August 5th, 2011 – Acts 23

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“Life is not fair; get used to it.” – Bill Gates

We have this strange obsession with keeping things fair in our society. Often we hear that the Constitution guarantees our happiness; actually, to quote Mr. Benjamin Franklin, the Constitution only guarantees the pursuit of happiness; you have to catch it yourself.


This attitude can often leak over into our spiritual life as well. How many of our prayers sound something like this: Dear Lord, we just need a new car (so we don’t have to be embarrassed with our rust held together with duct tape), please help me get that promotion (so I don’t have to work under that nincompoop anymore), please help Kohl’s to have a sale this weekend (so I can look as good as Mrs. Glesterhosen down the street). We may not say the phrases in parenthesis, but that’s really what we’re thinking. Many of our prayers are really about our happiness and making things fair, not about building a relationship with God.

The truth is life isn’t fair. It never has been, it never will be this side of heaven (and even then, Jesus only has one left and right side with places reserved for someone other than you and I, I’d wager.) Even Jesus’ earliest followers found this out.


In Acts 12, Peter finds himself in jail. An angel shows up and says “Get dressed Peter; time to go,” and off Peter goes into the wild blue yonder. In our reading for today, Paul finds himself in prison, and an angel shows up. Guess what the angel says. “Take courage, you’re gonna stay in custody until you get to Rome in a few weeks/months, and will be under arrest there for 2 years.” (EverydayDevotions paraphrase). What’s the deal? Peter gets let out and Paul is told to settle in for the long haul? How is that fair?

In an nutshell, it’s not fair. “Fair” is rarely God’s purpose for our lives. Peter and Paul both served the Lord, but in different ways. Both of them were right where God wanted them to be, even though their circumstances were radically different. Our goal in life should not be to equalize blessings, but to be in God’s service to the uttermost of our ability. If we obsess over how “unfair” things are, we may miss out on fully becoming what God wants us to be.

Can you go the whole day today without praying for life to be more “fair”? Can you pray just to know and be in God’s will?


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