The Wise Mule

Over the last several weeks we have all lost something. High school seniors lost all the traditions of a senior year. Grandparents lost hugs from their grandkids. Those in nursing homes lost visits from family and friends. Families lost vacations. Parents lost jobs. Children lost sleepovers and birthday parties. Hospital patients lost visitors. Those who saw a loved one pass away lost having a funeral. On and on I could go. It is all sad.

The hardest part of COVID-19 is not knowing what we are still going to lose. Everyone is aware the world is going to look different moving forward, but how different? The answer to that question eludes us all.

Yesterday I was having a pity party. I’m sure that doesn’t happen to any of you, but it was happening to me. While internally bemoaning my losses, I received a story in a text from a friend. It was exactly what I needed in that moment. Let me share it with you:

A story is told of a farmer who owned an old mule. The mule fell into the farmer’s well. The farmer heard the mule “braying”—or whatever mules do when they fall into wells. After carefully assessing the situation, the farmer sympathized with the old mule, but decided that neither the mule nor the well was worth the trouble of saving.

Instead, he called his neighbors together and told them what had happened and enlisted them to help haul dirt to bury the mule in the well and put him out of his misery.

Initially, the mule was hysterical! But as the farmer and his neighbors continued shoveling and dirt kept hitting him the back, a thought struck him. Every time a shovel load of dirt landed on his back, he would shake it off and step up!

This he did, blow after blow. “Shake it off and step up…shake it off and step up…shake it off and step up!” He repeated this to encourage himself. No matter how painful the blows or distressing the situation seemed, the mule fought “panic” and just kept right on shaking it off and stepping up.

As you may have guessed, it wasn’t long before the mule, battered and exhausted, stepped triumphantly over the wall of that well! What seemed like would bury him was actually a blessing because of the manner in which he handled his adversity.

Each loss in our lives is another shovel load of dirt. In the face of so much loss, we are tempted to give in to panic, bitterness, and self-pity. But, if we can trust God and keep a good attitude, the losses that we feel may bury us, have within them the potential to be our way to step up.

The Bible says it this way…

Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing. (James 1:2-4)

My pity party is over. It’s time to step up.

Here is a song that encourages me. I hope it encourages you.

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