There’s an old story about a poor farmer’s son who goes to see a raja and his procession going through town. As the raja passes by, he drops a ring which the boy retrieves and returns to the raja. As a reward, the boy is given one of the raja’s fine horses. Everyone tells the boy how wonderful this is; now his father will have a horse to use on the farm. The can grow more food and make more money for his family. And for a while, that is the case. Later, a drought strikes the area. Nothing will grow and the boy’s family is nearly starving. The horse, because it was a gift from the raja, cannot be sold or eaten. Feeding the horse becomes an unbearable burden and everyone tells the boy what a curse it was that he had ever been given the horse. However, just as all hope is lost, a local rich man learns that the family has a horse and hires the boy to work for him using the horse to carry messages and work on his property. Once again, everyone tells the boy how wonderful it is that he was given the horse so he can help his starving family. But one day the horse spooks and throws the boy, breaking his leg. He can no longer work. Once again, the gift of the horse is a curse according to those around the boy. But then war broke out and when the raja sent for the boy (who was the farmer’s only son), he was unable to go because of his broken leg. This saves the boys life as all the soldiers from his village died in an ambush. The horse is hailed as the boy’s salvation. On and on it goes.
This is life. In the middle of things, it can be impossible to know what is good or bad and whether to be happy or crushed by your circumstances. What remember in order to counter our tendency towards misjudgments and emotional whiplash is that our job is to deal with life as it comes. The time will come for judgment to be passed on the things that happen in our lives, but until we get there, its best to suspend judgment and deal with whatever we are facing as calmly as we can manage.