There’s an old Chinese proverb about a man who lost his horse, which he thought to be a bad thing. Later his horse returned bringing a great wild stallion with him. This seemed like a good thing. Then his son went riding on the stallion and fell off, breaking his leg. This was a bad thing for sure, right? But wait. Because of the son’s broken leg, he avoided being drafted into fighting the war and stayed home with his father instead (a good thing).
Sometimes our troubles are actually blessings in disguise.
Paul experienced this. He was shipwrecked, flogged, stoned, and imprisoned. We would consider it a very bad thing if it happened to us. But Paul writes to let others know this “bad thing” was actually a good thing because it actually served to advance the gospel of Christ.
When I broke my leg I mourned not being able to work, but then realized the rest gave me more time for reflection I had ignored. When going through chemotherapy I thought it was bad news because it delayed our mission to Bolivia. But quickly it was revealed that there was a mission for us right in the hospital. When something is lost we take special joy in what remains. In our weakness we find God’s strength. In strength we find the ability to persevere. In perseverance we find hope. In failure we learn humility. In being humbled we find his grace. In grace we find wonder. In our doubts we find renewed reason to believe. In believing we find deliverance. In all our suffering, if it is for the Lord, there is future glory revealed, adding to our hope.
What troubles have brought you bad news? The natural temptation is to want to get away from them as soon as possible. But maybe, and quite often, there is some good thing in the midst of it ready to be revealed. To discover it, we have to take our eyes off our problems and look to God for his blessing in disguise, his goodness in the middle of our dark circumstances.
I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living. – Psalm 27:13