My happiness grows in direct proportion to my acceptance, and in inverse proportion to my expectations. ~ Michael J. Fox
You do all you can to live a healthy life.
You exercise. You eat all the right foods. You stay away from all the things that are toxic to the body. You even take care of your mind and spirit by taking in only certain kinds of information.
You go to the doctor for a routine exam and that’s when you’re hit with devastating news concerning your health.
How could this happen? How could this happen to me?
There are so many situations where these words are uttered.
You studied hard for a test but failed miserably.
You gave half your life to your job but got fired unceremoniously.
You saved for retirement but lost everything to the stock market.
You change your online passwords every month but still got your identity stolen.
You did all you could to keep your child on the straight and narrow but they still went astray.
You prayed to God for healing but you still got sick.
And as if to add insult to injury, you know people who are half the quality person you are, but who seem to have all that you want handed to them on a silver platter.
You pump your fist in righteous indignation at the unfairness of it all. Life is unfair. Yes, you’ve heard this phrase before, maybe even agree with it. But somewhere deep within you is another script running in the background that goes something like this:
“If I do good things and am a good person, good things will happen to me. A few bad things might happen, but I will be spared from the really bad stuff.”
Sadly, many people of faith base their relationship with God on this basic assumption— “I will worship you if you keep the really bad stuff out of my life.”
We bargain with God.
We bargain with the universe.
We bargain with our institutions.
We bargain with the people closest to us.
We bargain with ourselves.
Predictably, when the unthinkable happens we lose faith in the thing, deity, or person we placed our trust in. We become withdrawn, angry, and bitter. We may even blame ourselves for the bad thing or try to ascribe some meaning to it. Because it’s unbearable for us to even entertain the notion that bad things can happen for no reason at all.
It can happen, not because God is bad or because you were bad, but because we live in a world where bad things can and do happen.
Of course, there are many bad things that happen because people consciously choose to act in ways that harms themselves or others. But we’re talking about the “Acts of God” that have nothing to do with God.
How can we deal with the unfairness of life?
By coming to peace with the random aspects of our lives.
By understanding that our greatest source of pain is holding on to the belief that life should be fair.
By understanding that every single moment of every single day is a gift not to be squandered or wasted.
Once you understand these, you’ll stop imposing your bargains on a God who cannot accept the terms. You’ll stop trying to manipulate people and the world to conform to your will. And the quality of your life will dramatically improve.