Some days are good ones from beginning to end. Some days, we have moments of “This is good.” During those less than stellar stretches- whether in hours or in days- it might be a tough task to find any goodness in the current situation. What of those times when we balk, just like a sick child swallowing that icky medicine, and we believe that nothing good can come from the latest distasteful experience? This is good? How?
For every day I have awakened with a heavy heart, or watched the sun rise after a sleepless night, the following story would be a great one for me to remember. Maybe it will be useful for you, as well:
This Is Good!
A story is told of a king in Africa who had a close friend with whom he grew up. The friend had a habit of looking at every situation that ever occurred in his life (positive or negative) and remarking, “This is good!”
One day the king and his friend were out on a hunting expedition. The friend would load and prepare the guns for the king. The friend had apparently done something wrong in preparing one of the guns, for after taking the gun from his friend, the king fired it and his thumb was blown off. Examining the situation the friend remarked, “This is good!” To which the king replied, “No, this is
NOT good!” and proceeded to send his friend to jail.
About a year later, the king was hunting in an area that he should have known to stay clear of. Cannibals captured him and took him to their village. They tied his hands, stacked some wood, set up a stake and bound him to it.
As they came near to set fire to the wood, they noticed that the king was missing a thumb. Being superstitious, they never ate anyone that was less than whole. So untying the king, they sent him on his way. As he returned home, he was reminded of the event that had taken his thumb and felt remorse for his treatment of his friend. He went immediately to the jail to have his friend released. “You were right,” he said, “it was good that my thumb was blown off.” And he proceeded to tell the friend all that had just happened. “And so I am very sorry for sending you to jail for so long. It was bad for me to do this.”
“No,” his friend replied, “This is good!”
“What do you mean, ‘This is good’? How could it be good that I sent my friend to jail for a year?”
“If I had NOT been in jail, I would have been with you.”
Good point! Quick mind! Good heart! This man had the blessing of perspective and childlike faith that everything would work out. I suppose that when we come from a “good” place within ourselves, it allows us a better view of some seemingly “bad” events. Or maybe it gives us that last thread to hold onto when things are bleak, indeed. The positive, hopeful mindset of the fellow in the story caused me to ponder over the following scripture, and how much I can grow in accepting its counsel:
“And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose.” (Rom. 8:28)
From my current vantage point, I can easily see the blessings wrapped in some difficult things that transpired earlier in my life. At the time, though, it felt dreadful. Was I kicking against the pricks? Maybe. In time, I have come to see that my Father in Heaven had it all under control the whole time. I just wasn’t “getting it.”
On occasion, my wall of safety has seemingly collapsed, my comfort zone has become uncomfortable, or the “all is well with the world” feeling has taken a vacation. Although my logical mind tells me that worry is useless and fear is the opposite of faith, I falter in standing firm and constant. What if I could only adapt, 100 percent, to the “This is good” idea?
Of course the “This is good” line doesn’t work when we intentionally cause harm or offense. It isn’t a catch all for our mess-ups, and it won’t solve our problems. It isn’t a shallow offer to get through heartbreaking difficulties.
But it will allow us more freedom from some painfully negative thoughts and emotions. It does offer a sense of balance when things are off-tilt. It does, in some fundamental ways, make for a “good” life.
Even though the story is fictional, I wondered about that year the affable fellow spent in jail. It would seem he was content, positive, and hopeful during his incarceration. And that he would continue on this good path. There was a lot to learn in this short story!
Lessons to learn
Here are a few lessons I found:
1. Unpleasant situations may be a blessing of safety and goodness from God who loves me.
2. If I have to go through something, I might as well do it as pleasantly as possible.
3. There is something good about everything that occurs. It might just take time to see it.
4. I would rather sleep well and worry less.
5. I would rather not be like the king, who jumped to conclusions.
6. To let bygones be bygones is good for all.
7. It is better to look for the good at the time of a “bad” event, rather than catch the vision somewhere down the road.
8. What seems bleak may be turned to a benefit for us and to glory for God.
I’m sure there are many more little lessons to dig out of that fable. But for now, and the immediate future, I want to focus my thoughts on three words: “This Is Good.” With them, I can build more hope, grow more faith, and probably even sleep better. This is good!