“I’ve decided I’m not going to fight it.”
The resignation in my mom’s voice was palpable. I sat with wide, stunned eyes for several long seconds before I responded.
Last year, my father took my mom to court to contest when she would start receiving her portion of his monthly retirement payments. He wanted to delay the timeline that had been determined by the court 12 years ago in their divorce settlement. Instead of fighting him in court, my mom chose to settle.
I knew this meant that she’d lose years of financial support—supplemental income she’ll become increasingly dependent on the older she gets. And it meant giving my dad an unfair win.
As I prodded my mom for reasons, she admitted that this battle was wrought with too much pain to be worth it. She’d rather take a step of faith, and choose to not fight. God had given her peace about it, assuring her that He was her provider—not my father, and not the retirement funds.
As I mull over the unfairness of my parents’ situation, I can identify with the Preacher’s less-than-optimistic observations in chapter 8 of Ecclesiastes, where he laments that the wicked are often the ones who get rewarded, not the righteous (v. 14). And so I find it odd that the Preacher also concludes that, even though this is the case, it will go better with those who fear God (v. 12). Although righteousness might seem to leave us worse off than the wicked, he says it’s still the better choice.
But how can that be?
Watching the aftermath of my parents’ legal battle has given me a fresh perspective on what “better” might look like for those who fear God. In my mom’s case, she’s leaning into God’s provision, hope, and promise, instead of believing money will bring her security. And because of that, things are better with her.
This seemingly simplistic conclusion becomes more convincing when I look at how things are turning out for my father—the one who got exactly what he asked for. He is still consumed with bitterness, and so unsatisfied that he’s busy planning to file another lawsuit to fight for more.
I’m beginning to wonder if maybe having things “righted” circumstantially in this life isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. As much as I might think I know what would be truly fair in this situation . . . God’s idea of what’s best might be different. No court decision in either of my parent’s favor could heal the deep wounds they both carry from 22 difficult years of marriage.
More than seeing justice in the immediate circumstances, it’s my hope that God will work through this unfair, difficult situation for a greater purpose—maybe even to help both of my parents turn more fully to Him for the comfort and resolution they long for so badly.
As we find ourselves waiting on God’s timing, we might end up in situations that seem unfair. During such times, the best thing we can do is to bring our fears and frustrations to God, the One who loves us and works good even through situations that seem unredeemable (Romans 8:28). And that position of humbly trusting God? That’s the best place we can be.
—By Annie Caldwell, USA
Questions for reflection
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