by Max Lucado
Once there was an old man who lived in a tiny
village. Although poor, he was envied by all, for he owned a
beautiful white horse. Even the king coveted his treasure. A horse
like this had never been seen before—such was its splendor, its
majesty, its strength.
People offered fabulous prices for the steed, but
the old man always refused. "This horse is not a horse to me," he
would tell them. "It is a person. How could you sell a person? He is
a friend, not a possession. How could you sell a friend?" The man
was poor and the temptation was great. But he never sold the horse.
One morning he found that the horse was not in
the stable. All the village came to see him. "You old fool," they
scoffed, "we told you that someone would steal your horse. We warned
you that you would be robbed. You are so poor. How could you ever
hope to protect such a valuable animal? It would have been better to
have sold him. You could have gotten whatever price you wanted. No
amount would have been too high. Now the horse is gone, and you've
been cursed with misfortune."
The old man responded, "Don't speak too quickly.
Say only that the horse is not in the stable. That is all we know;
the rest is judgment. If I've been cursed or not, how can you know?
How can you judge?"
The people contested, "Don't make us out to be
fools! We may not be philosophers, but great philosophy is not
needed. The simple fact that your horse is gone is a curse."
The old man spoke again. "All I know is that the
stable is empty, and the horse is gone. The rest I don't know.
Whether it be a curse or a blessing, I can't say. All we can see is
a fragment. Who can say what will come next?"
The people of the village laughed. They thought
that the man was crazy. They had always thought he was a fool; if he
wasn't, he would have sold the horse and lived off the money. But
instead, he was a poor woodcutter, an old man still cutting firewood
and dragging it out of the forest and selling it. He lived hand to
mouth in the misery of poverty. Now he had proven that he was,
indeed, a fool.
After fifteen days, the horse returned. He hadn't
been stolen; he had run away into the forest. Not only had he
returned, he had brought a dozen wild horses with him. Once again
the village people gathered around the woodcutter and spoke. "Old
man, you were right and we were wrong. What we thought was a curse
was a blessing. Please forgive us."
The man responded, "Once again, you go too far.
Say only that the horse is back. State only that a dozen horses
returned with him, but don't judge. How do you know if this is a
blessing or not? You see only a fragment. Unless you know the whole
story, how can you judge? You read only one page of a book. Can you
judge the whole book? You read only one word of a phrase. Can you
understand the entire phrase?
"Life is so vast, yet you judge all of life with
one page or one word. All you have is a fragment! Don't say that
this is a blessing. No one knows. I am content with what I know. I
am not perturbed by what I don't."
"Maybe the old man is right," they said to one
another. So they said little. But down deep, they knew he was wrong.
They knew it was a blessing. Twelve wild horses had returned with
one horse. With a little bit of work, the animals could be broken
and trained and sold for much money.
The old man had a son, an only son. The young man
began to break the wild horses. After a few days, he fell from one
of the horses and broke both legs. Once again the villagers gathered
around the old man and cast their judgments.
"You were right," they said. "You proved you were
right. The dozen horses were not a blessing. They were a curse. Your
only son has broken his legs, and now in your old age you have no
one to help you. Now you are poorer than ever."
The old man spoke again. "You people are obsessed
with judging. Don't go so far. Say only that my son broke his legs.
Who knows if it is a blessing or a curse? No one knows. We only have
a fragment. Life comes in fragments."
It so happened that a few weeks later the country
engaged in war against a neighboring country. All the young men of
the village were required to join the army. Only the son of the old
man was excluded, because he was injured. Once again the people
gathered around the old man, crying and screaming because their sons
had been taken. There was little chance that they would return. The
enemy was strong, and the war would be a losing struggle. They would
never see their sons again.
"You were right, old man," they wept. "God knows
you were right. This proves it. Your son's accident was a blessing.
His legs may be broken, but at least he is with you. Our sons are
The old man spoke again. "It is impossible to
talk with you. You always draw conclusions. No one knows. Say only
this: Your sons had to go to war, and mine did not. No one knows if
it is a blessing or a curse. No one is wise enough to know. Only God
The old man was right. We only have a fragment.
Life's mishaps and horrors are only a page out of a grand book. We
must be slow about drawing conclusions. We must reserve judgment on
life's storms until we know the whole story.
don't know where the woodcutter learned his patience. Perhaps from
another woodcutter in Galilee. For it was the Carpenter who said it
"Do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will
worry about itself." (Mt. 6:34)
He should know. He is the Author of our story.
And he has already written the final chapter.
the Eye of the Storm
Copyright (Thomas Nelson, 1997) Max Lucado