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Is Suffering Good or Bad?

The following Chinese legend illustrates how events that seem “bad” or “good” might not turn out that way.

One day, a poor farmer’s horse got loose and ran into the hills near the farm. The farmer depended on the horse to do work. His family and neighbors said, “Oh, that’s so sad. What a terrible thing to happen!” The next week the horse came home, leading a herd of wild horses to the farm. Instead of one horse, the farmer now had many!

The farmer’s son began to train the wild horses to do farm work. But while he was taming them, he broke his leg. He could no longer help his father with the work. “What a terrible thing to happen!” everyone said.

A few days later, the army came and took away every healthy male youth to fight with them. The farmer’s son was not allowed to go because of his broken leg. He was able to help his father on the farm when he healed.

Read the story of Joseph and his brothers in Genesis. Can you think of a time when something that seemed bad or good turned out to be the opposite?


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