When Life Isn't Fair

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Sometimes life isn't fair, but we expect it to be...why else would we be
so angry and hurt when it isn't. We wonder:

  • If God is a God of love, why is there so much suffering in the world?

  • Why do the wicked seem to prosper?

  • Why do terrible things seem to happen to nice people?

  • Why does life have to hurt so much?

  • Isn't there an easier way to grow?

  • Can any meaning be found in suffering?

G I F T    E D I T I O N

144 pages


It is perhaps the most-asked question in any time period: "Why does God allow suffering?"

Certainly, every human experiences pain and rejection. If the difficulty is long-term, one can almost be driven mad with grief or anger. We want to know why. Physical and emotional problems are so draining, we become obsessed with "fairness." How do we reconcile our concept of a powerful, loving God with the reality of a child's death? Or greed? Divorce?

Often, we don't. That is exactly where Joel Freeman finds many of the people he counsels. Rather than giving pat answers, he relies on spiritual tools to deal with pain. It's a method that has worked remarkably well, and one that can indeed help you or a loved one through a personal valley.

Using a unique blend of humor, personal vulnerability, compassion and tough- minded insights, Joel Freeman tackles the basic questions that most people ask when life has handed them a raw deal.

You will also understand how you have already passed the invisible, spiritual test being waged this very moment for the attention of your heart. When you read this book you'll embarked upon a remarkable, life-changing journey. By the way, Joel is the president of The Freeman Institute™ and has written four other books. Plus he facilitates a seminar program entitled: "Coming To Terms With Life's Raw Deals."

By the way, Dr Freeman's books are currently in 28 foreign translation editions. Check out the open letter inviting you to participate in more of these foreign translation projects.

-- or continue reading --


Foreword  by  Paul Meier, MD


1.        Why?
2.     Cosmic Killjoy
3.     Sympathy for the Devil
4.     Adjust to the Justice of God
5.     Anger and Flexibility
6.     Don’t Lose Your Spit and Vinegar
Mental Judo
8.     The Ultimate Psychologist
9.     Hey, God’s Got Rights, Too!
10.   How to Balance Your Fuss Budget
11.   Mercy Rewrote a Life
12.   Wow! It’s Real!
13.  Scandalized!
14.  Sirens and Smoke
15.  Skyscraper Theology
16.  Grief in Many Languages
17.  God Can, but Sometimes Won’t 


Hardcover -- 144 PAGES

Many books similar to When Life Isn't Fair have been written recently, but Freeman's work is a specially noteworthy…Rather than easy, pat answers, Freeman offers solid biblical responses. At each chapter’s end he asks pointed questions that help readers come to grips with their feelings and reflect on the truth of God's word. In easy-to-understand terms, this compact book explains a profound theological mystery. After finishing this book readers will have the courage to face life's seemingly unfair circumstances and to have faith in God’s absolute wisdom and justice.    Bookstore Journal
When I became paralyzed in a diving accident, I felt that God owed me explanations. My questions were not unlike those of most people who suffer. With wit and disarming style, Joel Freeman helps us find at least some of those answers.
Joni Eareckson Tada, Author and Speaker

It is helpful volume, Freeman combines compassion and tough minded insights in his discussion of the age-old question about evil and suffering. An honest reading of the book will dry some people’s tears, and start some others!
Robert Cook, Past Pres., National Religious Broadcasting

Joel Freeman's acceptance and care speaks to the heart of many who search for meaning and purpose. In touch with human suffering and pain, his personal faith is witness to God's mercy and love. Freeman's moving message in the book When Life Isn't Fair is one of profound hope.
Barry Estadt, Ph.D., Chm., Loyola College
Why doesn't God abide by my personal standards of what's fair and what isn't? I discovered a most satisfying answer through the stories, humor, and good thinking of Joel Freeman.
David R. Mains, Chapel of the Air
When Life Isn't Fair is one of the best, commentaries to date on the heartaches, trials, and tribulations people experience during life's journey. I saw this book as a means of producing blessing, peace, and assurance to every intellectual level and age group.
Jack Van Impe, Author and Speaker

CLICK HERE to order this book (or continue reading)


  Chapter I

All horrors have followed the same course, getting worse and forcing you into a kind of bottleneck till, at the very moment when you thought you must be crushed, behold! You were out of the narrows and all was suddenly well. The extraction hurt more and more and then the tooth was out. The dream became a nightmare and then you awoke. You die and die and then you are beyond death.                                                                                                                                — C.S. Lewis


Why are there fleas? Have you ever asked that question? No? (Obviously you’ve never owned a cat or dog.) Well, just think about it. What purpose do they serve? Granted, their existence creates the jobs necessary in the conception, testing, manufacturing, and marketing of anti-flea shampoos and sprays. But why are they here on this planet? They are dirty and nasty and they reproduce at an incredible rate. Why did God deliberately create such seem­ingly unnecessary pests? Why do they exist? Is there an answer?

In the same breath we could ask: Why is there pain? You know, gut-wrenching grief and sorrow? Does it have any meaning? Let’s face it; life presents many challenges to all of us.

Some people piously portray emotional pain as a brilliant blessing in disguise that really is our best friend. Somehow pain is supposed to be a useful tool, teaching us valuable lessons.

That philosophy seems rather hollow and empty, how­ever, when talking with people who are in the throes of pain or who have endured hardship. What about the couple who loses their long-awaited newborn child three days after birth, or the woman who has discovered the ugly realities about her lingering, crippling disease, or the man with two kids who has lost his wife in the terrorist attacks of September 11th, 2001? What should we say when they ask, “Why is this happening to me?” Or how do we respond when they plead, “Please help me — How do a cope?”

A child is conceived in ecstasy, but birthed with much pain. The sharpest, hottest tears of a parent, however, are not caused by physical pain. They are the result of a sorrow that is more deeply rooted in the human soul than the body — the pain of a broken heart. And that is the way it is with life. Ideas and dreams are conceived with great enthusiasm, but the implementation of those concepts invites suffering and pain.

Some people are bombarded with heartache and trag­edy, while others appear to navigate through life hardly touched by difficulty. Yet everyone endures emotional pain. Suffering is a universal language.

I know that language. Like many, I have felt my own emotional pain while crying out, “I never want to hurt this bad again.” I have been through some tough stuff – some of it far too personal to include in a book.

On Friday November 16th, 2001 Shirley and I were awakened at 2 AM by the shrill ringing of the telephone. Nighttime phone calls usually mean trouble. And what we heard verified our suspicions. It was horrifying. Our 33-year-old nephew, Michael, had tragically careened off the road and was dead. We both were numb as we made our way in the chilly darkness across the street to the beautiful home he had built for his wife (30) and two children (ages 2 and 4). His wife was sobbing. As the morning progressed, whenever another family member arrived, a new wave of grief filled the living room. The next week was a blur. Visiting the accident site with his father and brother. The funeral. Weeping. Laughing at the memory of Michael’s legendary youthful escapades. And then weeping some more.

As time has passed, I have become more aware of the excruciating physical pain Michael experienced for many years, the result of an inherited illness -- ankylosing spondylitis, a severe type of rheumatoid arthritis. Eventually it would have fused his spine together, so that he would not be able to bend over.

Later his wife, Joy, showed me a letter that he had written to her about two years prior. Michael dealt with the mountains and valleys just like us all, but he never complained about his pain in my presence. That was the way he lived his life. The depth of his mental and physical agony is somewhat revealed in the following vignettes:


“Up until recently I have been able to paint on a smile and pretend that everything was fine. Over the past month or so, my façade has begun to crack…I apologize for the times of venting, withdrawal and attitudes of gloom…I hope that by reading this [letter] you will better understand what is really going on in my mind…My worst struggles are when the symptoms change. As I find myself not being able to do the things I could do before, I get upset. My other concern is dignity. The thought of asking for help with things I could always do before is tough. There is also my pride. People know something is wrong with me but when they see me I look normal. If somebody has a cast on their foot, everybody understands and sympathizes. But when people say sympathizing things to me, I feel kinda stupid or embarrassed. There is no proof. People might think I’m just a big whiner. Very few people truly understand what is wrong with me. Most people think I just have a bad back, but so does 2/3 of the USA…My worst fear is wondering if I can be a good dad. The last few weeks I felt too bad to play with the kids. I didn’t even want to be there. I just wanted to be left alone. ‘Leave me alone, I don’t feel good’. Does that sound like a good father? Justifiable or not, it’s not the way things should be. I’m getting desperate…our minds are more fragile than we think. There are many well-documented cases of criminal suspects confessing to crimes they never committed after hours of relentless and suggestive police questioning. People reach a point of desperation where they are willing to do anything to stop the inundation of negative input to the brain…this unpredictable random cycle of knee, back, and hip pain, stomach cramps, stiffness and fatigue is driving me crazy. Every week is something new…”


        I had never before realized the full extent of how remarkable a man Michael had been to his family, friends and associates. The perseverance and poise he displayed was in spite of the continual “private hell” he experienced in his knees, back and hips. The shooting pain tested the outer limits of his endurance.

         By the way, what is your “private hell”? It may be something physical, mental, emotional, financial, relational or spiritual – or a combination of all. For decades I have worked with many people of privilege, including professional athletes, highly-successful businessmen and folks in the music/entertainment industries. I have also worked with many people who experience the dregs of humanity on a daily basis, at street-level. And many who experience life in between. Regardless of one’s station in life, there is a drama of pain behind every pair of eyes.

         Over the years, I have become more understanding of and patient with people who, like Michael, are overwhelmed by the pain, some even railing out against God in the midst of personal trauma. You see, I too have asked similar questions and made similar statements when placed in the crucible of “unfair” circumstances. When in those situa­tions, I have been amazed by the depths of rage I have been capable of experiencing.

The Holocaust in Nazi Germany is a constant reminder of what lurks beneath the surface of people, even those immersed in education, science and religion. What disturbs us the most, though, for the most part is that the perpetrators looked so normal. Emotional pain forces all of us to confront that unpleasant stuff that lies just under the thin veneer of professionalism. Is that the primary task of pain? Maybe. Maybe not.

In the future chapters I will relate a limited picture of my own struggles and will share time-tested principles that have sustained me before, during, and after “unfair” events that have left my emotional system raw and bleeding — in a state of shock.

The “why” of suffering is the most potent assassin that haunts, taunts, and seeks to destroy the strong and the weak alike. Questions hit us all -- those who are currently in the midst of suffering, those who are trying to assist in some way, and those who are in the people-helping profession, feeling empty and exhausted, needing to be recharged.

This book is not filled with glib answers, which serve to drive honest strugglers into deeper disillusionment. In fact, I am rather suspect of those who seem to have all the answers wrapped up in a neat, tidy package: Ten Principles for Happy Sufferers. Instead I want to hand you some tools. It will take longer, cost more and be messier that previously anticipated. But well worth the upward, the inward and the outward journey. I also want you to know that we are in this together. I am learning and growing right along with you.

Before you have finished reading, you will have discovered ways to improve your course in life by making your attitude behave. You will also understand how you have already won the invisible, spiritual battle being waged this very moment for the attention of your heart.

But first, you are about to meet an unusual group of people in a rather unique drama. A place has been reserved for you.


  1. Have you ever gone through a painful, hurtful experience that caused you to question the "fairness" of God? Think back on the specifics of the situation and try to remember what your innermost feelings were at the time.
  2. Your past, present, and future "unfair" experiences are prime candidates for God’s  healing. As you read When Life Isn't Fair, ask Him to help you apply the principles you will be learning.


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       By the way, Dr Freeman's books are currently in 28 foreign translation editions. Check out the open letter inviting you to participate in more of these foreign translation projects.



"Dealing  With  People  Who  Drive  You  Crazy!"®
The Freeman Institute™ Box 305, Gambrills, Maryland 21054
TEL 410-729-4011   CELL 410-991-9718   FAX 410-729-0353
EMAIL info@freemaninstitute.com



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