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How to handle life when it is not fair

April 19th, 2010

Last Sunday at church, I was called in to talk to a crying 8-year-old boy.

“It’s not fair!” He told me in frustration.

Another boy had grabbed a Pepsi bottle from his hand, and in anger he started to swing at the boy and the teacher. It wasn’t fair that he got in trouble, and the other boy didn’t. It wasn’t fair that he didn’t get to have the Pepsi.

“Hey, life isn’t fair!” Isn’t that what we always tell our kids in situations like this? Yet, how are kids suppose to handle that reality of life?

I gave the boy a very adult talk that day:

“You are absolutely right, life is not fair. There are many times when things don’t turn out the way we think they should. You may get blamed for something you didn’t do; you may not get the reward you deserve; you may end up with less and someone else with more.

I could treat you like a little boy and tell you I can make things right for you. I can talk to the other boy, make him apologize and give you back the Pepsi, and make life good again. But I am not going to do that. I am not going to treat you like a little kid. I believe a 9-year-old like you are smart enough to understand something deeper.

You will always have disappointments, and more often than not, those things can’t be fixed. I can’t fix them, your parents can’t fix them either. Unfairness is a part of life.

So what are you going to do? Are you going to be mad for the rest of the Sunday school time? Are you going to sit here and sulk for an hour? Are you going to hate that boy and plot a revenge?

Listen, I am going to teach you something that many adults have not learned.

When life is not fair, take it like a man! That’s right. A strong man is someone who shows mercy and love to those who hate them. Remember what Jesus said? He said, If you love those who love you, what’s the big deal? Anyone can do that. And if you do good to those who are good to you, that’s nothing. Even ‘sinners’ do that. But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you are acting like a child of God. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.

To love people when they don’t love you is to show real strength. And I believe you are strong enough to do that. You have a chance here to show your real strength. If you become bitter or angry, you are no better than the one who hurt you. Remember to be like Jesus, no matter how people treat you.”

Do you think he understood? I hope so.


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  1. You are so right life is not fair.:(
    Things just don’t always go the way we would want them to.


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