray that I will be found in their number.
What “unfairness” or wickedness do you see in the world? Within yourself?
Uphold us in your mercy, O Lord!