The world has no responsibility to treat you fairly.

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Men’s rights activists (MRAs) will often talk about how men should just check out of society, get a shed in the woods, far from civilisation, and live alone with their dog, their computer, and sometimes the more degenerate advocate making sure to have access to a local brothel. The reason they advocate for this is that they note how unfair this modern world can be towards a man.

How many instances do you see of a good man, a true and genuine Delta, who has been working hard, looking after his family financially, faithfully staying loyal to his wife, providing for his kids – only to come home and find that his wife has left him for Steve or Aaron from accounting, or from the office across the road from where she has lunch everyday?

MRAs will harp on, accurately, about how unfair this is, and how unfair our modern world often is to men. But the truth is men that the unfair nature of this world has always been the norm. Often in history men did not get the rewards they deserved for the service they rendered. Often in history men have been unfairly treated.

If your hope is in the rewards of this world your chances of having that hope crushed are almost guaranteed, at least in some way. This world can be cruel to men. Here is a stark reminder of just how cruel, from the final years of the Byzantine Emperor Justinian’s life, towards his greatest and most loyal general,

The gloom of Justinian’s later years was even more marked after the death of his wife; Theodora died in a.d. 548, six years after the great plague, and it may be that her loss was no less a cause of the diminished energy of his later years than was his enfeebled health. Her bold and adventurous spirit must have buoyed him up in many of the more difficult enterprises of the first half of his reign. After her death, Justinian seems to have trusted no one: his destined successor, Justinus, son of his sister, was kept in the background, and no great minister seems to have possessed his confidence. Even Belisarius, the first and most loyal soldier of the empire, does not appear to have been trusted: in the second Gothic war the Emperor stinted him of troops and hampered him with colleagues. At last he was recalled [a.d. 549] and sent into private life, from which he was only recalled on the occurrence of a sudden military crisis in a.d. 558.

 

This crisis was a striking example of the mismanagement of Justinian’s later years. A nomad horde from the South Russian steppes, the Cotrigur Huns, had crossed the frozen Danube at mid-winter, when hostilities were least expected, and thrown themselves on the Thracian provinces. The empire had 150,000 men under arms at the moment, but they were all dispersed abroad, many in Italy, others in Africa, others in Spain, others in Colchis, some in the Thebaid, and a few on the Mesopotamian frontier. There was such a dearth of men to defend the home provinces that the barbarians rode unhindered over the whole country side from the Danube to the Propontis plundering and burning. One body, only 7,000 strong, came up to within a few miles of the city gates, and inspired such fear that the Constantinopolitans began to send their money and church-plate over to Asia.

 

Justinian then summoned Belisarius from his retirement, and placed him in command of what troops there were available—a single regiment of 300 veterans from Italy, and the “Scholarian guards,” a body of local troops 3,500 strong, raised in the city and entrusted with the charge of its gates, which inspired little confidence as its members were allowed to practice their trades and avocations and only called out in rotation for occasional service. With this undisciplined force, which had never seen war, at his back, Belisarius contrived to beat off the Huns. He led them to pursue him back to a carefully prepared position, where the only point that could be attacked was covered with woods and hedges on either side.

 

The untrustworthy “Scholarians” were placed on the flanks, where they could not be seriously molested, while the 300 Italian veterans covered the one vulnerable point. The Huns attacked, were shot down from the woods and beaten off in front, and fled leaving 400 men on the field, while the Romans only lost a few wounded and not a single soldier slain. Thus the last military exploit of Belisarius preserved the suburbs of the imperial city itself from molestation; after defending Old Rome in his prime, he saved New Rome in his old age.

 

Even this last service did not prevent Justinian from viewing his great servant with suspicion. Four years later an obscure conspiracy against his life was discovered, and one of the conspirators named Belisarius as being privy to the plot. The old emperor affected to believe the accusation, sequestrated the general’s property, and kept him under surveillance for eight months. Belisarius was then acquitted and restored to favour: he lived two years longer, and died in March, 565. The ungrateful master whom he had served so well followed him to the grave nine months later. [1]

The Unlucky Country - Zimmermann & Moens

Belisarius had won the Roman Empire many victories, including restoring back to Rome the provinces of Italy, taking them from the Goths. He had served his master well, right up until his later years. He had also rejected an opportunity to claim the title of Emperor of the Western Roman Empire, something which he probably would have excelled at. He was a true servant of his lord and master, and he was treated disrespectfully and disdainfully, nearly losing his life from a false accusation.

Is this fair? Of course not. But only fools think this world is a fair place. Didn’t your mumma tell you, “Life isn’t fair”?

This is why the Christian hope in a restoration and vindication in the next life is so vital to remaining hopeful and joyful in this world. This world has a habit of ripping everything from a man, and treating him with disdain and disrespect. This is not just true of the modern world, it has been this way since the first man and woman rejected the Lord God in the Garden of Eden. But there will be a restoration for those who trust in Christ.

We are not promised all the recognition we deserve in this life, but we are promised it in the next if we trust in him. As Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 4:5:

Therefore do not pronounce judgment before the time, before the Lord comes, who will bring to light the things now hidden in darkness and will disclose the purposes of the heart. Then each one will receive his commendation from God.

This is something which builds hope in the believer.

Those who trust in this world, or have their eyes set on this world, will find many disappointments. You may lose a job you have done well in for 20 years. Your wife may leave you. Your friends might abandon you. So many things can happen to you. But so has it ever been. It is the duty and responsibility of the man to overcome this and not let the cruelty of this world turn our own souls cruel and hopeless. It is our responsibility, really our gift, to overcome this world. And if you have this mindset, you will find that the challenges this world sends at you will look very different.

Unfair things will still happen, but you will remain steadfast when others would falter. So don’t lose hope, and don’t look at the troubles of this world out of the context of the reality of human life in a fallen world. Life has never been fair, but eternity will be. Well, in a sense. If it was truly fair we would not get the chance to go there. Only by the grace of God do we get to enjoy the next life, so continue to look to Him.

References

[1] Oman, Charles. The History of the Byzantine Empire: From Its Glory to Its Downfall (pp. 60-61). e-artnow. Kindle Edition.

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Matthew Littlefield writes to think through some of the current issues facing society, the Church and whatever else comes to mind that might be interesting to process. Matt's focus is usually historical or scriptural, though he will address current issues from time to time as well. He is a co-author of The Ezekiel Declaration and the book, Defending Conscience, How Baptists reminded the Church to defy tyranny. He blogs most days at YoungGospelMinister.blogspot.com.

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