"God Is Not Fair"

Coming To Terms With Life's Raw Deals


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[ timely ]

::::  G E N E R A L   M A R K E T   E D I T I O N  ::::

[ timeless ]

  The Freeman Institute® and The Freeman Institute® Foundation have combined resources to launch the freeman publishing (fp) enterprise. A curiosity-driven multi-media publishing company.

   The first curiosity-driven resource is found in two expanded and updated editions of the same 192 page book, "God Is Not Fair."

   BACKGROUND: This bestselling book was written over 25 years ago, birthed out of an intensely painful period that lasted a few years in the early 1980s -- sponsoring more haunting questions than answers. I (Joel Freeman) "journaled" my way through that dark time, discovering creative concepts, spiritual insights and humor that seemed to connect much later with other people honestly wrestling with similar issues and questions.

   In 2009, both my father (Arthur, 91) and mother (Katherine, 90) died within 33 days of each other in Vancouver. Even though I have been a licensed professional counselor for years, helping many walk through their grief, the "one-two" punch of losing both parents so close together, threw me for a loop.

   I experienced a blue funk for 3-4 months afterwards. The funk snapped one day and I cannot even give you a tidy little A-B-C formula as to how it happened. It was a breakthrough. Later (in early 2011), I engaged in the therapeutic process of updating and expanding this book.

   I am a grateful man. With 21 foreign translation editions (400,000+ copies), this book has been endorsed by Paul Meier, Billy Graham, Joni Eareckson and many others. I have received a lot of mail from readers of this book. Based upon the wide range of responses -- transcending race, ethnicity, generation, gender and culture -- I am hopeful that you will view this book as a resource for people who are asking the same questions addressed by this book.

cover of general market edition
(order online by clicking on image above)

   Dealing with pain, loss and suffering is a messy process. Predictably unpredictable. Smarmy, flowery responses do not work, especially during tough times....generally only serving to drive people into deeper disillusionment. "God Is Not Fair" is a book that will connect with readers right where they are hurting. Here is one reader's response:

  “In the midst of a very terrible time in my life, I stumbled across God Is Not Fair. It blew me away. I have read many, many books on suffering and dealing with life's tragedies. This one is different in that it does not simply regurgitate the standard pat answers to why suffering exists and what to do when it happens ("Trials are actually a blessing! They'll make you a better person! Embrace them!" -- Give me a break.). Joel Freeman avoids preachy, sanctimonious language and never gets condescending. I received practical strategies for dealing with not only suffering and grief but the accompanying feelings of unfairness and "God's absence" that go along with those feelings. My faith in God was strengthened by my having read this book.”      -- Harriet, a satisfied reader

   There two expanded and updated 25th anniversary editions of "God Is Not Fair."

   One edition (subtitled: Coming To Terms With Life's Raw Deals) has been designed for the general marketplace.

   The other special edition (subtitled: Making Sense of Loss and Grief) has been private-labeled by National HME for the hospice community. Review copies handed out to hospice chaplains and grief counselors at The National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization (NHPCO) conference in Washington, DC.

   The audio book, mp3 and ebook editions will soon follow. We already offer an edition for youth and also a hard-cover gift edition of this book. Review German translation. Read the back cover copy below:

So, What Did You Expect?

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?
  • Can any meaning be found in pain, loss and suffering?
  • Why do evil people seem to prosper?
  • Why does life have to hurt so much?
  • 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 pain, loss and suffering?

 "God Is Not Fair" is designed for people who are in any of the "before-during-after" stages of pain:

loss of a loved one, cancer or some other disease, wrestling with the "why's" of tragedy, parents dealing with rebellious children, physically and/or emotionally paralyzed, struggling with conversations/events/decisions that have negatively impacted relationships, prison sentence, periodic depressive state, fear of death, discouragement, strained relationships within a family system, dealing with life-controlling thoughts or temptations, approval addiction issues, bitterness, shame, dealing with narcissists or those with a heightened sense of personal entitlement, and more...

"God Is Not Fair" is of special interest to:

 therapists, prison chaplains, clergy, military chaplains, psychologists, pastoral counselors, parents of teenagers, guidance counselors, hospital/hospice chaplains, bereavement counselors, spiritual advisors, mentors, social workers, and anyone else in the people-helping profession -- looking for resources to help people walk through grief and loss.

   Written in a highly readable and thought-provoking style, Joel Freeman encourages readers to seek a greater understanding of their feelings of loss and grief through personal reflection. He also prompts discussion about their expectations of themselves, God and others.

   This book is not filled with glib answers, which serve to drive honest strugglers into deeper disillusionment. Drawing on his years of experience in counseling people through their grief and suffering, Dr. Freeman provides a framework upon which can be found true, lasting peace and security.

   Endorsed by Joni Eareckson Tada, Billy Graham, Paul Meier and others, "God Is Not Fair" presents helpful insights, poignant stories and touches of humor in revealing a biblical perspective on these questions. You are about to embark upon a remarkable journey.


cover of special hospice edition

  1. I Never Want to Hurt This Bad Again
  2. Cosmic Killjoy
  3. Sympathy for the Devil
  4. Adjust to the Justice of God
  5. Don’t Lose Your Spit and Vinegar
  6. Mental Judo
  7. The Great Psychiatrist
  8. Hey, God’s Got Rights, Too!
  9. Wounded Crybabies
  10. How to Balance Your Fuss Budget
  11. Buzzard Bait
  12. Mercy Rewrote a Life
  13. Wow, It’s Real
  14. Scandalized
  15. Sirens and Smoke
  16. Innocence Lost, Purity Gained
  17. Skyscraper Theology
  18. Grief in Many Languages
  19. God Can, But Sometimes Won’t


  1. The Paradoxical Commandments
  2. Words Worth Embroidering
  3. The Conflict Between "Fairness" Vs Justice and Mercy
  4. Suffering: A Biblical Survey
  5. Bible Bullets


Joel A. Freeman, Ph.D. A life motivated by curiosity. Veteran mentor/chaplain for the NBA Washington Bullets/Wizards for 19 years ('79-'98). Loyola University graduate. Accomplished author. Internationally sought-after conference speaker and workshop facilitator. Professional counselor. Success/business coach to executives.  Rosetta Stone history expert. Behavioral analyst. Organizational culture-change specialist. Corporate trainer. Motivational consultant and mentor to pro athletes. Philanthropist. Multiculturally astute. Photographer. Award-winning filmmaker. Magazine publisher. Experiences an on-going love/hate relationship with technology. Passionate about dynamic, fun-filled excellence. Devoted husband and father. Off-key singer and extremely bad dancer.



A Masterpiece on Suffering

   “Many books similar to When Life Isn't Fair have been written recently, but Freeman's work is especially 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

  “I was going through treatment for cancer and if one more person gave me some syrupy sweet, overly illustrated, "overly Job," candy coated, "shut-up-and-put-up-God-can-do-what-He-wants-so-you-have-no-right-to-feel-anger-or-grief-or-confusion" books I was going to go insane. Then I stumbled on this book and it blew me away. It packs a powerful message that helps answer questions, but also helps you learn to deal with life’s problems.”
     -- Emma, a reader

  “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., Chairman (retired)
, Pastoral Counseling,
Loyola University.

  “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. As I dug deeper into this masterpiece on suffering, 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

  “I have just got done reading your book ‘God Is Not Fair.’ I wanted to tell you just how much I enjoyed your book. Of all the ones I’ve read, it has given me the most insight to suffering. The examples and illustrations are excellent and hit home! The questions at the end of the chapters are very helpful to see how I feel. It is one of those books I will read again and again.”
     -- Frank, a reader, Austin, Texas

  “I’ve just finished reading your book, ‘God Is Not Fair,’ and honestly believe it is the best thing that has ever happened to me. I would have traded my entire life for this book 25 years ago.”
     -- A reflective prisoner, Vevay, Indiana



Life is a series of problems: You are in one now, you’re just coming out of one,
or you’re getting ready to go into another one.
– Rick Warren

There’s a scream, “Oh, my God!” Waves of panic engulf the beach. The once-quiet sunbathers point wildly. A lifeguard races toward the pounding surf. Thrashing furi­ously, a pair of hands suddenly reappears out of the deep. The drowning person is in an intense struggle between life and death.

Think with me for a moment. Do you identify with the drowning soul, the trained lifeguard, or the powerless spec­tators? You are in at least one of those categories. Let me help you understand.

Right now, the state of your emotions may be saturated with sorrow and you may be grasping, like a drowning person, for answers to a multitude of “why” questions. Maybe, like the spectators, you are feeling gross inadequa­cies as you try to assist a friend who is hurting. Or possibly, like the lifeguard, you are in the people-helping profession (hospice). You have been through your own deep waters and are feeling used up, needing to be recharged.

·  Have you encountered personal tragedy some time ago and are still searching for
meaning in your pain?

·  Have you ever been hurt by a snake in the grass, and then felt like you had to blab 
it to everyone?

·  Are you angry with God for something you felt He did to you or a loved one?

·  Have you ever had your very own personal pity party? For a day? For a week? For a month? For a decade?

·    Are you in the midst of a crisis, feeling like you’re one hair’s breadth away from

·    Do you struggle with deep roots of bitterness?

·    Do you have a problem receiving and/or giving forgiveness?

·    Have you ever felt like nobody really understands the pain you have experienced?

·  Have you ever stuck out your trembling lower lip and said, “It’s just not fair”?


      If you answered yes to any of these questions, this book is for you. God understands your tolerance level for suffer­ing, and He wants to make you a tough person with a tender heart.

“On, no, not another negative, hell-fire-and-brimstone book!” I hear someone groan. You’re absolutely right: this isn’t one of those.

“But what about the title? I always thought God was fair.” Hold on just a moment....

“Fair” is a fine word, but as you will see, the genuine meaning has been distorted. To help clarify its meaning the word “fair” is set off by quotation marks throughout the book.

          Twenty-five years and twenty-one foreign translations later. That’s where we are with the book you now hold in your hands. This was the passion for greater understanding about suffering that burned within. It emerged out of a very dark time in my life where pious platitudes would not work for me. I had to put what I was learning on paper, even if for nothing more than personal therapeutic value. The response has been heartwarming – from adults and teens, professionals and non-professionals, to the religious and non-religious.

With travels to well over fifty countries around the world, I have realized one main thing: there is a drama of pain behind every pair of eyes. The “why” of suffering is the most potent assassin that haunts, taunts, and seeks to destroy the strong and the weak alike.

This book is not filled with glib answers, which serve only 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. 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.

By the way, if you are looking for “fairness” in your life, you may want to think again. I hope to persuade you that God is not “fair.”

Ponder what you just read for a moment and then move on to the next page...




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 astonishing 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...ORDER HERE



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