Updated: Oct 13, 2020
By Sybil Mack
Many years ago, there was a farmer who had a horse that was very valuable to him. One day, the horse ran away, and the townspeople commented, “Oh no! How terrible for you!” The farmer responded, “Maybe yes, maybe no.”
The following day, his horse returned with six stallions alongside it. The townspeople said, “How wonderful! You have six new horses!” The farmer responded, “Maybe yes, maybe no.”
A few days later, the farmer’s son was trying to break in one of the stallions when he was bucked off, breaking his leg. The townspeople said, “Oh how awful! Your poor son!” The farmer said, “Maybe yes, maybe no.”
A week later, the army came through town, drafting all the young men to fight in war. Except—the farmer’s son was injured, and so couldn’t go. The townspeople cried out, “You’re so lucky! Your son is saved!” The farmer responded, “Maybe yes, maybe no.” (Old Zen Tale)
In the above tale, we can see that it would have been a mistake for the farmer to overreact to his circumstances—either good or bad—because in the end he did not know how things would turn out. However, in reality it would be true to say that most of us are more like the townspeople than the farmer. Today, people live in a constant state of reactivity and uneasiness, always trying to control things that are far outside of their control. This leads to a state of extreme confusion and disorder. While nobody, not even I would actively choose chaos, it kind of creeps up on us and before we realize what is actually happening, it becomes a way of life. No one likes to lose control of anything, but we can't handle everything, and we have to call on God.
"Therefore, don't worry about tomorrow, because tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own." Matthew 6:34.
We live in a constant state of unease and anxiety, feeling like there is always more to do and more to worry about. We stress about our to-do lists, even though no matter how many items pop up, we add more items to take their place. We feel like we can’t relax and be happy until we have achieved certain goals, but when we get what we want, we just want something else.
“When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought joy to my soul.” Psalm 94:19
yet reality tells us that so much of what we spend our time worrying about never even happens. Living under the weight of the "what if's" is a hard place to dwell. Your heart cannot be consumed by concern if you choose to call on God in prayer. Tell Christ everything and keep an open line of communication. He can handle your worries. God will fill you with His peace if you are willing to slow down and really stop trying to control your life. Just accept that you will never figure it all out, but God is faithful and knows the way. Focus on the God of Peace and pursue knowing Him, not the answers to your problems. Knowing Him personally and intimately is the best solution in every sticky situation.
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7.
God really is in control, working out His purposes, even though we may not understand them. He is sovereign, all-wise, and loving as the good book shows. However, the book does not shy away from addressing very traumatic situations, but points us to the God who is genuinely trustworthy. Be assured, He is with you in whatever you face, in the turmoil and struggles, amidst the anxious thoughts and the worries of life. He is there, strengthening, helping, and He holds you in His hands. Just say this whenever your mind starts spinning with crazy thoughts: “That is not true. I will not waste precious time rehearsing wrong thoughts. I choose life and peace. I will focus on God’s goodness and glory. I believe in Jesus who rose from the dead and can resurrect anything. His redemption is at work in my world.”
“The Lord is with me; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me? The Lord is with me; he is my helper.” Psalm 118:6-7.
As the farmer in the parable acknowledges above, any situation can have a good or not so good outcome, such that when we’re down to nothing, God is up to something – truths to teach us, answers to satisfy us, assurance to bolster us, resources to supply us, or directions to guide us…It’s exactly at those points that God does His best work.