Bad luck? Good luck? Only time will tell’

Here is some good advice that Paul sent to some very new Christians:

‘Always be joyful. Keep on praying. No matter what happens, always be thankful, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.’  (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 New Living Translation)

In China they used to tell a story about a poor farmer who owned just one horse – an ancient nag he used for working his fields. When one day the horse escaped into the hills, on being told, his neighbours would shake their heads and sympathise with him. ‘What bad luck, such awful luck,’ they would mutter sadly. To this the old man always replied: ‘Bad luck? Good luck? Who knows? It could be a blessing in disguise. Only time will tell.’

Just one week later the horse returned with a herd of wild horses from the hills. When the news spread, his neighbours now hurried over to congratulate the farmer on his good luck. To each of them he would answer with a grin from ear to ear: ‘Good luck? Bad luck? Who knows? It might be a hidden disaster. Only time will tell.’

Then, when the farmer’s son was trying to tame one of those wild horses, he was thrown off its back and broke his leg. Everyone thought this was really rotten luck – but the farmer would still reply: ‘Bad luck? Good luck? Who really knows? This could be another blessing just dressed up in rags. Only time will tell.’

Soon enough, they all felt that they had at last found the answer when the mandarin’s army marched into their village and press-ganged every able-bodied young man and took them all off to the war – leaving behind the lad with the limp.

Bad luck? Good luck? God knows. Your present disaster may just be an ugly bulb to be planted in the good soil of thankfulness that will later bloom as a blessing – a blooming beautiful blessing! And worrying and whingeing won’t help it grow – not one little bit.

Let’s live by Paul’s godly counsel:

Paul liked to think of himself and other servants of Christ as farmers (see 1 Corinthians 3:5-9). And his philosophy of life was the same as that poor Chinese farmer: ‘do not pronounce judgement before the time’ (1 Corinthians 4:5). Strictly speaking, there he is referring to judging other people’s motives, but the principle also applies to assessing current circumstances.

The writer of the letter to the Hebrews emphasises our need to adopt this attitude to difficulties we are experiencing:

‘For the moment all discipline seems painful rather then pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruits of righteousness to those who have been trained by it’ (Hebrews 12:11). 

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