Life is Unfair, But You Knew That


life-is-unfair1Why is there suffering? And why is life so unfair? Why do some have bigger burdens than others? Why do so many people live in poor war-torn countries?

One possibility is that the abused deserve their abuse—that perhaps they were an abuser in a previous life.  This kind of thinking, even if true, can enable abusers—“You totally deserve my abuse, who am I not to fulfill God’s will?”  This is the dark side of Hindusim–“we have a caste system because God wills it–we brahmins are on top because of our exceeding righteousness in the past life and you losers are living in squalor because you weren’t as righteous in the last life.”  Even modern prophets seers and/or revelators can fall victim to this kind of thinking:

“This privilege of obtaining a mortal body on this earth is seemingly so priceless that those in the spirit world, even though unfaithful or not valient, were undoubtedly permitted to take mortal bodies although under penalty of racial or physical or nationalistic limitations….”  Harold B. Lee

On the other hand, was Jesus abused because He was an abuser?  What about Abinadi, Paul, Peter, and Joseph?

There is another possible explanation why people endure horrible things in life:  Before the earth is created, God says, “I have to respect free will, and some jerk is going to be an abuser.  Who will volunteer to take this douche’s abuse?  Who will volunteer to starve in Africa? Under the volunteerism explanation, it really flips around the question of who the elect really is, and all of us might be found wanting.

[Never mind, we’re totally the elect, not those other guys who are suffering.]

Either explanation is possible, maybe some are abused as punishment and others volunteered for abuse.   We can’t judge.

I suggest a third possibility: some of the abused neither deserved it nor volunteered for it.  Life isn’t fair, and that might be part of the test–can we love and accept a God who set up a rigged game?

Look at the 9th parable in 10 parables. My interpretation of it is, basically, those that followed Lucifer in the premortal life are invited back into the kingdom. Many who were righteous were upset by this and walked out on God. The test is not what we think it is.


From the 9th_Parable:

After the days of the competition ended, a great feast was called. For the feast, the King invited not only those citizens who participated in the games, but also those who had fled the city rather than participate. Those who had remained loyal and participated in the games were troubled by this.

“Why are those who rejected your plan allowed to be among us?” they inquired.

“For a wise purpose,” said the King.

Many of those who participated resented the presence of those who had fled. Some who fled returned in anger, urging those who stayed to join them in their anger at the King. Some who did not do well were persuaded by the arguments of the returning dissidents.

The great feast turned into a great argument among the residents who stayed and those who had fled. Eventually the people divided themselves into two groups. In one, the King was beloved and his plan was held in esteem. In the other, the King was resented, or worse, hated. They found fault with the King, with his plan, and with the uproar caused among the citizens by the King’s great folly.

When the body was divided, the King addressed them all with these words, “I have been working for some time to determine who I can trust among our people and who I cannot trust. Using wise counsel I have adopted this great plan to decide the matter.

“I knew when the competition was devised it would divide the people. I knew, too, that some would flee rather than participate. I also knew if I invited back to a feast all of the citizens, both those who stayed and those who fled, that it would result in a great division. This was my purpose all along.

“We are faced with many challenges. Some are in forms which you do not understand. They will test all of us. I must know before we confront the coming challenges who I can trust to remain loyal in my kingdom. Today I know.

The game is rigged. On purpose. And not because God is incompetent. God wants to see who will not be upset if He rewards people unfairly.


11th-hour-workersMatthew 20:1 For the kingdom of heaven is like unto a man that is an householder, which went out early in the morning to hire labourers into his vineyard.

2 And when he had agreed with the labourers for a penny a day, he sent them into his vineyard.

3 And he went out about the third hour, and saw others standing idle in the marketplace,

4 And said unto them; Go ye also into the vineyard, and whatsoever is right I will give you. And they went their way.

5 Again he went out about the sixth and ninth hour, and did likewise.

6 And about the eleventh hour he went out, and found others standing idle, and saith unto them, Why stand ye here all the day idle?

7 They say unto him, Because no man hath hired us. He saith unto them, Go ye also into the vineyard; and whatsoever is right, that shall ye receive.

8 So when even was come, the lord of the vineyard saith unto his steward, Call the labourers, and give them their hire, beginning from the last unto the first.

9 And when they came that were hired about the eleventh hour, they received every man a penny.

10 But when the first came, they supposed that they should have received more; and they likewise received every man a penny.

11 And when they had received it, they murmured against the goodman of the house,

12 Saying, These last have wrought but one hour, and thou hast made them equal unto us, which have borne the burden and heat of the day.

13 But he answered one of them, and said, Friend, I do thee no wrong: didst not thou agree with me for a penny?

14 Take that thine is, and go thy way: I will give unto this last, even as unto thee.

15 Is it not lawful for me to do what I will with mine own? Is thine eye evil, because I am good?

16 So the last shall be first, and the first last: for many be called, but few chosen.


when-life-isnt-fairBut why? Why is the test about enduring unfairness rather than testing who will obey the commandments the most?

When we perceive that we are treated unfairly, we seek compensation to make up for our unfair treatment. We think it will be just if something is taken from the person who has more and given to the person who has less. Well, maybe we only think it is unjust if we are the person who has less. (When we have more, we pat ourselves on the back and assume that we totally earned it.) This motivation is at the heart of those who seek revenge for mistreatments, either real or perceived.

In the eternities, God offers us everything. He wants to share His glory and power with us. But what if that isn’t fair? Why should someone who didn’t do the same awesome righteous works as I did get the same reward? Why should a laborer who showed up at the 11th hour get the same pay as I did for working all day?

And more importantly, what can I do to stop this slacker from getting a reward he doesn’t deserve? Well, God did give me His power, right? So I can use that to make his eternal reward less than mine. Although it might be hard, since he also has God’s power, so if I break any of his stuff he can fix it. But I could probably find ways to make his eternal reward less rewarding. One way (maybe the only way) I could do him harm would be to tempt his children into doing wickedness.

At this point I have become a devil.

This might be why only the best of feelings (charity) can prevail between people if they will enter into a true order of prayer—prayer doesn’t become a true order just because the person praying repeats signs and tokens while wearing symbolic clothing. A true order of prayer means that a person has received the power to ask any blessing they want from God. People will only get this power if they have the best of feelings toward their neighbor (charity). People without the best of feelings might ask God to curse their neighbor as compensation for unfairness.

So life is unfair because God cannot save people who are upset by unfairness, or those who will not forgive their neighbor.


Here’s the 9th parable in it’s entirety:

OlympicCompetitionThere was a King who loved his people. He also loved the competition of games. He called his advisory council together and asked them how he might improve the health and vigor of his people. They considered the matter and decided upon a great plan.

The King called his city together and told them of a great competition he and his council had devised. “All the city would compete,” he announced. They would proceed in turns to go into the coliseum and compete on the field. All were welcome to watch before or after they participated, but all would have to compete. The competition would test the citizen’s loyalty, while also improving the lives of the citizens.

“I haven’t the strength to compete. I am old and past my day and cannot hope to win in competition with younger men,” said one.

The King responded, “Not all the competition will be of strength, some will be of intellect, some of patience, some of music. It will develop the skill of each individual from my kingdom and will improve every citizen.”

“I refuse,” said the one. He and those who agreed with him departed in anger.

The day arrived and the competition began. Men, women and children all entered in turns into the coliseum. Some sang, some threw spears, some lifted heavy weights, and some recited poetic works of beauty and wisdom. The people not competing at any given time would watch from the seats. They gained as much from watching as they did competing.

Many were reluctant or afraid entering the competition, but found when they competed their fears were unfounded. Some believed it would be fun to compete. However, upon entering the competition failed to do as they hoped, and regretted their poor efforts.

After the days of the competition ended, a great feast was called. For the feast, the King invited not only those citizens who participated in the games, but also those who had fled the city rather than participate. Those who had remained loyal and participated in the games were troubled by this.

“Why are those who rejected your plan allowed to be among us?” they inquired.

“For a wise purpose,” said the King.

Many of those who participated resented the presence of those who had fled. Some who fled returned in anger, urging those who stayed to join them in their anger at the King. Some who did not do well were persuaded by the arguments of the returning dissidents.

The great feast turned into a great argument among the residents who stayed and those who had fled. Eventually the people divided themselves into two groups. In one, the King was beloved and his plan was held in esteem. In the other, the King was resented, or worse, hated. They found fault with the King, with his plan, and with the uproar caused among the citizens by the King’s great folly.

When the body was divided, the King addressed them all with these words, “I have been working for some time to determine who I can trust among our people and who I cannot trust. Using wise counsel I have adopted this great plan to decide the matter.

“I knew when the competition was devised it would divide the people. I knew, too, that some would flee rather than participate. I also knew if I invited back to a feast all of the citizens, both those who stayed and those who fled, that it would result in a great division. This was my purpose all along.

“We are faced with many challenges. Some are in forms which you do not understand. They will test all of us. I must know before we confront the coming challenges who I can trust to remain loyal in my kingdom. Today I know.

“All those who have been loyal have been identified. They will remain in my kingdom. All those who have rejected my plan, or spoken against me in hatred, will be removed from my kingdom. Those who leave are free to follow their own course. However, they cannot be among my people any longer, for they have been tested and failed in their loyalty.”

It required a battle to remove those who were to be exiled. Many argued they had endured all the King had asked and only spoken ill of him when the disaffected exiles returned. They claimed it was unfair to have been put through this final test of loyalty after allowing the return of the exiles. They argued a feast that included those who refused the King’s request was unfair. It rewarded all alike; the loyal and the disloyal. They claimed their final disloyalty came only as a result of their original loyalty later proving to be of no value, since even the exiles came to the final feast.

Others complained that the King was mad. His whole course was destructive of a people who had once lived in harmony and peace. They claimed it was the King who should be thrown in exile; not the citizens who were discomforted by the King disturbing their peace.

Still others complained the King was never honest with them. Had they known this was to be the result, they would have been loyal throughout. They thought it unfair he kept his counsel to himself and thereby lulled them into disfavor.

Yet others complained the King gave them too hard a test. It was unfair. Although they had passed the test, they had family members and friends who failed and if these whom they loved had failed they would refuse for their loved ones’ sake to remain with the King.

Some even said that the original test was supposed to improve the citizen’s “health and vigor” and not their loyalty. It was unfair to claim to test for one virtue when actually testing for another.

And finally, some claimed there could be no future test coming for which this test of the citizens would prepare; that the only thing this great plan tested was the patience of the citizens. If there is some great future test coming, then the King ought, in fairness, to share that information with them rather than to hide it and make claims which cannot be proven.

lingdom-of-peaceAll the arguments were unavailing. The King expelled them all. When the kingdom was set, and none but the loyal remained, the King again called a great assembly of his people. To all those who remained the King announced, “I discovered long ago the power to make my kingdom last forever. I am now prepared to share the secrets of all I know with my people. From this day forward you will no longer be citizens in my kingdom, but you will be kings and queens, sharing with me in life which will never end.

“Before making you all kings and queens with me, I needed to have a people who would live in peace together.

Immortality without peace among us would be a great punishment and not a great prize.

“All of us who remain in this kingdom have lost friends, family members and others whom we love. However, all who remain will be able to live in peace, forever.”

The King did as he planned from the beginning. He and his counselors were able to find those who could live in peace, and for whom life would endure in peace forever.

There is not now, and never has been, a kingdom more stable, more happy, more at peace, and more enduring than this King’s. Though he ceased to reign as a king, he continued to be loved above all others. For he was the one who brought to life the happiest people of all.

8 Responses

  1. Beautiful post, Lemuel. Thank you for organizing and presenting that information.

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  2. When I was able to buy my first home and my children were very young I thanked God and promised to share it with those He sent for comfort. He kept His word and our Bishop sent a young lady. Long story short she molested my toddler girls and abused my boys. We were forced to leave the community and that beautiful home. When all the emotional dust settled I had to ask myself what I would do if I saw her in Heaven. I thought first what must I do to get there and realized it is the same for everyone so if she and I were to meet there I would embrace her because it must be that everyone must earn it in the eyes of God as no unclean thing will dwell with Him. Life is not fair. It is not supposed to be. Many are called and few are chosen. Don’t worry about others tests, just do the best you can with your own. In that God can bless others through you.

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  3. This is an amazing post and totally made me think about things in a different way. In a way that I never really thought about them before. Thank you for your insight!

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  4. when you refer to the next life—to me the next life is another mortality in this mortality—as Joseph said we go from one probation to another–either improving in our efforts to do as the Father asks or descending and losing that which we could have had had we done that which we were asked to do–and according to a previous mortality we are born again in another mortal life according as to how we functioned in the previous–

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  5. “Why is there suffering?”
    Charity suffereth long… Maybe suffering is the garden in which charity must grow.

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  6. This post is awesome. I have been thinking about this for awhile and this just clarified what I was thinking was true.

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  7. Yep! Life isn’t fair, but God is. He makes up all we’ve lost, if we let him. we must stop comparing. I’m a life coach and have never met anyone with a perfect life. The idea that it’s even possible stands against reason. Just because we don’t see others pain and suffering doesn’t mean it’s not there. Who’s to say we didn’t ask for the hardest trials so we could have the gift that comes with that trial, so we could share that gift with others? The parable is good. Yes, The test is rigged but what fool will leave paradise because someone else got in? What fool believes they are better than another? Only the man or woman who isn’t willing to repent and see their own sins. How sad to think some believe they don’t sin… Therefore they deserve more, lol! That is really the sin of pride, judgment, envy, jealousy, strife. Not being willing to our own sins.

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  8. Still enjoying this post, a few days later even. Thanks so much for sharing these thoughts, and reminding me of the parable. I never would have pulled all this from it.

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