Bad things happen to good people. Good things happen to bad people. I know this to be only too true of life.
Two years ago, on the Easter weekend of 2009, I was sitting on the side of a road in Zimbabwe. I was crying out for justice to be done and feeling pretty angry and broken. Countless statistics were circling my mind; life expectancy, infant mortality rate, the spread of HIV, unemployment, inflation, inflation, inflation. Images from stories I’ve read – permanently etched into my mind – sat vibrantly at the forefront of my imagination. There is nothing just about their situation. I was angry – with God, with man, with myself.
Good people. Bad things.
Did God understand that it wasn’t fair? And if he did, why wasn’t he doing anything about it?
I can recall countless times while growing up when my whining and complaining would be met with my mother’s response “life’s just not fair Sarah”. And she was right. Unsurprisingly. Life isn’t fair. In fact it’s profoundly unfair, but perhaps we ought to be a little more grateful that we don’t actually get what we deserve in life.
A little more than two years ago, on another Easter weekend – the first one to be precise – an innocent man was murdered for my sake. He was mocked, flogged, humiliated and betrayed. For me. And you. Hardly seems fair.
Why was he killed? Because the Roman’s wanted rid of him and were afraid of an uprising? Yes, but I suppose a little more than that was going on: We live in an unjust world, but we have a just God. Since the day I was born, even with all of the best intentions, I’ve stilled managed to make a mess of things. No matter how hard I try I still do things I know I shouldn’t, think things I don’t want to and say things that I regret. I’m less than perfect. My salvation is grace, because the penalty for sin is death, but God didn’t want me to pay. Bad people. Good things.
If I’m honest, looking at the injustice of the cross doesn’t actually take away the pain of the injustice I see today. But on that sunny Saturday afternoon in Zimbabwe, between Good Friday and Easter Sunday, there was a picture of hope, a rainbow of promise across the road, and a reminder to keep pressing on because Sunday is coming.