Book Review: "It's Not Fair!", by Wayne Mack
" Synopsis: If we are being honest, we will have to admit that every one of us, in a hundred different ways and for a thousand different reasons, has been guilty of murmuring "It's not fair!" when things don't go as we would like them to. So how do we respond when we, or others who come to us for counsel, are in such a state of despair? In his simple, compassionate, and eminently biblical way, Wayne Mack drives home the point that our only pathway to hope, when times are tough, is in apprehending the character of the just and sovereign God as he has revealed himself in the scriptures. "It's Not Fair!" is a gem of a book, that meets people where they are at, but doesn't leave them there; it takes them to the God who changes sinful hearts, and brings healing and praise out of very real and very painful tragedy.
I must admit up front, that whenever I am asked to read a Christian counselingbook, I immediately become apprehensive. I have seen far too much "Christian counseling" that is really just secular poppycock with a thin bible veneer. But I am very pleased to say that this book is not like that. It does not cast the hurting counselee upon himself, and advise him to find hope in keeping a bright outlook, or believing in his own abilities, or nurturing his self-esteem. And it does not (worse yet!) suggest that it's okay to be angry with God, that a person is right to feel upset when unfair things happen. No, Wayne Mack, although with a deep and genuine empathy and an understanding of the stark reality of hurts and sorrows in this fallen world, makes it very clear that God is God, and we are not; but then, in going consistently to the biblical witness, he shows how a right understanding of the character of this God whom we must not in any event murmur against is our only real hope for healing, change, and joy in the midst of any trouble.
From the beginning, Wayne emphasizes that an "It's not fair" attitude is never appropriate, and always springs from a heart of rebellion and pride. Whenever we find ourselves feeling that way, he suggests, it is not our circumstances which need to change, but we ourselves. And that change can only come about by the power of God, as he opens up our hearts to understand who he is as he has revealed himself in the scriptures.
Wayne focuses on four basic attributes of God, a fuller understanding of which will change our perspective and our grumbling hearts: his wisdom, his love, his justice, and his omnipotence/sovereignty. These chapters, which are the real meat of the book, are simple and concise, but packed with the plentiful scriptural testimony of who God is, and what that means for us. I can think of no better remedy for the hurting believer than to read through these truths slowly and deliberately, and to meditate on the nature of the God that they reveal.
Although the heart of the book is the biblical testimony about God, Wayne is also very practical and applicational. The pages bleed with the heart of a seasoned counselor, who has seen every kind of hurt imaginable, and has wept with the weeping. He does not have the sort of rosy optimism that suggests that everything will get better (if, by better, we mean that circumstances will change to what we want them to be); but he does have the deeper and more comforting conviction that all things are ordained by an all-powerful, all-wise, and utterly just and sovereign God, who is actively working everything out for the eternal good of those who trust in him, using the pain of trials and the comfort of overwhelming grace for our greater sanctification and eternal weight of glory. And when the pain is deep and real, that is the only assurance that can really do our hearts any good.
Reviewed by Nathan Pitchford
"It's Not Fair!": Finding Hope When Times Are Tough, by Wayne A. Mack available at Monergism Books