There is something else meaningless that occurs on earth: the righteous who get what the wicked deserve, and the wicked who get what the righteous deserve. This too, I say, is meaningless.
Ecclesiastes 8:14 (NIV)
Life isn’t fair.
As I read Solomon’s astute observation, pasted above, I was taken back to watching 12 Years a Slave with Wendy earlier this year. It is the true story of a talented, educated and free African-American man kidnapped from his family by slave traders and taken south to be sold into slavery. It is a gut wrenching story much like the story of Schindler’s List or The Hiding Place. History is chalk full of such things, and most every companion I’ve known on life’s road can share a story or two of less horrific yet intensely personal experiences with life’s unfair qualities.
I really appreciate Solomon’s honesty as I read through it again. The further I get in my life journey the more willing I am to accept that the sojourn is fraught with mysteries that I may ponder endlessly without ever reaching complete understanding. I don’t know why the righteous sometimes suffer what the wicked deserve and the wicked seemingly enjoy the rewards befitting the righteous.
I do realize, however, that when I’ve suffered life’s injustices I have emerged with a measure of wisdom and maturity that could only have been acquired through the suffering. I know those who seemingly have it so much easier than me, but then I discover that they are suffering an internal kind of personal, relational, and/or spiritual hell. I have also met those who seemingly have far less than me, whose road seems infinitely more difficult than mine, but then I find that they experience a personal, relational and spiritual peace and joy that appears incongruent to their life’s difficulty.
I may not understand all of life’s mysteries, but I feel quite confident in my daily task:
to seek God wholeheartedly,
to faithfully walk the path set before me with joy,
to be wise in my decisions and patient as I plod,
to leverage self-control in order to do good in thought, word, and act,
to be gentle with myself and with those entrusted to my care and provision,
to live peacefully others and treat both companions and strangers with love, kindness, respect, and forgiveness.