Summary: This series examines some of the emotional holes we fall into and how we might crawl out.

February 24, 2002

Job 1:1-6; 30: 25-27

Crawling Out of the Fairness Hole

On April 12, 1995, two young women were traveling between Sunman Indiana and Milan Indiana in a nearly new Mustang GT. The 18 year old was driving, the 19 year old was in the passenger seat. A they rounded a rain slick curve in the road in which they had traveled hundreds of times, the Mustang began to slide toward the ditch. The young woman at the wheel over compensated a bit and the car flipped over and landed in a ditch. They were not speeding, in fact, they were judged by the Indiana State Police to be traveling more than twenty miles per hour under the posted speed limit. Both girls were ejected from the car, neither wore a seat belt. The passenger sprained her ankle and had a small laceration on her left elbow. The driver’s neck was broken and died at the scene. When I got the call later that day from the father of the driver, one of my best friends, he ended the conversation with these words, “It doesn’t seem fair.”

A little over four years earlier the chairman of my Board of Deacon’s at Petersburg 1st Baptist Church lay dying of pancreatic cancer at the age of 48 in room number 4304 at St. Mary’s Hospital just down the street. He had traveled to M.D. Anderson, Indiana Medical School and Vanderbilt University during the short six months since he had been diagnosed with the cancer. His last words to me were, “Promise me that you will take care of my family.” I promised. Nine months later, his eldest daughter was married a little further down Washington Avenue at St. Ben’s Catholic Church. As we stood in the Narthex, she said, “It isn’t fair that Daddy won’t walk me down this aisle.” Her uncle Russ was a good stand in but it wasn’t her daddy. A year and a half later when she gave birth to her first child she once again said those difficult words, “It’s not fair that dad can’t hold his first grandchild.”

Eight years earlier, Gayle and I were moving into the parsonage at Moores Hill First Baptist on December 17, 1983. We were so excited to be moving in. A young woman was hanging curtains in our living room, her name was Dorothy. The ambulance siren was heard just down the street. It stopped in front of the insurance agency in which she and her husband owned and operated. She looked but continued to work. An EMT ran toward the church a block south and hollered, “Dorothy, Dorothy, come quick, it’s Donnie.” By the time she ran to his side, he was already gone, dead from a massive heart attack at the age of 37. As we rode to the hospital for a futile attempt at resuscitation she uttered, “I think I will be able to accept that Donnie is gone but, not being able to say good-bye, just isn’t fair.”

Whether it is an 18 year old automobile accident victim, a 48 year old father of three with cancer, a 37 year old husband dead of a massive heart attack, Joni Eareckson Tada in a wheel chair, a voice saying, “Let’s Roll” or 300 plus rescue workers killed going into the World Trade Center while thousands rushed out, the common thread statement is true, “It’s just not fair.”

Unless you were born in a box, raised in a bubble and reside in a fairy tale you all know the truth of this next statement, “Life ain’t fair.” Even when you know that truth it is ever so inconsolably, horribly acute, gut wrenchingly familiar and incontrovertible that when one of life’s unfair moments strikes you smack in the face, when the unfair circumstances knocks you down and pierces your soul, you are dumped into a hole that is difficult at best and impossible at worst to crawl out of. The unfair hole is even deeper and more difficult to climb from when you land in the basement titled, “What if.” What if we had put those new rain tires on Cindy’s car? What if I had pushed Daddy a little harder to go get that physical? What if I had insisted on a trip to the hospital last week when Donnie felt that tightness in his chest as we moved that couch from the living room to the family room?

Well folks, what if we get honest today, real honest? What if we just start with the real question that every one of you has had in the back of your mind’s in those times when we are confronted by the unfairness’s of life. The unasked question that we have all been on the edge of asking when we have found ourselves crumpled at the bottom of the hole of fairness. If God is good, Why is life so unfair? If God is perfectly just how is it that so much of life seems anything but just?

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