Grief & Loss: Post Script

First published 10th November 2013

This article is an addendum to Bishop Lee's letter on grief and loss found here.

In the EHS Daily Office there were a number of reflections that stood out and to which I found myself frequently returning. However, there were some with which I struggled, including this story told by the Chinese:

There was a wise man living on one of Chinas vast frontiers. One day, for no apparent reason, a young mans horse ran away and was taken by nomads across the border. Everyone tried to offer consolation for the mans bad fortune, but his father, a wise man, said, What makes you so sure this is not a blessing?

Months later his horse returned, bringing with her a magnificent stallion. This time everyone was full of congratulations for the sons good fortune.

But now his father said, What makes you so sure this isnt a disaster?

Their household was made richer by this fine horse the son loved to ride. But one day he fell off his horse and broke his hip. Once again everyone offered their consolation for his bad luck, but his father said, What makes you so sure this is not a blessing?

The reflection went on in this vein and ended,

Often what appears like a blessing and success is actually a terrible thing; what appears to be a terrible event turns out to be a blessing.

Although I appreciated something of the wisdom here it was clearly more oriental than Christian.

In his letter to Christs followers in Rome the apostle Paul expresses the heart of Christian understanding:

For we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose (Romans 8: 28).

This is not about looking for the opposite in what occurs, as the Chinese parable implies, or trying to spin things; it is about recognising how God can use the terrible for blessing as well as the wonderful! I very much feel in a season of discovering and endeavouring to practise this.


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