How we perceive things can have a dramatic effect on our whole outlook of life. In modern society, we are brought up to believe that this is good or that is bad. It’s good to exercise, it’s bad to sit on your backside all day watching television.
While this may or may not be true, depending on your viewpoint, when we take this to a deeper level it can be problematic. If you're continually thinking that when this happens, it is good, but when that happens, it is bad, you're always trying to avoid the bad and embrace the good. This adds to stress, and modern living alreday provides us with enough of that to be going on with.
The truth is bad stuff happens to good people. There is no avoiding that fact. But what constitutes good and what makes something bad?
Indeed, if you crash your car on your way to work in the morning, it is bad. But if the person you crash into gets out of their car and the two of you instantly fall in love, get married and live happily ever after, it is good.
To quote an old Sunday School verse I heard many years ago, ‘God works in mysterious ways.’
A few years ago, I was going through a particularly rough patch. A lot of ‘bad stuff' was happening, which made my life seem unbearable.
I sat down with an old man I had only met once or twice before, who became one of my closest friends, and he shared a story with me that helped me immensely.
It’s an ancient Chinese proverb, and it goes something like this.
Once there was an old Fisherman. He had a son, who the old man relied upon to mend his nets and take his catch to market.
One day the son was out in the countryside when he found a beautiful white horse. The son brought the horse to his father and said, “Look, father, what I have found. This white horse will help us take the fish to market.”
All the people in the Village came to the old fisherman and congratulated him on his good fortune.
To their amazement, the old fisherman replied, “Who knows what’s good, or what’s bad?”
A few days later the son was out riding the horse when he fell from his steed and broke his leg.
This time all the people in the village came to the old fisherman to commiserate with him about his misfortune.
Again, to the astonishment of the people, the old fisherman said, “Who knows what’s good, or what’s bad?”
A week passed, and the King's men came to the village to conscript all the Young Men into the army. There was a great war, and the King needed all the young men he could find to stop the country being invaded by the enemy.
The King’s men came to the old fisherman’s house, but when they saw the son with his broken leg, they said, "This man is no use to the King, ride on." So they left the old fisherman and his son in peace.
Six months passed and word reached the village that although the King had won the war, all the young men conscripted from the village had been killed.
So the moral of the story? Who knows what’s good, or what’s bad?
Never take things on face value. What you think is terrible now, might turn out to be the best thing that ever happened.
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