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A Folktale about Why Bad Things Happen

There is a story about an old man who lived in a small village:

He was the poorest man in the village, but he owned the most beautiful white stallion. And the king had offered him a small fortune for it. After a terribly harsh winter, during which the old man and his family nearly starved, the townspeople came to visit.
"Old man," they said, "you can hardly afford to feed your family. Sell the stallion, and you will be rich. If you do not, you are a fool."
"It's too early to tell," replied the old man. A few months later, the old man woke up to find that the white stallion had run away.
Once again the townspeople came, and they said to the old man, "See. If you had sold the king your horse, you would be rich. Now you have nothing! You are a fool!"
"It's too early to tell," replied the old man.
Two weeks later, the white stallion returned, and along with it came three other white stallions.
"Old man," the townspeople said, "we are the fools! Now you can sell the stallion to the king, and you will still have three stallions left. You are smart."
"It's too early to tell," said the old man.
The following week, the old man's son, his only son, was breaking in one of the stallions and was thrown, crushing both his legs.
The townspeople paid a visit to the old man, and they said, "Old man, if you had just sold the stallion to the king, you'd be rich, and your son would not be crippled. You are a fool."
"It is too early to tell," said the old man.
Well, the next month, war broke out with the neighboring village. All of the young men in the village were sent into the battle, and all were killed.
The townspeople came, and they cried to the old man, "We have lost our sons. You are the only one who has not. If you had sold your stallion to the king, your son, too, would be dead. You are so smart!"
"It's too early to tell," said the old man.

Possible Preaching Angles: The Sovereignty, Providence, or Wisdom of God / Suffering and Trials—In the midst of trials, sometimes well-meaning people try to offer explanations for why bad things happen. But usually we just don't know. Yet even when we don't have the answers, even when "It's too early to tell," God is still sovereign, and his purposes are for our good.

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