God's Not Fair
This past week was my chemoversary (an event I made up to celebrate being a year out of chemo), but I didn't get to have a party because one of my kids caught Covid. So I celebrated in quarantine. I got dressed up in a tulle skirt and tiara, I made a ham dinner, and I listened to all the songs that had meant something to me through my journey.
Then I googled "cancer songs" to see what songs had meant something to other cancer patients, and I found a video where students sang Fight Song to their teacher because she was battling breast cancer for the 8th time. Yes. 8th. I cried for her, thinking, "God's not fair."
When most people think of God not being fair, they think of it as a bad thing. Somebody else got something they wanted, and they are upset with God about it. My husband went through this dark place for a while, then I got cancer, and he realized he needed the hope God offers us each personally.
I think that's the trick. To realize God's too personal to be fair.
Fair was my boss saying that we each needed to turn in our bid request for the next month's calendar in the office by Friday with no exceptions. Unfair was when I told her my daughter had Covid and asked if she would make an exception only for me, and she said yes. Because she's personal.
Jesus is personal. When Jesus told Peter what to do, Peter pointed at another disciple and asked, "What about him?" Jesus responded, "What is that to you? You follow me."
It's easy to compare ourselves to others. It's easy to feel jealous and discontent when we see that others have more than we do. So I intentionally do the opposite.
I claim this verse: "Only let us live up to what we have already attained." -Philippians 3:16
I say, that's RIGHT God's unfair. I don't deserve everything I have. But He gave it to me anyway. And I'm going to make the most of it.
Like this weekend. I couldn't attend a wedding in Arizona the way I'd planned because I was still quarantined. I could have thought, "That's not fair that I don't get to go to the wedding." Or I could have thought, "That's not fair that both my husband and my child have had Covid now, and I've somehow avoided it." I chose to live up to the health I'd already obtained. I took care of my baby, pulled weeds, replaced doorknobs, organized our "junk room," and polished the silver tea set my grandma gave me. I had a productive and rewarding weekend.
Some situations are more painful than missing a wedding. I get it.
When my first husband left me for another woman, I felt like I had to compete with the whole world for love, and I lost. They had each other, and I had nobody. It definitely felt unfair.
Gradually, I learned to be grateful. And by gradual, I mean I took two steps forward and one step back. But somehow I got to this place where, just last week, the other woman told me that she admires my strength. I was a little dumbfounded. All I could think to say was, "The joy of the Lord is my strength."
But what does that mean exactly? What is the joy of the Lord? I think it comes through the attitude of wanting to live up to what we've already obtained. As Christians, the only thing we've already obtained is eternal life. We obtained that through Jesus taking our sins upon himself. Talk about unfair.
We don't deserve heaven, but we've obtained it. I'm going to try to live up to it. Anything else is a gift.
I'm not saying everyday feels magical. But it's more than enough.
There was a moment during chemotherapy where I was all alone. I'd thrown up, crawled to my bed shivering, and had to huff and puff to catch my breath. Jim was downstairs and would have wanted to be there for me if he knew what I was going through, but there was nothing he could have done. I actually said out loud, "It's you and me, Jesus." Death would have been a relief from the pain I was going through, but I wanted to live up to the life I'd been given.
The joy of the Lord is gratefulness for what He's given us. It's realizing that things could be 8 times worse. It's seeing God as the kind of unfair where He gives us more than we deserve.
So it's actually fitting that my chemoversary was just me and Jesus. It may not have been fair. But it was very personal.