In this season of Thanksgiving, I want to share with you an African fable, The African King and His Close Friend.
An African King once had a close friend with whom he grew up, and the close friend had a habit of looking at every situation that occurred in his life, positive or negative, as good. He would constantly remark, “This is good.”
Well, one day the king and his friend went on a hunting expedition, and it was the friend’s job to load the rifles. The friend had apparently loaded one of the guns incorrectly because when the king pulled the trigger, it backfired and blew off his thumb. The king screamed out in pain. After examining the king’s thumb-less hand, the best friend remarked as usual, “This is good,” to which the king replied, “Nope, this is not good.” And violently shaking head sideways, he yelled, “It can’t be good, you idiot. And it will never ever be good till the day I die!” In a fit of rage, the king commanded, “Throw him into the darkest dungeon so he can think about what he’s been saying for the rest of his life!” So the king had his close friend thrown in jail.
About a year later, the king was out hunting in an area known to be inhabited by cannibals, and he ended up being captured and bound. And as the cannibals began preparing the king to eat, one of them noticed that he was missing his right thumb. Being superstitious, they never ate anyone who is less than whole, so they set him free. As he returned home, the king realized that his dear friend was right after all. Getting his thumb accidentally blown off was indeed a good thing. It saved his life.
The king immediately freed his old friend from prison, apologizing profusely and telling him all that happened with the cannibals. “I’m so sorry for sending you to jail for all this time,” he said remorsefully. “It wasn’t right for me to do that, and I hope that someday you can forgive me.” “No, no, no, no,” his friend interrupted. “This is very good.” The king snapped, “This is not good. You have to stop saying that. This is not good. How could sending my best friend to jail possibly be good?” The best friend said, “No, it is good, because if I hadn’t been in jail, I would have been in the cannibal village with you.”
We live in the benevolent universe because our God is benevolent. God will take whatever circumstance you find yourself and use it as an opportunity to turn it into a good outcome. St. Paul instructs us to “Give thanks in all circumstances!” (1 Thessalonians 5:18)
“Everything will be all right in the end.
If it’s not all right, it is not yet the end.”
– Richard Rohr, The Universal Christ