The Big Picture: The Story of the King and His Lieutenant

There is a bigger picture to life than the one we see when we judge only by the obvious.
Real faith is remembering that there is a beneficial plan behind the events at hand.

Once upon a time in a tropical land there lived a king who had an optimistic advisor.

This lieutenant was so positive, in fact, that the king was often annoyed by his practice of constantly finding good in everything.

One day while the king and the lieutenant were on a journey through the jungle, the king was chopping a fresh coconut for breakfast, and his machete slipped, cutting off his toe.

The aching monarch limped to show his misfortune to the lieutenant, who exclaimed, “That’s wonderful!”

“What did you say?” asked the king, astonished.

“This is a real blessing!” Hearing this response, the king became very angry; this man was obviously poking fun at his mishap.

“Take it from me,” the lieutenant exhorted, “behind this apparent accident there is some good we do not see.”

That was the last straw! Furious, the king picked up the lieutenant and hurled him into a dry well. Then he set out to find his way back to his castle.

En route, the king was apprehended by a band of headhunters who decided that he would make an excellent sacrifice for this month’s offering to the volcano.

The warriors took him to the tribal priest, who prepared him for the dubious honor. As the holy man was anointing the reluctant sacrifice, he noticed that the king was missing a toe.

“I’m sorry,” the priest informed the king, “we can’t use you – the volcano goddess accepts only full-bodied sacrifices; you are free to go.”

Overjoyed, the king hobbled out of the tribal camp.

Suddenly it dawned on him that the lieutenant had been correct – there was indeed a hidden blessing behind this seeming misfortune!

As quickly as he could, the king found his way back to the well where he had left the lieutenant.

To the ruler’s delight, his companion was still sitting in the well, whistling happily. (He was indeed a positive thinker!)

The king offered the lieutenant a hand, pulled him out of the well, and apologized profusely.

“I am terribly sorry I threw you in there!” the king confessed, as he dusted his advisor’s shoulders.

“I was taken prisoner by some wild natives who were about to cast me into the volcano. But when they saw my toe was missing, they let me go. It was actually a miracle, which you foretold – and I so thoughtlessly cast you into this pit! Can you ever forgive me?”

“No apology necessary,” replied the lieutenant. “It was also a blessing that you left me in the well.”

“Now how are you going to make something positive out of that?” queried the king.

“Because,” the lieutenant explained, “if I was with you, they would have taken me for the sacrifice!”

From I Had It All the Time, by Alan Cohen