Chinese Proverb: Farmer’s misfortune and fortune

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Taoist Chinese Proverb: The old farmer who lost his horse, bad or good luck?

“The old man who lost his horse” (塞翁失馬,焉知非福) is a Chinese parable written in the 2nd century B.C. It was passed on from a collection of essays known as Huainanzi (a blend of Daoist, Confucianist thoughts such as “Yin and Yang”).

Not all misfortunes end in misfortunes

  • The horse of a Chinese farmer ran away. That evening, neighbors came to his house to comfort him. “…How unfortunate,” they said. The old man said, “Maybe.”
  • The next day, the horse came back with seven “barbarian” horses. That evening, his neighbors came back and said, “…You’re so fortunate, you now have eight horses, how fortunate!” The old man replied, “Maybe.”
  • The next day, the farmer’s son road one of the wild horses. He was thrown off and broke his leg. The neighbors then said, “… Such bad luck.” The old man replied, “Maybe.”
  • The next day, the Emperor’s generals went to the village to conscript men for the army. His son was rejected because of his broken legs.

The story is used to illustrate how “Bad luck brings good luck” (故福之為禍). Not all fortunes are good in the same way that not all misfortunes are bad.

What the Bible says about troubles and misfortunes

Similarly, the Bible tells us that in all things, God works for the good of those who love Him. Even a single strand of your hair won’t fall without accomplishing a purpose.

If the Taoist man can trust “fate,” we have the God of the universe, the maker of heaven and earth who looks after us.

Should troubles, problems, or misfortune come, trust the Lord with all your heart, soul, and mind. Lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways, acknowledge Him, and He will direct your path.

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