Life Isn’t Fair

In recent weeks, I’ve stood with families of two women who were in the prime of their life. Lives cut short. Husbands left widowed. One with young children. One with young grandchildren.  Parents and siblings left behind.

Two women.  40-somethings. Lives cut short by an awful disease.  Strangers to each other but known by so many.  Both lovers of God and lovers of people.  They both loved deeply and were deeply loved.

Taken too soon.  That’s what we say.  But God knows.  He planned their lives.  He allowed the suffering.  He called them home before we were ready to release them.

That’s how it is.  We’re never ready to let go of family.   We’re never ready to let go of friends.   We have memories.  But we want more to make memories.  We want what we had.  The good times.  The face-to-face interactions.  The laughs.  The hugs.  We want more than memories.

I’ve stood on the receiving side of grief.  I know the pain.  I know the heartache.  The whispers of comfort from friends and family.

We may ask why.  Why them?  Why so soon?  Wasn’t there more they could have accomplished in life?  Why wasn’t a cure found for their disease?  Didn’t their families still need them?  Weren’t they too young?

It’s hard to understand when we lose loved ones.  Especially when they’re so young.  It’s sometimes hard to understand why God allows such things to happen.


Life isn’t fair. But God is good. 

Pain is hard to understand. But God is good. 

Loss is tough. But God is good. 

Grief is trying. But God is good. 

The unknown looms ahead.  But God is good.


These women are now walking the streets of gold.  They’ve seen the face of God.  They’ve met Jesus.  They’ve been welcomed into heaven’s gates.  They’ve received their final reward.

My mother used to say. I’m ready to go, but I’m not in any hurry.  After her death, I thought she was probably kicking herself for not being in a hurry.  She was in heaven.  Life’s ultimate reward.

These two women weren’t in any hurry, either.  They were ready.  But they had reason to live.  Family.  Friends.  Faith.  But God called them home.  Their time on earth was short.  Too short in our eyes.

The clock is ticking for all.  Our time will come.  Fair or not.  Will we be ready?

 

Gossipmonger

I remember the interview as if it were yesterday.  In reality, it’s been 21 years.

She became my boss.  I remember thinking we could probably be friends.  We couldn’t.  Her mood swings were the highest of highs and the lowest of lows.  A pendulum of emotions.  I watched every morning to see the look on her face as she walked in.  That one look would tell me how the day would play out.

We had a rocky relationship from the start.  Here, I thought we could be friends and it became the worst relationship of my life.  I was constantly being compared to the person I replaced.   I could do no right.  I couldn’t even ask good questions.  That’s what she told me.

She would tell me about the man who sat across the way from her.  I could never understand their problem.  But she talked about him more than she should have.  She stewed over the fact that he was male and she was female.  Life didn’t seem fair to her.

After many months, she told me the reason.   He knew her deep dark secret.  The one thing she only told a trusted few.  He had guessed.  She had confessed.  From that moment on, she didn’t trust him.  She knew he could out her at any time.  He never did.  But it was the elephant in the room.

Did she hate him because he knew her secret?  Could he not be trusted?  Had he really done anything wrong?  Was she afraid he was going to talk about her just as she talked about him?  Was her fear the enemy of her own soul?

He never said a word.  But he knew her secret.

She used to tell me the faults and misdeeds of others, as well.  I listened.  I noted.  I felt she was trying to sway my opinion.  I came to my own conclusions of those being discussed.  And of her.

You see.  One day the truth dawned.  It was a sad and scary truth.

If she was talking to me about others, then she was talking about me to others.  It’s a hard sentence to read.  It’s a harder truth to swallow.

That’s the way gossip goes.  No one is exempt.  You talk about the one you’re not with.  Your confidant is the one you’re with.  At that moment.

It happens all the time.

Innocent fact sharing.  Purposeful venting.  Secret letting.  Fact checking.  Getting the other side of the story.  Comparing details.  Insinuating evil.  Assuming our words are safe with certain others.

Gossipmonger:  A person who habitually passes on confidential information or spreads rumors.


Let the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O Lord my Rock and my Redeemer. Psalm 19:14


I think about my conversations.  When have I shared facts just to appear in the know?  When have I vented because the situation turned in someone else’s favor?  When have I spilled the beans about someone else’s life because I was with my best friend?  When have I fact checked just because?  When have I compared details because I don’t want to be confused?  When have I assumed my words were safe with others and they’ve come back to bite me?  When have I talked about others because they were different from me?

After the creation, God saw all the wickedness that was happening.  He saw that the hearts and thoughts of man were only evil all the time. He was sorry he had ever made man. (Genesis 6:5-6).  That smarts.  Smacks me upside the head with the truth about my own heart.  My own words.  My own intentions.

Who am I to judge others’ words and intentions when mine aren’t always pleasing to God?

Planted to Grow

She bought the best looking tomato plants she could find.  Two different varieties.  The tomato plants were beautiful.  So much hope.  So much promise.  They were destined for great results.

She planted them with care.  In pots.  She kept those pots on the deck away from stray animals.  Fearful that the deer and other unknown creatures of the wild would destroy her prized garden.

She watered the plants every day.  They began to grow.  And grow.  Stakes were put in place to hold and strengthen the growing stalks.  Soon the stalks were taller than the stakes.  These plants were going to overproduce.  She could just feel it.

The plants bloomed.  The heat of the summer would dry out the blooms.  She would water them more.  But finally.  Finally, she saw the tiny tomatoes starting to form on the plants.  Now the long wait began for ripe red tomatoes.

As the weeks went by, she noticed that the plants had reached their full height.  But they had also stopped blooming.  There were roughly 10 tomatoes on both plants combined.  No new blooms.  No new tomatoes.  How could that be?  These plants should be producing lots of tomatoes.

She continued watering the plants each day.  She began to notice the leaves were withering and dying.  Was she watering the plants too much?  She didn’t think so.  After all, it was really hot and muggy most days.  They needed water.

Then one day, she noticed the roots on one of the plants.  She realized she had planted her prize tomatoes in shallow pots.  The roots had reached their limit.  They had no more room to grow.

She didn’t know that what is seen above the soil is determined by what’s hidden under it. She didn’t know that the roots are the biggest part of the plant.  She didn’t know that a healthy tomato plant needs a lot of space for a strong root system.  If only she had studied about tomatoes.  How to plant them.  How to feed and water them.  How to get them to produce the best and most tomatoes.  But she didn’t.  She just planted them, watered them and left them to grow on their own.

She didn’t know that during the hot, sun-blazing days, the plants would begin to wither and die because the root structure wasn’t able to go deep enough to sustain life and continued growth.

Sure.  These plants are producing tomatoes.  But there’s not an abundance of the crop.  There’s only a handful of pitiful looking small tomatoes.  The fruit of the vine didn’t live up to its potential.  Simply because of the lack of preparation and proper planting.


The seed on the rocky soil represents those who hear the message and immediately receive it with joy.  But since they don’t have deep roots, they don’t last long.  They fall away as soon as they have problems or are persecuted for believing God’s word.  Matthew 13: 20-21


 

She was raised in a Christian home where God’s word was regularly shared.  Her family read the Bible together.  They prayed together.  They had devotions together.

Her parents tended to their garden of their 7 children.  They sowed the seed of the gospel.  They planted the disciplines of a godly life.  They watered the Biblical teachings by taking their family to church.  Her parents did their part to allow the Word of God to be fruitful in her life.

As she became an adult, she realized she must take ownership for her relationship with God.  Her parents did the work that was entrusted to them.  They introduced her to Christ, and now she must continue the work in her heart.   Now she must till the soil to remove any weeds and thorns of jealousy, anger or comparison.  She continues to dig up rocks and stones in her heart that get in the way of the seeds her parents planted so many years ago.  She has to continually water her soul with the Word of God, so her roots will grow deep and not be parched and wither.  It’s a daily work in the garden of her heart that will produce a healthy and mature Christian.

She knows what God requires of her.  He tells her what she needs to do to please Him.  He wants to have a close relationship with her.  He wants her to study the words He’s written.  He wants her to grow roots deep in His love.  He wants her to spend time alone with Him.  Reading His word.  Listening to the words he says to her.  Learning the lessons he wants to teach her.  Growing closer to him by spending time together.

After all, they are in a relationship.

In any other relationship, she spends time with the person.  Talking to them.  Listening to them.  Finding common ground.  Learning differences.  Becoming friends.  Wanting to spend even more time together.  Falling in love.

Why shouldn’t her relationship with God be the same?  He’s the friend who will never leave her.  He will never give up on her.  He’s always available when she needs him.