Unfairness of life is all around us. It is almost impossible to live in this world and not experience some degree of unfairness. The Savior Jesus Christ said, “In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.” (John 16: 33 in the Bible)
Dale G Renlund Discusses His Perspective on Unfairness
“In 1994, a genocide took place in the East African country of Rwanda that was partly due to deep-seated tribal tensions. Estimates are that more than half a million people were killed. Remarkably, the Rwandan people have in large part reconciled, but these events continue to reverberate. A decade ago, while visiting Rwanda, my wife and I struck up a conversation with another passenger at the Kigali airport. He lamented the unfairness of the genocide and poignantly asked, “If there were a God, wouldn’t He have done something about it?” For this man—and for many of us—suffering and brutal unfairness can seem incompatible with the reality of a kind, loving Heavenly Father. Yet He is real, He is kind, and He loves each of His children perfectly. This dichotomy is as old as mankind and cannot be explained in a simple sound bite or on a bumper sticker. To begin to make some sense of it, let us explore various types of unfairness. Consider a family in which each child received a weekly monetary allowance for doing common household chores. One son, John, purchased candy; one daughter, Anna, saved her money. Eventually, Anna bought herself a bicycle. John thought it was totally unfair that Anna got a bike when he did not. But John’s choices created the inequality, not parental actions. Anna’s decision to forgo the immediate gratification of eating candy did not impose any unfairness on John, because he had the same opportunity as his sister. Our decisions can likewise yield long-term advantages or disadvantages. When others receive benefits because of their diligent choices, we cannot rightly conclude that we have been treated unfairly when we have had the same opportunity. Some unfairness cannot be explained; inexplicable unfairness is infuriating. Unfairness comes from living with bodies that are imperfect, injured, or diseased. Mortal life is inherently unfair. Some people are born in affluence; others are not. Some have loving parents; others do not. Some live many years; others, few. And on and on and on. Some individuals make injurious mistakes even when they are trying to do good. Some choose not to alleviate unfairness when they could. Distressingly, some individuals use their God-given agency to hurt others when they never should. Different types of unfairness can merge, creating a tsunami of overwhelming unfairness. For instance, the COVID-19 pandemic disproportionately affects those who already are subject to multifactorial, underlying disadvantages. My heart aches for those who face such unfairness, but I declare with all my aching heart that Jesus Christ both understands unfairness and has the power to provide a remedy. Nothing compares to the unfairness He endured. It was not fair that He experienced all the pains and afflictions of mankind. It was not fair that He suffered for my sins and mistakes and for yours. But He chose to do so because of His love for us and for Heavenly Father. He understands perfectly what we are experiencing. Because Jesus Christ endured the infinite atoning sacrifice, He empathizes perfectly with us. He is always aware of us and our circumstances. In mortality, we can “come boldly” to the Savior and receive compassion, healing, and help. Even while we suffer inexplicably, God can bless us in simple, ordinary, and significant ways. As we learn to recognize these blessings, our trust in God will increase. In the eternities, Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ will resolve all unfairness. We understandably want to know how and when. How are They going to do that? When are They going to do it? To my knowledge, They have not revealed how or when. What I do know is that They will. Focus on developing faith in Jesus Christ, that He has both the power to make everything right and yearns to do so. Do not let unfairness harden you or corrode your faith in God. Instead, ask God for help. Increase your appreciation for and reliance on the Savior. Rather than becoming bitter, let Him help you become better. Allow Him to help you persevere, to let your afflictions be ‘swallowed up in the joy of Christ’. Join Him in His mission ‘to heal the brokenhearted’,”
If we dwell too long on the “Why” of the things that happen to us or our loved ones and the unfairness of life, we begin to counsel the Lord, get angry and die spiritually. It is part of life’s test to learn to trust, be patient and humble before God. The Lord does not bring afflictions and unfairness upon us, but He does permit it because of mankind’s agency and will use it to benefit us if we trust in Him. We should exercise our faith by trusting in the Lord Jesus Christ by enduring the unfairness of life and doing the best we can in keeping His commandments.
Quoted part of the remarks of Dale G. Renlund entitled “Infuriating Unfairness” at my church’s General Conference April 3, 2021.