Last week I wrote a blog entitled “Let’s Get Real.” In that blog I questioned why God allows Satan to win so many battles, even though I have no doubts that God has already won the eternal war. The post was about being honest with God. If we don’t understand what He is doing, or agree with it, we shouldn’t shy away from expressing that to Him in prayer. After all, how can prayer be real if it isn’t honest?
A few days later I was digging around in my files looking for something on a completely unrelated subject. In my digging I came across a story that I had saved from about a year and half ago. James Merritt, the pastor of Cross Pointe Church in Duluth Georgia, used the story on one of his t.v. broadcasts and I jotted it down after hearing it. Since it applies to questioning the way God handles things, I thought I’d share it with you as a companion piece to “Let’s Get Real.”
There was an old man who was known as the wisest man in a certain village. Whenever someone wanted council they would go see this man. One day a farmer went to him and said, “A horrible thing has happened to me: My ox died. I’m a farmer and I depended upon that ox to get my fields plowed and my crops planted. Now I can’t plant my crops and I’m going to starve. Do you agree that this is the worst possible thing that could have happened to me? The wise man said, “Maybe so, maybe not.”
The very next day the farmer looked out his window and saw a strong, sturdy horse come galloping up to his farm. The farmer wouldn’t have tried to catch the horse if he had still had the ox, but the ox’s death led him to go out and catch the horse. It turned out that the horse was much younger and stronger than the ox and could plow ground much faster. Because of this, over the next couple of weeks, the man was able to plant twice as much as he would have been able to plant with the ox.
The man went back to the wise man and said, “I owe you an apology.” Then he told him the story about the horse. He finished the story by saying, “You were right. My ox dying wasn’t the worst thing that could have happened. It was a blessing in disguise. The best thing that could have happened to me was getting this horse.” The wise man said, “Maybe so, maybe not.”
Three days later the farmer’s son took the horse out for a ride. But the horse threw him and the fall broke both of the son’s legs. Since the young man was the only worker the farmer had to help him get in his crops, the farmer was devastated. He went back to the wise man and said, “How did you know that me catching that horse was not going to be a good thing? My son getting both his legs broken has to be the worst thing that ever happened to me.” The wise man said, “Maybe so, maybe not.”
The very next day troops came to the village to take every young man away to fight a war that had just broken out. The only young man who wasn’t taken was the farmer’s son who was laid up with those two broken legs. Tragically, a few days later the village got word that every one of those young men had been killed in that war. Makes you think, doesn’t it?
My search through my files also uncovered two quotes from the late, great evangelist Vance Havner. First, Havner said, “God marks across some of our days, ‘Will explain later.'” Second, he said, “…all question marks will be straightened into exclamation points.”
So, how does this “Maybe So, Maybe Not” piece walk hand in hand with the “Let’s Get Real” piece? The answer is, let us be honest enough with God to question Him or disagree with Him, but at the same time let us be humble enough to admit that His wisdom is infinitely superior to our’s. Another quote I like is, “Even when I can’t track Him, I can trust Him.”
We all need to be reminded of that, don’t we? Our knowledge and understanding are so limited. We don’t know what the next second holds, to say nothing of the next day, week, month, or year. But God does, and He can be trusted to always do right. Remember this the next time you’ve got a problem with the way He is handling things. I’m going to take my own advice and try to do it too.