We undergo all kinds of pain and misery. There are times when nothing works well and the future appears to be bleak. There appears to be no end in sight and no relief from the continuous misery. We must always trust God and pray but it is times such as these that we must turn to Him with even bigger zeal. He is our Saviour and He alone can show us a way out. Adversity teaches us to be brave and we come out that much stronger from the experience. Perhaps, God wants to make us strong and independent, therefore, He is trying to remove our crutches- our over dependence on someone or something. This reminds me of a story about a poor family and their cow.
Once upon a time in a far away land, there lived a wise teacher and his disciple. During one of their travels, they came upon an extremely poor family staying in a miserable hut in a desolate place where there were hardly any crops or greenery. A man lived with his wife, three young children and a thin, tired looking cow. Since they were hungry and thirsty, the wise man and his disciple stopped for a few hours and were well received. The family shared whatever little they could with them. Later, the wise man thanked the owner and asked him, “This is a very poor and desolate place, far away from anything. I can see hardly any crops or vegetables growing. How do you survive?”
The man replied, “You see that cow? That’s what keeps us going. She gives us milk, some of it we turn into cheese. We go into the city and exchange the milk and cheese for our needs – including food. When it rains we try to grow some vegetables wherever we can because it is rocky and there hardly any good land. That’s how we survive.”
The wise man thanked them for their hospitality and left. When he reached the first bend in the road, he said to his disciple, “Go back, get the cow, take her to that cliff in front of us, and push her off it.”
The disciple could not believe his ears. “I cannot do that, master! How can we be so ungrateful, cruel and heartless? The cow is all they have. If I throw it off the cliff, they won’t be able to survive. Without the cow, they’ll all die!”
The wise man took a deep breath and repeated the order- a little firmly this time. Though outraged, the student obeyed his teacher. He returned to the hut, untied the cow and quietly led it to the edge of the cliff from where he pushed it. The animal fell down and died.
As the years passed by, remorse for what he had done never left the disciple. One day, the guilt became too much to bear so he left the wise man to see the family of that little hut. He wanted to find out what had happened to them; to help them out, apologize or somehow make amends. Upon rounding a turn in the road, he saw that in place of the poor miserable hut stood a beautiful house with trees all around, a well manicured lawn, a swimming pool and several cars in the garage- in short a prosperous looking place. The family was celebrating their first million dollars.
The heart of the disciple froze and wondered what could have happened to that poor family. Without a doubt, they must have been forced to sell their land and leave. Perhaps at this very moment they must all be begging on the streets of some city. He approached the house and asked them the whereabouts of the family that had lived in poverty there several years ago.
“You’re looking at that family,” said the man. At that instant the disciple recognized the owner of the poor hut, only now he was much healthier, happier and confident. The woman too looked happy and the children were now healthy good looking teenagers.
He was dumbfounded, and asked, “What happened? I was here with my teacher a few years ago and this was a miserable place. There was nothing. What did you do to improve your lives in such a short period?”
The man looked at the disciple and replied with a smile, “Yes I remember you and the wise man. After you left, our cow strayed and fell off the cliff. When I went down, I found it dead. Initially I cursed my bad luck. But we had no time to cry. In order to survive, we had to start doing other things. We discovered skills we didn’t even know we possessed. Because we were forced to come up with new ideas, new ways of doing things, we prospered and are now much better off than before.”
At times our biggest obstacle is over dependence on something fragile. The crutches that should be helping us to move ahead become chains that hinder our growth. So, perhaps, God wants to “push your cow off the cliff” and make you aware of your strengths. Trust Him and turn to Him for guidance.