I learned a lot from my grandfather growing up, including the single most important lesson in my life – which I wrote about here.
However, another profound insight he gave me, that I continually lean on as an adult, is this following bit of wisdom:
“Things are not as bad or great as they first seem.”
Those 11 words are packed with profundity and truth that I see proven on a regular basis. I recently read a fable that perfectly articulates my grandfather’s statement, which I’d like to paraphrase below.
A long time ago, there was a wise man who lived along China’s expansive frontier. Without warning one day, nomadic raiders crossed the border and stole the horse of his young, adult son. The young man was distraught and neighbors tried to console him for the misfortune. But the wise father asked his son, “What makes you so sure this is not a blessing?”
A few months later the young man’s horse returned, bringing with her a magnificent stallion. This time everyone was congratulating the son for his incredible good fortune. This time the wise father asked, “What makes you so sure this isn’t a disaster?”
The fortunes of the family increased with the fine stallion, which the son loved to ride. Then one day the young man was thrown off the horse and broke his hip. Once again, the neighbors offered their consolation for the son’s bad luck but his father asked again, “What makes you so sure this is not a blessing?”
Shortly after the accident the nomadic raiders invaded China and started a war. The Chinese government required all able-bodied men to take up arms and go to battle. The war was devastating for all the border families who lost nearly nine of every ten men.
However, because the son was lame – not only did he survive but so did his father who had avoided the battle to care for his son needs.
The point of the story is that we’ll all experience ups and downs in our lives, but patience mixed with a longer perspective might profoundly shift the ultimate outcome. This reminds me of a relevant scripture:
I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. (Philippians 4:12)
Question: Have you ever experienced a reversal of a good or bad situation?