Monday, April 07, 2008

Life is Unfair, Just Ask Rodrick Stewart

For college basketball fans tonight is the Division 1 Championship Game between my hometown Memphis Tigers and the storied basketball program of the Kansas Jayhawks. The last time and only time that Memphis was in the national championship game was 1973 against the Bill Walton led UCLA Bruins. I actually got to attend that game. Even though Memphis lost it is a great memory.

Kids that love the game dream of playing in the Championship Game. Tonight one kid’s dream has literally been shattered. Reserve guard, Rodrick Stewart (pictured) will not be available to play because he fractured his kneecap Friday at the end of practice. Apparently he slipped on a wet spot on the floor just as he was jumping up to dunk the basketball. You can see a video clip here.

Rodrick and his twin brother Lodrick, were high school stars at Rainier Beach High School in Seattle. They both signed with the University of Southern California and embarked on their college careers together. The SC program went through some turmoil and Rodrick decided to transfer to Kansas. Now a senior this was his last shot at fulfilling the childhood dream. Now he will sit on the sideline and watch his teammates.

Of course it is just a game and Stewart will adjust and get over it some day. But I’m reminded how many people just in my small world have experienced how unfair life can be. Abuse, abandonment, betrayal, crime, and deceit are just the beginning of the alphabet. We could go all the way to “z” and name unfair experiences.

Unfairness often raises questions like, “Why me?” or “Why did this happen?” Many, even most of those questions will never be answered in this life. Perhaps the better question is “What now?”

One of my heroes is the ancient apostle of Christ, Paul. A rising star in theology and ecclesiology, Paul instead became a follower of Jesus and not only started churches all over the known world in his day but literally wrote over half of what became the New Testament.

But with all of the powerful and even eternal things that Paul accomplished, he endured much of life’s unfairness. On five separate occasions he received a flogging with 39 lashes of a whip. On three occasions he was beaten with rods. Once he was stoned until those hurling the rocks thought he was dead and quit. Three times he was shipwrecked on the open seas and nearly drowned. On multiple occasions he was threatened by robbers, by religious fanatics, and from anti-religion fanatics. Many times he went hungry and homeless. (see 2 Corinthians 11:23-29)

Paul was convinced that God used all of the unfairness he experienced in order to accomplish good. I have come to believe the same thing.

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