Summary: How do you respond to the unfairness of life? This message looks at seven possible responses. Part 1 of a series inspired by Philip Yancey’s book "Disappointment with God."
Innocent children are dying of starvation in Third World countries. Four Canadian soldiers died when a bomb was dropped on them from the sky during a training exercise. Missionary Martin Burnham was held captive by terrorists for 376 days until he was killed in a rescue attempt. Two weeks ago, Wesleyan Missionary Rolly Galam was robbed and killed in the Philippines, leaving behind a wife and three children. Entertainers become wealthy while making a mockery of morality. Producers of pornography have been rich and powerful. The rich continue to get richer, and the poor continue to get poorer.
And where is the fairness? How can there be such injustice in the world.
Today we’re beginning a new series entitled “Disappointment with God.” Over the next few weeks we’re going to talk about some of the tough questions in life: Why is life unfair? Why doesn’t God answer my prayers? Does God really care? If God’s so good, why does evil exist?
I’ll tell you right now that I’ll be pulling from a variety of sources as I prepare each message, but there’s one book in particular which I’ll be using. And coincidentally enough, it’s called “Disappointment with God.” It’s a book by Philip Yancey, and if you would like you can buy a copy at the Maritime Christian Bookstore.
There was a very powerful episode of The West Wing on a couple years ago. Anyone fans here? This one particular episode was entitled, Two Cathedrals, and dealt with the funeral of Mrs. Landingham. In the previous episode, Mrs. Landingham, the president’s elderly secretary, had bought her very first new car. But as she was driving it home after picking it up from the dealership she was struck and killed by a drunk driver. A senseless, unfair death.
So President Bartlet attends the funeral, and afterwards orders the Secret Service to seal the door of the church with him alone inside so he can have a little one-on-one with God.
“…She bought her first new car and you hit her with a drunk driver. What, is that supposed to be funny? ‘You can’t conceive, nor can I, the appalling strangeness of the mercy of God,’ says Graham Greene… I think you’re just vindictive. What was Josh Lyman, a warning shot? That was my son. What did I ever do to yours but praise his glory and praise his name? There’s a tropical storm that’s gaining speed and power. They say we haven’t had a storm this bad since you took out that tender ship of mine in the north Atlantic last year. Sixty-eight crew. You know what a tender ship does? Fixes the other ships. Doesn’t even carry guns. Just goes around fixing other ships and delivers the mail. That’s all it can do…
Have I displeased you, you feckless thug? Three point eight million jobs, that wasn’t good? Bailed out Mexico, increased foreign trade, thirty million new acres of land for conservation, put Mendoza on the bench, we’re not fighting a war, I’ve raised three children. That’s not enough to buy me out of the doghouse?
Haec credam a deo pio? A deo iusto, a deo scito? Cruciatus in crucem. Tuus in terra servus, nuntius fui. Officium perfeci. Cruciatus in crucem. Eas in crucem! (Am I really to believe that these are that acts of a loving God? A just God? A wise God? To hell with your punishments. I was your servant here on Earth. And I spread your word and I did your work. To hell with your punishments. To hell with you.)"
He said a few other things too, which I left out because of the words he used. I don’t use them in my personal life, and they certainly aren’t appropriate to use here. But it’s pretty clear that Bartlet was upset with God and was venting his frustration and his anger at the unfairness of life. And rightly so.
Let me tell you something: God is not afraid of you venting your real feelings. You can get angry with God. It’s okay to question Him and ask why things happen the way they do.
And that’s what Bartlet does. And I think we all share those feelings at one time or another. They’re honest, human emotions based on real life experiences.
The question is, how do we deal with these feelings? How do we deal with these experiences? How do we deal with it when life just seems unfair?
Well, we have a lot of different options. And we’re going to just run through a number of them. You can use the notes that were provided in your Sunrise Update to follow along. As you can see, there are more blanks and more points that we usually have, but don’t worry. We’re going to move through them fairly quickly and I won’t expand on them too much.