January 17                                         Day 17

How Then Shall We Live?

Devotions on Living a Deeper Christian Life

“If you learn to extract the precious from the worthless, you shall be as my mouth.” Jer: 15:19

This Could Be Good, or This Could Be Bad 

Photo Credit:  www.aljazeera.com Archaeologists uncover ancient relics from China’s

There is an ancient Eastern story about two men. One a jealous man, and the other, a wise man. Their houses faced each other. The jealous man coveted the prized black stallion of his neighbor. One day when the jealous man was looking out his window, the prized black stallion jumped his neighbor’s fence and ran off.

Immediately, the jealous man ran over to the wise man and told him what had happened. The wise man simply said, “This could be good, or this could be bad.”

A few days later, again looking out his window, the jealous man was amazed to see the prized black stallion returning home with thirty more stallions following him. Amazed, the jealous man ran over to the wise man and said, “Fortune has shown on you this very day, for your prized stallion has returned with thirty more stallions!”

The wise man simply said, “This could be good, or this could be bad.”

The next day, the number one son of the wise man was trying to tame one of the stallions, when he fell and broke his leg in three places. Again, the jealous man ran across to the wise man and said, “Misfortune has shown on you this very day, for your number one son has broken his leg trying to tame one of your new stallions.”

The wise man, again, with no change in expression, simply said, “This could be good, or this could be bad.”

A few days later, war broke out throughout the Province. The first son of every family was required to go to war. The son of the wise man could not go because of his broken leg. The son of the jealous man was sent. A few days later, the jealous man received word that his son was killed in battle. Sadly, he went back to the wise man and said, “Misfortune has shown on ME this very day. For my son has been killed in battle.”

Again, without a change in expression, the wise old man looked at him and simply said, “This could be good or this could be bad.”

This Eastern parable implies that the jealous man’s son may have grown up and become an unjust ruler, or perhaps just like his father, a jealous and covetous man. This story illustrates that many things are out of our perception for a time or ability to understand when they are happening to us.

There may be things that happen to you today that may turn out to be for the best tomorrow. The Bible tells us to “be anxious for nothing.” (Phil 4:6), but, how many of us can actually live in the peace that this verse provides? It seems to be a struggle for most of us.

Why does God tell us to be anxious for NOTHING? The statement itself answers the question, for it implies that SOMEONE is in control (and it is not us)! God has a plan for everything that passes through the life of His children. Nothing has caught Him off guard. He has a plan for even the most difficult loss. He is a Father that gives “Beauty for ashes” (Isa 61:3). He will not leave you in your time of despair. Sometimes we might perceive things to be of our darkest hour, but dawn is just a few hours away.

Let us remember the lesson from the simple faith of the wise old man in this story, when he answers every event with the profession, “This could be good, or this could be bad.” For we have no true understanding of the good that God has planned for His children. He is working out Eternal things in your struggles and sufferings.

 


Words to Think About…

<>—EXTRACTING THE PRECIOUS FROM THE WORTHLESS—<>

God once told a very young Jeremiah, “If you learn to extract the precious from the worthless, you shall be as my mouth.” (cf. Jer.15:19). This skill of discernment means three things;

1) Knowing the difference in what’s of value and what is junk.
2) Knowing when to leave the worthless alone.
3) The skill of selecting the valuable.

Since you cannot do good to all, you are to pay special regard to those who, by the accidents of time, or place, or circumstances, are brought into closer connection with you.” – Saint Augustine of Hippo