One of my seven-year-old’s favorite phrases is “That’s not fair!” I always reply, “Life’s not fair,” continuing that ancient call and response heard between almost every child and parent, maybe David and Solomon also.
Teaching my son that life is not fair feels like passing on hard but necessary wisdom. I want him to have realistic expectations of life so that he can learn to be resolute in the face of arbitrary circumstances and cruel people.
But I also want my son to know the deeper, less obvious wisdom of the psalmist: Despite all the evidence we see to the contrary, those who bring down the poor and needy and kill the upright will not win. The Lord laughs at the hubris of those who think they can perpetuate injustice forever. In a little while, wickedness will be no more.
I find myself asking again, “How long, O Lord?” (Ps 13:1).
It’s been a few thousand years since the people of Israel first prayed this prayer and unfairness still reigns.
But again, the psalmist redirects our focus to the Lord, who upholds the righteous as they wait.
This does not feel fair to me, but I am so glad that it’s not up to me! I know that the wickedness I abhor also lives within me, and that in the judgment of the psalm, my arm is just as likely to be broken as held in the Lord’s embrace (v. 17).
I long for the day that justice will come, when the meek shall inherit the earth, and I pray that I will be found in their number.
What “unfairness” or wickedness do you see in the world? Within yourself?
Uphold us in your mercy, O Lord!