Blessings in Disguise

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

(Many thanks to Kevin Peterson, my friend and the editor of The Wayne Herald, for reporting on this story.  His column, “For Pete’s Sake,” appeared in the Thursday, September 25, 2008 edition on page 7B.)

On Friday, September 5, the NCAA’s winningest active coach, Don Meyer, was leading his Northern State University men’s basketball team to a retreat near Aberdeen, South Dakota.  Meyer was alone in the lead car of a five-car caravan when he collided with an oncoming semi truck.  The 63-year-old coach was badly injured and subsequently had his left leg amputated below the knee as a result of the injuries.

Sounds like a pretty rough patch, right?  Maybe a case of bad luck?

But “luck” is always subjective.  There was a bright side to even such a horrible accident.  During emergency surgery following his collision, his doctors discovered a slow-growing cancer in his liver and bowels.  Not exactly good news, either.  But if Don had never been injured, the doctors might not have discovered his cancer until it was too late.  As it is, he is now able to undergo cancer treatment, and it’s all because of a seeming stroke of “bad luck.”

Meyer himself saw the blessing in disguise: “What’s great about this is I would not have known about the cancer had I not had the wreck,” the coach wrote.  “God has blessed with the one thing we all need, which is truth.  I can now fight with all of my ability.”

Thankfully, sometimes God allows us a little “bad luck,” just to open our eyes or to save us from something worse.  It reminds me of an old parable about “good” luck and “bad” luck, both of which are in the providential hands of our great God.

Many years ago there was an old man who had one son and a horse.  One day his horse broke out of the corral and fled to the freedom of the hills.  “Your horse got out?  What bad luck!” said his neighbors.

“Why do you say that?” asked the old man.  “How do you know it’s bad luck?”

Sure enough, the next night the horse came back to his familiar corral for his usual feeding and watering, leading twelve wild horses with him.  The farmer’s son saw the horses in the corral, slipped out a side door and locked the gate.  Suddenly the farmer and his son had thirteen horses instead of none.  The neighbors heard the good news and rushed to the farmer, “Thirteen horses!  What good luck you have.”

The old farmer answered, “How do you know that it’s good luck?”

Some days later his strong son was trying to ride one of the wild horses, only to be thrown off and break a leg.  The neighbors came back that night and passed another hasty judgment: “Your son broke his leg.  What bad luck.”

The wise father answered again, “How do you know it’s bad luck?”

Sure enough, a few days later a warlord came through the town and conscripted every able-bodied young man, taking them off to war, never to return to their homes again.  But the young man was saved because of his broken leg.

Cavanaugh, Brian, ed. More Sower’s Seeds: Second Planting.  Paulist Press, 1992.  pp. 4-5.


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