The Farmer and the Donkey

Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. James 1:2-3

I read a story about a farmer’s donkey that had fallen into an old, abandoned well. The animal brayed and brayed as the farmer tried to figure out what to do. The farmer could not think of a way to get the donkey out of the well, so he decided to bury the donkey and fill the well in the process. The farmer grabbed a shovel and began to shovel dirt into the well. At first, the donkey realized what was happening and began braying all the louder. Finally, the donkey began to quiet down. After shoveling for a while, the farmer looked down into the well and was amazed at what he saw. With every shovel of dirt that hit the donkey, the animal would shake the dirt off and take a step up. The farmer continued to shovel dirt into the well, and the donkey would shake it off and take another step up. After some time, the donkey stepped up over the edge of the well and trotted off.

What’s the moral of the story? Let’s look at it from the perspective of the donkey. Like dirt being shoveled on the donkey, the negative experiences of life can seemingly bury us. Crying out is a natural and appropriate response when we find ourselves in tough times. But, it doesn’t solve the problem. The solution, with God’s help in our lives, is to shake the experiences off and to use them as stepping-stones. Further, if we don’t give in – if we shake off the “dirt” and take a step up – allowing God to work in our lives, we become equipped not only to better handle more “dirt,” but to reach out and help others who are experiencing similar trials and challenges. None of us escape life’s “dirt.” To remain silent and do nothing won’t help. Instead, the next time you find yourself on the verge of being buried by circumstances, cry out to God. With God’s help, shake off the “dirt” and take a step up. Then, when you’ve come through the circumstance, don’t just trot off. Be sure to extend a helping hand to someone else who is struggling.

But Joseph said to them, “Don’t be afraid. Am I in the place of God? You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.”— Genesis 50:19-20

Let’s look at it from the perspective of the farmer. While I’m not certain about the intelligence of donkeys, if I was the farmer, I wouldn’t be expecting much help from the donkey in the future. How would one try to convey to the donkey, “Oh, sorry about trying to kill you!”
To me, a moral from the story is that God is able to bring good from our errors. The farmer erred in not filling up and covering the well in the first place. It was his fault that the donkey fell into the well. What was the farmer’s solution to the problem? He decided to kill the donkey and cover the whole mess up!

Covering up for mistakes and sins sounds pretty familiar. Fortunately, God is all-powerful, and He is able to do what we cannot. He is able to transform even the worst intentions into good outcomes. This doesn’t mean that we should expect God to remove the natural consequences for our poor decisions. In fact, I think He only rarely does this; however, because God is good, I believe He provides opportunities for some good to result.

Here’s a challenge for you today: When you realize you’ve sinned or otherwise messed something up, go straight to God. Ask Him to forgive you and always ask God to bring good out of every situation.

About scon777

Pastor/Teacher at Grace Bible Church in Redwood City, CA since 1998.
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