This is a story that Bob Russell used to use in his sermons every now and then. It has served me well when things were not going very good. I would remember that the Bible says that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him and then I would think of this story. 

There’s an old legend about a Chinaman whose horse broke out of the coral and ran away. His neighbors sympathized, “Sorry to hear about your horse—too bad.” “Well, we don’t know if it’s bad or not,” said the Chinaman. “Wait and see.” The next day the horse returned and led five beautiful wild stallions into the fold. “Good news about your horse returning,” the neighbors said. “Well, we don’t know if it’s good news or not,” said the Chinaman. The next week his son was thrown off one of the wild stallions and the boy broke his leg. “So sorry about your son,” said the neighbors. “To bad he broke his leg.” “Well, we are not sure it’s all bad,” responded the Chinaman. The next day a military leader came by conscripting all able-bodied young men for the military. The Chinaman’s son was exempted because of his disability and all the neighbors rejoiced, “Good news about your son not heaving to go off to war,” they said. But the Chinaman said, “We can’t be sure if it is good news or not.” A week later the young soldiers returned from a victorious battle and celebrated by dividing up the spoils. “To bad your son was not able to go with us,” one of them said. “We’re not sure that’s bad,” said the Chinaman. The story could go on for ever! What appears to be good news one day can be bad the next and vice-versa.


The lesson that I received was “We can’t always understand how God is working for our good. What seems bad one day will be good the next”. (Romans 8:28 )





  1. Darrell Gudmundson says:

    In fairness, it should be noted that this story is has its origins as a teaching of the Taoist Philosophy, although it is now used in many varieties of religious teachings around the world.

    It should also be noted that the term “Chinaman” is not considered respectful usage any more, much like the N….. word for people of African origin. “Chinese Man” would likely be a better word usage.

  2. astudent says:

    Thanks for the origins of the story. I asked Mr. Russell where the story came from, but he didn’t know, or did not remember.
    I have the utmost respect for Bob Russell. I badgered him as I do everyone, but he never failed to answer me: though the answers did get shorter after a while. You have to realize that Mr. Russell had the responsibility of overseeing a Church of over 20,000 members and yet he still considered what I said!!!
    I share the same respect for others as I have for myself and that is none, so I usually manage to alienate everyone at some point.
    I am not about to change, so lets think about being respectful of others feelings.
    First and foremost it should be clear that it is impossible to say anything about anyone without alienating someone. Anyone that does not have a preconceived notion that I have a desire to disrespect someone from China would not take offense about me using the word “Chinaman” to describe a man from China. If they do it is their problem and not mine and I will not let anyone make it mine.
    I am not from China, nor am I black, but I think I know more about how words are used to belittle others than most people do. You see I am only five foot three inches tall. All of my life I have heard others call me shorty, shrimp, peewee, or any number of derogatory names. The truth is the truth and I am short. Those names only hurt me if “I” let them. So I don’t.
    We use to say “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me”, but it is no longer heard and everyone tries to tell others to use different words, or not to speak at all. This only adds power to the words.
    I am always giving advice to those who are not asking for it, but my advice to those who are offended by words is “For Pet’s sake, get a life”.
    I don’t just give advice. I adhere to my own, so feel free to call me “Vertically Challenged”, or any other reference to my size. It will not bother me at all, because I know and apply “Sticks and stones ……….

  3. Michael Michael says:

    Hear! Hear! A person who thinks the word Chinaman offensive offends me. I do hope Darrell Gudmundson has the courtesy to apologise to me for offending me. I am sick and tired of the thought police who arrogate to themselves the right to tell others what they can and cannot say.

  4. Michael Michael says:

    Although I have already commented on Darrell Gudmundson’s observation that calling a man from China a Chinaman is disrespectful, I am driven to commenting further. Does Mr Gudmundson not agree that it must therefore follow that to call a man from England an Englishman, or a man from France a Frenchman, or a man from Wales a Welshman. or (and I can go on and on)… is disrespectful. If not, can he please explain the difference. All the examples I have given use a single word to describe a man from the country concerned. Mr Gudmundson advocates the use of two words to describe a man from China. Why?

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