When life isn’t fair

Let’s face it, life isn’t fair.

In fact, it can be downright cruel. My prayer journal is filled with requests that break my heart and challenge my hope.

As followers of Christ, we know this life isn’t all there is and that we can expect troubles. Jesus Himself told us as much in John 16:33. But we also hope (and pray) that if we’re faithful and obedient then we’ll escape some of those troubles.

We claim God’s powerful promises, like …

Train up a child in the way he should go

… and we ask God to protect our children when they’re sowing their wild oats.

We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him

… and we ask God to restore a rocky relationship.

Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse... test Me in this

… and we ask God to bless our finances.


But what happens to our faith when we’ve done everything right, or at least as right as possible on our part, and God doesn’t answer those prayers? What happens when someone we love experiences heartbreak after heartbreak?

What comfort can we offer the trusting parent whose wayward child died as a result of bad decisions?

Or the believing spouse whose divorce has just been finalized?

Or the faithful business owner who is forced to file bankruptcy?

It’s hard when life’s not fair, answers aren’t found, and God seems silent.

When our lives turn upside down, we wrestle with our faith and struggle for answers. When we see our friends’ lives upended, we want to offer encouragement from God’s Word. We grasp at verses to remind our brokenhearted friends that God answers prayers and has a plan and a purpose in everything…

But it only serves as a reminder that God didn’t answer their prayers. And the plan they’re seeing unfold is filled with pain.

When words fail to bring comfort, it’s best to stop talking and start being. Being present in the moment. Being sensitive to their grief. Being confused along with our hurting friends. Job’s friends gave him plenty of advice, but no comfort. In fact, they were probably more help to Job before they opened their mouths.

Sometimes our presence is more valuable than our insight. We can’t presume to know the mind of God, nor presume that things here in the earthly realm will work out the way we hope. But we trust that some day, in time and with the Lord’s healing touch, we can look back with them and rejoice that

what we suffer now is nothing compared to the glory he will give us later

Heavenly Father, help us to be compassionate and sensitive when faced with life’s heartbreak–both ours and our friends’. May we bear the image of Christ in each situation we encounter this new year.

Susan Stilwell

Susan Stilwell consults, writes and speaks on a variety of topics. Her clients appreciate her technical expertise and attention to detail on their websites, projects, and social media strategies. Technical "how-tos" are Susan's favorite articles to write. You can find her working as a blog designer and contributing writer at Fistbump Media. Susan also serves as a hospital chaplain associate and is a voracious scripture memorizer. She's a conference speaker and passionate expositor of God’s Word, and active on Twitter, Facebook, and SusanStilwell.com

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  1. This is a wonderful post, Susan! When I’ve walked through difficult times, what I needed more than anything was someone to be with me. Sometimes the tried and true Bible verses seem empty in the first raw hours or days – or even weeks. Those who are suffering need comfort and love more than words!

  2. Susan, I thought this post was extraordinary. It sees right to the heart of those who are suffering and find themselves questioning God’s ways.

  3. I’ve been waiting for 22 years for one son to return to the Lord…I guess I take comfort from great bible characters like Sarah who was promised a child that didn’t come until she was in her 90’s, and Simeon waited many a long year to see Jesus….. I just have to stand on the promises of God and wait in faith believing that even if I don’t see the answer in my lifetime, God is still faithful.
    I totally agree about being sensitive with those in a long waiting pattern….it’s important just to be heard…..and to give examples of where God has been faithful after some very long waits.
    Lord, make us so sensitive to the Holy Spirit that we will know when to remain silent and just listen, and when to offer inspired comforting words and not to make light of the burdens people are carrying.

    Love you Susan.

  4. Powerful reminder that His ways (and timing) aren’t our ways and timing. Thank you! I’m praying now for all of us who are in a mode of waiting on Him and His perfect will for our lives…and the lives of those we love.

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