What is God’s Size? When Life Is Unfair

A spider with thin black legs and a white body the size of a tennis ball. On my stove. Could anything be worse? I scream, and keep screaming, but Marnell doesn’t seem to hear. I rush into the other room to get him, but by the time we return to the kitchen, the spider has disappeared. Yes, this is worse. But I comfort myself. At least now I have something dramatic to recount in my blog post.

This comfort ends when I wake up and realize that the tennis ball-sized spider was a dream. Well, I’m glad it was a dream, don’t get me wrong. But now, I have to write about what I’ve really been thinking about, something harder to conquer than a huge arachnid. The great existential question.

If this question were an animal, it would be a spider with a tennis ball-sized body that hides when you try to kill it.

Why is Life Unfair?

Life is unfair in some moderate ways that provide a good struggle to our egos and ambitions.

Two students study hard for a test. One aces it and the other barely passes. Two moms have babies born the same day. One is fussy, the other is angelic. Two writers publish books. One is wildly successful, the other plods along.

Somehow, I think writers are the worst at this, although maybe it’s just because that’s what I’m familiar with. But it’s a much discussed topic, even among Christian writers. It’s sort of a ridiculous competition, since writers really don’t compete against each other as much as against other forms of entertainment. It’s good for me if people read other people’s books, because it is more likely they will read mine too, for example. But still. We struggle. Don’t believe me? The other night in a fit of exhaustion and grouchiness, I told Marnell that I may as well quit writing because everyone else does better anyway. Or some childish thing like that.

My hunch is that every person has been at both ends of the stick at one time or another. We can always look at someone who is worse off than us, and someone who is better off than us in whatever aspect of life we are thinking about at the time. Of course, one good solution is to avoid comparison. But as long as we have eyes and ears, we will be confronted with people who worked harder than us and have less, and people who worked less hard than us and have more, whether we consider wealth, beauty, “success,” health, book sales, or any of the other variables of life. I say “success” because I think in general the word is very poorly defined. As one person put it, If wealth were the inevitable result of hard work, every woman in Africa would be a millionaire.

But life is also unfair in ways that make our spines tingle.

Feet in dress shoes crunch across gravel, damp with rain. Car wheels and more car wheels roll in for a Sunday afternoon funeral that no one expected just a week before. My nephew? In a casket? The one that Anina was going to run around with and fight with and grown up with?

These are the facts:

  • Two sisters have babies in 2021. One baby dies of SIDs and the other lives. My baby is the one who lived.

There are so many others, even just in the realm of babies.

  • Two families pray for a child. One family receives a child. The other does not. We are the ones who did.
  • Two women have babies in 2021. One Mom dies of cancer shortly after. The other does not. I am still alive.

Meanwhile, my grandmother weeps on her sick bed because she woke up and found herself still on earth.

In another room, a woman lies ill and dying. A nurse asks, “Where is your husband?” The woman replies, “He ran off with the babysitter.”

Some people spend years building their lives, only to watch it collapse into the rubble of war or disease. Other people spend years building their lives, and watch their children and grandchildren before dying of old age surrounded by family.

The stories I have heard from war or from the Holocaust fry my mind. I thought of a sentence to write, about something I read but I can’t put the words on the page. They are too terrible.

Anyone who thinks they have “figured out” the inequalities of life either is flatly ignoring reality, or lives a very sheltered life. We can give these unfair things to God, yes. We can pray for grace, yes. But I do not think we can “figure them out” or out-think them.

What is God’s Size?

At the recent funeral for my nephew, a perfect baby with all of life before him, the preacher (his uncle) shared this thought. If God were small enough to understand, He would not be big enough to be trusted.

I was taught by my parents from a young age that life isn’t fair. I’m glad for this, but even then, I struggle with it.

I think the only progress I’ve made since my first struggles with this topic is that I no longer expect to be able to figure it out. I’m not saying I don’t try anyway at times. And judging from the psalms, it’s not against the rules to ask God why things happen the way they do. But, God is not small enough for the human brain to understand. Human advice and explanations are basically the worst form of support for those suffering, as Job’s three friends demonstrated.

There are no good human answers in this life for life’s unfairness. There are no poisons to kill this spidery question.

There is only God’s grace. Grace, the most powerful force in the world, which can appear at any time, but which cannot be conjured by our demands.

Grace, that took my Grandma finally to glory as I typed this post. Grace, the tangible expression of God’s love.

Grace, which we can only hold our hand open to receive, which we can only pray will be showered on the people who need it most. Grace, which we can be a part of, not as saviors rushing to aid the poor, but as needy people assisting other needy people.

If God were small enough to understand, He would not be big enough to be trusted.

Announcements, etc.

Planning a Black Friday sale sometime BEFORE Black Friday. 😊 Details to follow.

Terry, Gary and Larry Fitzpatrick live in northern Indiana along the St. Joseph River. President Reagan lives in the White House. Gasoline costs 90 cents a gallon. For families like the Fitzpatricks, computers and cell phones are still things of the future. The boys’ Christian parents teach them to pray and give them a project to learn the fruit of the Spirit. They help Gary navigate the pain of losing his leg and his firefighting dreams.

But having a wooden leg doesn’t keep Gary from adventures. With Terry the acrobat, and Larry the brain, Gary begins a quest to find an answer to the most important mystery of all.

What happened to the surgeon who amputated Gary’s leg, and has now disappeared?

12 thoughts on “What is God’s Size? When Life Is Unfair”

  1. That quote has comforted me daily since Wyatt’s funeral! Life is not fair by earthly standards, but God is still good all the time! A friend sent me a text yesterday that said “How big is your God?” It was such a precious reminder who God really is. And by the way, I think you’re an amazing writer! 💞

  2. This was a wonderful post. It makes so much sense of things that don’t make sense. There’s just no figuring out of some things and we have to accept that.

  3. A treasured friend of ours named Gary has this quote.. :
    “GRACE= God’s unmerited favor”.. I have always liked that !
    I enjoy your ✍writings..

  4. Thank you so much for sharing! Just yesterday, I was weeping before the Lord and even managed to say …. “It’s not fair, Father!”

    Yes, there are many things in life that are not fair. There are things that makes no sense at all to us. And yet, just as you shared, God is good and worthy to be trusted, even when we don’t understand. Thank you!

    P.S. I think you’re an amazing writer! I look forward to Saturday mornings when I get to read a new post from you! 🙂

  5. Good thoughts on the struggles with life’s unfairness. Especially focusing on our Big God rather than our circumstances.

  6. What if it would be, though?

    What is life would be fair?

    Maybe I am naïve, but I don’t see how I can claim to believe in a just, all-encompassing God and His law of sowing and reaping, and then turn around and say but THIS particular thing isn’t fair because it doesn’t fit into what I think should have happened right now based on my tiny perspective of the universe.

    I think a lot of the time when we say life isn’t fair we really mean that life isn’t the same for everyone…and honestly I don’t know where we got the idea that it should be. We aren’t created the same. We don’t want the same things, or do the same things, or believe the same thing.
    And what if the fairness of life isn’t limited to to little chunks – like in the example of one writer having much success and the other struggling, how can we claim to know if that is fair or not? We don’t know what either writer sowed in the past, not just in writing but in the rest of her life, and we don’t know what either of their futures hold.

    Here’s a fun thought: Life isn’t fair…compared to what?
    What would you have to do, supposing you had all power, in order to make life fair?

    I acknowledge that the place and parents to which we are born have an enormous effect on our lives, and that may seem unfair because we don’t choose that…at least, as far as we know. But once again, if I don’t believe where we’re born is in our control, then it’s random or it’s in God’s hands…and that means it’s either blindly impartial or it’s a God-planned thing. And then being affected by our parents and being able to have an effect on our children, that’s also a law of our world – we’re relational creatures and we cannot keep from impacting those around us, for good or ill.

    My question is:
    Why do we want to believe that life is not fair?
    Where does that belief come from?
    And where does it lead?

  7. Love this so much!
    If God were small enough to understand, He would not be big enough to be trusted.
    What perfect words. And not only the quote but also the whole post. You have a gift; thank you for sharing your words and your heart ❣️

  8. I’m so sorry to hear about your little nephew. Please give my condolences to your sister.
    I enjoy your posts and look forward to reading them! This one especially touches a topic close to my heart..I’ve wrestled with the whole fairness of life question too. Trusting that God has reasons we may not understand until eternity has helped me and experiencing God’s grace during the hard trials has helped me trust Him more.
    Blessings to you!

  9. I’m so very sorry to hear about your nephew and your Grandma. I enjoyed your post and as a matter of fact, I look forward to your weekly posts. Just don’t comment much, I’m not a huge fan of alot of the drama on social media 😏 My dad taught us that life is fair because God is perfect, He cannot be unfair.He would say life is fair, only it is unequal. This is not to say I don’t understand where you’re coming from, I do. Someday I look forward to having our questions answered!

  10. Im so sorry 😢 for the pain your sister and all your family went thru w the passing of your lil nephew. Definitely doesn’t seem fair. But I love the quote about God being too big for us to understand, therefore we can trust He has a greater purpose and plan.
    I remember studying Job thouroughly and desperately thru the year of raw grief after my dad was killed at only age 53 and we weren’t positive he was ready to go. How were we sposed to go on?! Was Heaven even worth it? What was God thinking?! Did prayer even ever make a difference and all the awfulness of a shaky questioning faith. And like you came to the conclusion that God is far above our finite minds. Who am I to question the One who made the snow, the majestic mountains, and on and on. He has a greater plan above my own, I don’t need to figure it out all I need is to trust He has a greater plan and purpose for His glory. And it’s pure misery not to align myself with that plan as He reveals it to me in His time. I’m still learning. May you sense His comfort and love.

  11. Thank you for sharing your writings for others to read. So many times it mirrors my own thots, I just didn’t know how to put it into words. So sorry for the grief in your family recently. And now grappling with the kidnappings in Haiti!! Fair? What does that even mean? But we KNOW God knows what will happen next & what He will do with it & thru it!

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