The following I shared in a sermon at Providence Church
and think you might find it noteworthy as did others.
there was an old man who lived in a tiny village. Although poor, he was envied
by all, for he owned a beautiful white horse. Even the king coveted his
treasure. A horse like this had never been seen before—such was its splendor,
its majesty, its strength.
offered fabulous prices for the steed, but the old man always refused. “This
horse is not a horse to me,” he would tell them. “It is a person. How could you
sell a person? He is a friend, not a possession. How could you sell a friend?”
The man was poor and the temptation was great. But he never sold the horse.
morning he found that the horse was not in the stable. All the village came to
fool,” they scoffed, “we told you that someone would steal your horse. We
warned you that you would be robbed. You are so poor. How could you ever hope
to protect such a valuable animal? It would have been better to have sold him.
You could have gotten whatever price you wanted. No amount would have been too
high. Now the horse is gone, and you’ve been cursed with misfortune.”
man responded, “Don’t speak too quickly. Say only that the horse is not in the
stable. That is all we know; the rest is judgment. If I’ve been cursed or not,
how can you know?”
people contested, “Don’t make us out to be fools! We may not be philosophers,
but great philosophy is not needed. The simple fact is that your horse is gone
is a curse.”
man spoke again. “All I know is that the stable is empty, and the horse is
gone. The rest I don’t know. Whether it be a curse or a blessing, I can’t say.
All we can see is a fragment. Who can say what will come next?”
people of the village laughed. They thought that the man was crazy. They had
always thought he was a fool; if he wasn’t, he would have sold the horse and
lived off the money. But instead, he was a poor woodcutter, an old man still
cutting firewood and dragging it out of the forest and selling it. he lived
hand to mouth in the misery of poverty. Now he had proven that he was, indeed,
fifteen days, the horse returned. He hadn’t been stolen; he had run away into
the forest. Not only had he returned, he had brought a dozen wild horses with
him. Once again the village people gathered around the woodcutter and spoke.
“Old man, you were right and we were wrong. What we thought was a curse was a
blessing. Please forgive us.”
responded, “Once again, you go too far. Say only that the horse is back. State
only that a dozen horses returned with him, but don’t judge. How do you know if
this is a blessing or not? You see only a fragment. Unless you know the whole
story, how can you judge? You read only one page of a book. Can you judge the
whole book? You read only one word of a phrase. Can you understand the entire
so vast, yet you judge all of life with one page or one word. All you have is a
fragment! Don’t say that this is a blessing. No one knows. I am content with
what I know. I am not perturbed by what I don’t.”
“Maybe the old man is right,” they said to one
another. So they said little. But down deep, they knew he was wrong. They knew
it was a blessing. Twelve wild horses had returned with one horse. With a
little bit of work, the animals could be broken and trained and sold for much $.
man had a son, an only son. The young man began to break the wild horses. After
a few days, he fell from one of the horses and broke both legs. Once again the
villagers gathered around the old man and cast their judgments.
“You were right,” they said. “You proved you
were right. The dozen horses were not a blessing. They were a curse. Your only
son has broken his legs, and now in your old age you have no one to help you.
Now you are poorer than ever.”
man spoke again. “You people are obsessed with judging. Don’t go so far. Say
only that my son broke his legs. Who knows if it is a blessing or a curse? No
one knows. We only have a fragment. Life comes in fragments.”
happened that a few weeks later the country engaged in war against a
neighboring country. All the young men of the village were required to join the
army. Only the son of the old man was excluded, because he was injured. Once
again the people gathered around the old man, crying and screaming because
their sons had been taken. There was little chance that they would return. The
enemy was strong, and the war would be a losing struggle. They would never see
their sons again.
“You were right, old man,” they wept. “God
knows you were right. This proves it. Your son’s accident was a blessing. His
legs may be broken, but at least he is with you. Our sons are gone forever.”
man spoke again. “It is impossible to talk with you. You always draw
conclusions. No one knows. Say only this: Your sons had to go to war, and mine
did not. No one knows if it is a blessing or a curse. No one is wise enough to
know. Only God knows.”
~Max Lucado, In the
Eye of the Storm (Word Publishing, 1991, pp. 144-147)