Hard Lesson – Five

Maybe It's Good

Many times when something bad happens to us – getting fired from a job, getting denied entry from the university of your choice, a car breaking down, you name it – there is something is going on behind the scenes that we can’t see. And in the end, what we thought was bad, ends up being good.

The bible, in Romans 8:28 says, “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.”

Once, a long time ago, there was a farmer who had a prize stallion – the fastest and most beautiful horse in the kingdom. One day the horse ran away.

The farmer’s neighbor, always eager to put in his two cents, said to the farmer when he heard the news, “You’ve lost your best horse! That’s terrible!”

The farmer barely seemed to notice. “Maybe it’s bad,” he said. “Maybe it’s good.”

Weeks later, the stallion returned of it’s own accord, running back into his own corral, and with him brought an entire heard of mares he’d gathered to himself while out in the wild.

When the neighbor saw the farmer’s apparent good fortune, he exclaimed, “My goodness, man! You’ll be the richest man in the kingdom with all those horses! That’s wonderful!”

“Maybe it’s good. Maybe it’s bad.” said the farmer.

When hardships and suffering might be for the best - how to have a positive outlook through tough times - getting through pain, grief, loss.

A few weeks later, the farmer’s oldest son was breaking one of the new horses, when he was thrown, fracturing a leg in the process.

The neighbor came to console the farmer. “My, my, my!” he tutted. “You’ve lost your best hand now. That’s terrible!”

The farmer smiled. “Maybe it’s bad. Maybe it’s good.”

A week later, a war began with a neighboring kingdom. The king’s officials came through, conscripting the oldest male of every household. But when seeing the farmer’s son laid up with a broken leg, they passed on to the next household.


Since we never know what our future holds, we should always refrain from passing a negative judgement on something that happens to us, no matter how bad it may seem. To pass judgement on something we know nothing about shows a lack of critical thinking, not to mention such negative thinking often leads to anger and depression, both of which are bad for your health.

And there’s yet another reason not to prejudge something that happens to you as bad.

According to researchers at Cornell University, our minds find it easier to find evidence which confirms our judgements, rather than evidence that dis-confirms it, a phenomenon, called confirmation bias. So once we’ve judged a situation as bad, that conclusion will then cause us to perceive our life in a way that confirms our negative outlook.

The truth is, we never know what the future holds. The thing you dread now, that thing you must be dragged through, kicking and screaming, might just be the best thing that ever happened to you.

Over a year ago, I was denied compassionate release. The court’s denial meant that instead of getting immediate release from prison due to the Covid pandemic, I would have to serve the remaining four years of my sentence. It was one of the hardest things I’d ever had to go through.

Nothing good, I thought, could possibly come from such a situation. For months, I was inconsolable.

And then, lo and behold, as a direct result of getting my motion denied, I met the most wonderful woman in the world. That woman is now my wife. Had my motion been granted, I would have never met this woman. God truly works in mysterious ways.

We cannot know what He has in store for us.

But if we are patient, if we accept with gratitude and an open heart the things He has set before us, we will often find that in the end, what we thought was a painful loss, was in reality, a supreme gain.

Living Well

Marcus Aurelius once said,

“Wherever it is possible to live, it is possible to live well”.

Meaning that no matter how adverse the environment surround us, it is still possible for us to live with respect and dignity for ourselves and those around us.

For those of us who are incarcerated, it is tempting to want to give in to despair, to cease striving to better yourself, to think it’s no use even trying. For many, after a few years in prison, a feeling of extreme powerlessness often sets in. It just goes with the territory.

But we need not (and should not) use our circumstances as an excuse to mistreat others, or withhold our compassion, or give up on self-improvement. In fact, adverse circumstances should make us even more aware of the need for self-improvement, the need to love our fellow man.

Living well despite circumstances - Spencer Adams

For though we may be unable to change the world in our present state of confinement, we at least can strive to improve out own little corner of that world, to spur ourselves on continually onward and upward in our never ending quest to do better and be better.

Even if the rewards are are few.

In prison, where the brevity of life (if we but open our eyes) is so apparent, we are daily reminded of the transience of all things; of the supreme value of small moments, the priceless nature of kindness for kindness sake. When we fully realize how short is our span of time on this earth, we can begin to understand how absurd is the grasping after luxury, after fine clothes, and bling. There’s nothing like a decade behind bars to awaken a man to the joys of simplicity, the rewards of living with less, of living in harmony with nature.

A good book. A sunset. A few good friends. A freshly grown tomato. A full moon. A small bonfire. Good conversation.

And most important, someone to share it all with. So whether you live in a prison, a ten-million-dollar mansion, or a small, one-room cabin back in the woods, it’s possible to live well.