In ancient times a Chinese farmer lost his only horse. The horse had bolted from the yard and was gone. His neighbours came by to sympathize with him. “Such bad luck that your horse is gone,” they said. But the wise farmer said: “Perhaps, perhaps not.”
And he was right because three days later the horse returned bringing with it a wild horse from the mountains. So his neighbours came round again saying: “Such good luck, now you have two horses.” He said again: “Perhaps, perhaps not.”
And he was right for while his son was breaking in the wild horse the son was thrown and broke his leg. Once again the neighbours came round. “Such bad luck your son broke his leg.” But the farmer said simply: “Perhaps, perhaps not.”
And he was right because a few days later a warlord, who was losing a battle, came to their village to round up all the fit young men, but they did not take the farmer’s son because his leg was broken. The neighbours came round again saying: “Such good luck your son was not taken to war” and the farmer said: “‘Perhaps, perhaps not.”
For the most part we seldom know whether the events happening in our lives will serve us well or not. There are exceptions. Some truly terrible things happen to people – early deaths, dreaded diseases, houses burn down and so on. These, often, simply have to be endured and, if we are fortunate, people who have had similar experiences, can be a comfort to us.
But generally there is a sense that God can make good things come of most everyday things that happen to us. A sense of humour, some perseverance, hard work and good companions can help us fi nd the God moment in just about any everyday situation.
Of course if we have learned to practise looking for God in every situation we can get better and better at discovering the subtle clues that we are not alone. We live in God’s world.
“We are not alone, we live in God’s world” are the first two lines of the United Church of Canada creed.