Life is not always fair. We all experience times when we feel like we are being treated unjustly or when we see others seeming to get ahead while we struggle. During difficult seasons, we may wonder if God cares or if He sees the unfairness we are facing.
The Bible has a lot to say about this issue. Looking closely at Scripture gives us perspective and helps us process these painful emotions in a healthy way while continuing to trust God. In this comprehensive post, we will explore the biblical perspective on unfairness and how God calls us to respond.
- God’s ways are higher than our ways. His ultimate plans are good even when life feels unfair.
- Suffering is a reality of living in a fallen world with sin. It is not necessarily connected to personal sin.
- God promises to be with us in our suffering and unfair circumstances. We are not alone.
- How we respond to unfairness matters. We should avoid bitterness and retaliation and instead extend grace.
- Our eternal reward in Christ is greater than any earthly suffering we face. An eternal perspective helps us endure present troubles.
- We are called to care for the poor and oppressed. God is a just God who cares deeply about injustice.
God’s Ways Are Higher Than Our Ways
One of the most important principles Scripture teaches about unfairness is that God’s ways are higher than our ways (Isaiah 55:9). His thoughts are infinitely above what we can imagine or understand. When we feel life is unfair, it’s easy to become bitter, confused, and doubtful of God’s goodness. But the Bible reminds us that we see everything from a limited human perspective. We do not have the wisdom, knowledge, and foresight that God possesses.
For example, consider the story of Joseph in Genesis 37-50. Joseph’s brothers sold him into slavery out of jealousy. He was imprisoned for years for a crime he did not commit. His circumstances seemed horribly unfair. Yet, Joseph maintained trust in God. In the end, he was able to say to his brothers, “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good” (Genesis 50:20). The unfair actions of Joseph’s brothers were used by God to place Joseph in a position to save many lives.
“As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” (Isaiah 55:9)
Because we are finite human beings, we will never fully understand God’s higher purposes. His ways are unsearchable (Romans 11:33-34). However, we can rest assured that His plans are good, just, and motivated by perfect love. He promises to work all things together for our good as we trust Him (Romans 8:28). That includes the unfair circumstances we walk through.
Suffering is a Reality of Living in a Fallen World
The Bible is realistic about the presence of human suffering and unfairness. From Genesis 3 onward, the Scriptures show the damaging effects of sin on creation. When Adam and Eve rebelled against God, sin entered the human heart. This not only broke humanity’s relationship with God but also introduced pain, conflict, natural disasters, illness, and dysfunction into the world.
The persistent unfairness we experience is part of the collateral damage from the Fall. As Romans 8:20-22 explains, all of creation is groaning under the weight and futility of sin. Unjust treatment, natural disasters, illness, and death itself all stem from the underlying problem of sin. This brokenness is the current state of our world.
However, the Bible offers hope that these conditions are only temporary. The day is coming when God will erase all effects of sin and restore creation to His original design (Revelation 21:1-5). For now, believers are called to be lights in the darkness by doing good works, loving others, and sharing the hope of the gospel.
“We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time.” (Romans 8:22)
Suffering is unavoidable in our current world. But we can find comfort knowing that God is still in control and that a day is coming when all unfairness will cease. Our present sufferings are “not worth comparing to the glory that will be revealed in us” (Romans 8:18). An eternal perspective helps us endure temporary trials.
God Promises To Be With Us in Our Suffering
One of the greatest comforts for believers facing unfair circumstances is the promise of God’s presence. We are not alone in our pain and confusion. Scripture contains many assurances that God is right there with His children, even walking through the valley of the shadow of death (Psalm 23:4).
For instance, when the prophet Daniel was treated unfairly and thrown into a lion’s den for praying, God miraculously shut the lions’ mouths and protected him (Daniel 6). When Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego were sentenced to death for refusing to worship an idol, God walked with them in the fiery furnace, ensuring they were not even singed (Daniel 3). He will act similarly for us.
Jesus reassures us that in this world we will have trouble, but we can take heart because He has overcome the world (John 16:33). The Holy Spirit dwells within believers as the Comforter who surrounds us with God’s comfort, peace and hope in the midst of injustice (John 14:26-27, 2 Corinthians 1:3-4). We are never alone because God is Emmanuel, “God with us” (Matthew 1:23).
“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.” (Isaiah 43:2-3)
Rather than hiding from us in our pain, God promises to walk through it with us. He will never leave us or forsake us, no matter what unfair treatment we may face (Deuteronomy 31:6). This empowers us to respond to injustice and suffering with faith rather than bitterness.
Our Response to Unfairness Matters
Human beings tend to respond to unfairness with resentment, anger, and vengeance. However, the Bible calls believers to a different response. When we face injustice as children of God, our actions and attitudes should align with His character.
Romans 12:17-21 provides an excellent standard for how Christians should react to unfair treatment. We are instructed to:
- Not repay evil for evil
- Live at peace with everyone as far as it depends on us
- Not take revenge but leave it to God’s wrath
- Feed our enemy if they are hungry
- Overcome evil with good
Rather than demanding our rights or taking matters into our own hands, we are called to extend grace and lean into God’s peace. This does not mean allowing people to continue harming us without consequence. But it does mean relinquishing bitterness and violent retaliation.
Jesus provided the ultimate example of this response during His crucifixion. He endured tremendous unfairness but responded with the powerful words, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34). Stephen mirrored Christ by praying for the forgiveness of those stoning him in Acts 7:60. Their examples teach us how God desires His people to handle injustice with grace.
“Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath.” (Romans 12:17-19)
The Bible calls us to advocate for justice, protect the oppressed, and take wise precautions against harm. However, our response to unfair treatment should be characterized by grace, not vengeance. This maintains our testimony and allows space for God to work.
Our Eternal Reward is Greater Than Any Earthly Suffering
One reason we can respond to unfairness with grace is our eternal perspective. Paul says in 2 Corinthians 4:17 that our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. The difficulties we face on earth are brief in light of eternity.
God does not ignore the pain of injustice and suffering. He mourns it far more than we do. However, He sees everything in context of the glory that is to come. The book of Revelation shows how He will one day make all things new and wipe away every tear (Revelation 21:1-5). On that day, the wrongs will be made right. Our pain will cease. All injustice will be banished.
Knowing this eternal hope allows us to walk through present trials with confidence. Our real home is in heaven where we will live forever, free from sin’s consequences (Philippians 3:18-21). Out of his deep trust in God, Abraham was able to obey Him even when the command seemed profoundly unfair. He reasoned that “God could raise the dead” and so he chose to trust rather than accuse (Hebrews 11:17-19).
The next life is far more important than this one. When we suffer unjustly, it helps to remember that “our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all” (2 Corinthians 4:17). The pain is temporary. God’s justice and rewards are eternal.
“I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.” (Romans 8:18)
God Cares Deeply About Injustice
A final important truth is that God cares deeply about injustice, oppression, and the suffering of the innocent. Though He allows trials for His purposes, God’s heart breaks over the unfairness in this world. He hates sin and the effects it has. That is why He sent Jesus – to redeem the world from sin’s grip.
Throughout the Old Testament, God raised up prophets who rebuked His people for oppressing the poor, widowed, orphaned and helpless. He called them to “learn to do right, seek justice, defend the oppressed, take up the cause of the fatherless, plead the case of the widow” (Isaiah 1:17). God does not cause human trafficking, racism, poverty, and abuse. He condemns these evils.
Jesus reflected the Father’s heart for justice during His earthly ministry. He challenged societal prejudice, elevated women, embraced outcasts, and cared for the marginalized. His followers are called to carry on this mission. James 1:27 says that true religion is to care for widows and orphans in their distress.
God promises to ultimately bring perfect justice. Evil will not go unpunished. But in the meantime, He calls believers to be His hands and feet – doing whatever we can to ease suffering and enact justice in His strength.
“He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” (Micah 6:8)
Rather than causing injustice, God desires to heal and redeem what sin has broken. He wants us to persist in doing good and trusting Him with the outcomes. One day, He will make all wrongs right.
Life often feels unfair. But in those times, we can find comfort, hope and direction from God’s Word. The Bible teaches that God’s ways are higher than ours and His ultimate plan is good. Suffering is part of living in a sinful world, but God promises to walk with us through it. He calls us to respond to injustice with grace rather than revenge, keeping an eternal perspective. Most importantly, Scripture assures us that God deeply cares about fairness and stands against evil. He sent Jesus to redeem the world from sin and will one day bring perfect justice.
When you face unfair situations, resist the temptation to become angry and bitter. Instead, cling to God’s truths. Surrender your rights to Him. Allow His Spirit to empower you to do good and advocate for justice. Remember that He sees all that is happening and promises to work it for your eternal good. With this biblical foundation, you can walk through unfair seasons with graceful endurance and unshakable hope.