“It’s not fair!” How many times have we heard children make that statement when a siblings seems to be getting the better deal? How often have we, as adults said the same thing when circumstances in life don’t seem to fall in our favor?
Genesis 4 relates a story that may be familiar. Cain and Abel offer sacrifices to God. God found favor with Abel’s sacrifice, but not with Cain’s. Cain responded by murdering Abel and then had to deal with the consequences when God confronted him.
Many people have found this passage to be confusing; raising more questions than answers. Yet some interesting truths come to light when we take a closer look.
One of the questions raised by this passage is, “Why was Abel’s offering acceptable while Cain’s was not?” The text of this story does not offer any answer as to why the Lord looked upon the offerings as he did. Unfortunately, there is nothing anywhere else in the Biblical text that gives us any indication as to the answer for this question. We are left wondering why.
Inequity Is A Part of Life
While we don’t know why, we learn that inequity is a part of life and often remains unexplained. No doubt we can all think of people who have made great efforts to walk righteously before the Lord, yet constantly endure strife after strife. They just get through one terrible event when another one strikes. I know of a woman who lost her husband, son and daughter all in the span of about 2 years. Her husband died of cancer and about a year later her son died of cystic fibrosis, followed six months later by her daughter’s death also from cystic fibrosis.
On the other hand, we’ve all heard stories of those who have purposefully chosen to prey upon people and have gotten away with it. Stories about people who manage to swindle the elderly couple out of their life’s savings are far too common.
When placed side by side, these stories point to the unfairness that is part of life. As humans we want all things to be fair and they are not. One woman has to live through the loss of three people she loves dearly. Another man gains many thousands of dollars at the expense of others and suffers no apparent judgment.
While it is hard to not want things to be fair. Yet sometimes the expectation that life will be unfair makes the circumstances we have to deal with a little bit easier. Given the choice to walk into a dark room knowing or not knowing what to expect, most people would choose to know what to expect. If we know that life is going to be unfair, we are not quite as surprised and shocked when it actually turns out that way.