The story is told of a king who had a close friend with whom he grew up. The friend had a habit of looking at every situation that ever occurred in his life (positive or negative) and remarking, “This is good!”
One day the king and his friend were on a hunting expedition. The friend would load and prepare the guns for the king. In preparing one of the guns, the friend had apparently done something wrong, for after taking the gun from his friend, the king fired it and his thumb was blown off.
Examining the situation, the friend remarked as usual, “this is good!” To which the king replied, “No, this is not good!” and out of anger, he sent his friend to jail.
About a year later, the king was hunting in a dangerous area. Cannibals captured him and took him to their village. They tied his hands, stacked some wood, set up a stake and bound him to it. As they approached to set fire to the wood, they noticed that the king was missing a thumb. Being superstitious, they never ate anyone that was less than whole. So, after untying the king, they sent him on his way.
As he returned home, he was reminded of the event that had taken his thumb and felt remorse for his treatment of his friend. He went immediately to the jail to speak with his friend. “You were right,” he said, “it was good that my thumb was blown off.” And he proceeded to tell the friend all that had just happened. “I am very sorry for sending you to jail for so long. It was bad for me to do this.”
“No,” his friend replied, “this is good!” “What do you mean, ‘This is good’? How could it be good that I sent my friend to jail for a year?” “If I had not been in jail, I would have been with you and the Cannibals would have eaten me.”
This story reminds us a very important truth: “behind every event of our life is something good” no matter what happens, no matter how bad it was. God, in His loving providence, always brings about a good. Why? Because God allows evil to happen only to the extent that He can bring good out of it.
While it is true that it is not always easy to see the good that is behind a bad event, it is also true that the good is always there and we must learn to discover it. “God Almighty,” writes St. Augustine, “because He is sovereignly good, would never allow any evil to exist in His works if He were not sufficiently powerful and able to bring good out of evil itself.”
There is irrefutable proof that this is so. We have been reconciled with God through the worst event in the history of humanity: when men killed God incarnate. Indeed, if, while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of his Son, how much more, once reconciled, will we be saved by his life (Rm. 5:10).
Sometimes the problem lies in the way we see our life. Instead of seeing our life as a way to go to heaven, we see our life as if we were here forever with the most important thing being to have a good life here on earth. We should always remember what St. Catherine of Siena wrote: “Everything proceeds from love; everything is ordered to the salvation of man. God does nothing that is not for this purpose.”