How can you be certain?

Doctor Mbu is one of the weirdest people I have ever met. Also weird is the fact that, although everyone called him that, his name was neither Mbu nor was he a Doctor by any definition of the word. He dressed funny, smelled even funnier and if you ever ran into him, he would find a way to spit out a lecture. More often than not, he just spouted out nonsense. I guess his motto was “If you talk often enough, eventually you would say something sensible.” True to those words, one day he actually surprised me with some excellent advice.

It happened way back when I was nine. As a little boy, I would often go out to play football with boys my age. On one of such days, we had only been out for a few minutes when our ball got burst and we had to return home. We were lost in conversation when, all of a sudden, we caught notice of Doctor Mbu directly ahead of us. It was too late to run or change our route.

He asked us where were from and, diligently, we explained to him that we had been out playing when the bursting of our ball prompted us to call it an early day. Doctor Mbu looked at us like we had just been diagnosed of cancer.

“It was just a ball.” I was forced to tell him. One would have thought I was the adult and he was the kid.

“No, it’s not just the ball Hesley, it is life.” He replied “Come lemme tell you a story.” He continued. A phrase, not appropriate for a nine-year-old to say out loud, floated through my mind.

“Well, he said ‘Hesley’ so see you later buddy.” My friends patted my back and left me behind with the creepy guy. (I know, pfff some friends!)

Just when I was beginning to regret running my mouth, Doctor Mbu said

“This is the best story I’ll ever tell you kid, and if you’re to remember just one thing I’ll tell you, let it be this.

Once upon a time in a land far away, there lived a very rich man. It was that time in history when a man’s wealth was judged by cattle, sheep and horses, so yes he had a lot of those things. One faithful day, his most prized horse escaped confinement and got lost in the woods. The horse was a pure-breed (whatever that means) and was famous all over the kingdom. The bad news spread like wildfire and pretty soon a multitude of friends and well-wishers had gathered at his home to extend their support. When it was time for the rich man to give a word, he said ‘My friends why should we be sad? How can we be sure that what happened, happened for good or for bad?’ No one could answer him and when evening came, they all went their way. The next morning, his horse returned but it didn’t come alone, it returned with all the other horses that had gotten lost in the woods. They had recognised it and followed it back home. Now, all those same friends and well-wishers gathered again. This time, they gathered in celebration. Again, time for a speech and again the rich man said ‘my friends why should we be merry? How can we be sure that what happened, happened for good or for bad?’ Again, no one could answer and when evening came, they went their merry way.

A few days later the horse broke the rich man’s only son’s leg. As you have already guessed, those same friends and well-wishers gathered again. It was time for the speech and again the rich man said ‘My friends why should we be sad? How can we be sure that what happened, happened for good or for bad?’ Still, no answer then evening came and the crowd left. A few days later, a neighbouring kingdom threatened war. Every household was to send one man of fighting age to battle. Our rich man was far above fighting age and his son’s legs were broken. The usual crowd gathered to express their friendly envy and again the rich man said ‘my friends why should we be happy? How can we be sure that what happened, happened for good or for bad?’ A few days later, the war was cancelled and every young man who went got a handsome reward…..” Well you get the picture.

When Doctor Mbu eventually got to the end of his story (It was much, much longer than this), he topped it off impressively. He said “Son, a lot of times in life your ‘balls are going get burst’, how would you be sure that whatever is happening is happening for good or for bad?” and before I could respond, he continued “Romans 8 verse 28, ‘For we know, that all things work together for the good of those who love and trust in God, those whom he has called according to his purpose.’ Not some things, not most things but all things.” Then he went on to confuse me with more random food for thought. I’ll spare you the details.

To Doctor Mbu’s credit, this story is actually the only thing he ever told me that I remember and I’m always telling it to everyone I meet. It’s actually a cool story and a lot of people do need to hear it. You see, I have met so many people who think they know the difference between success and failure, they don’t. Let me put it to you this way, how can you be certain that the promotion you want so bad is not the worst thing that could ever happen to you? Or that woman you’re dying to marry isn’t just a heartbreak waiting to happen? Or that the illness you are currently fighting is not the greatest blessing of your life? Or that the exam you failed isn’t a stepping-stone towards something greater?

Bad things will happen to us all, that’s just life. But next time, when everything is going awry, ask yourself ‘how can I be certain that these things are happening for good or for bad?’ you’ll find the answer in Romans 8 vs 28. Then slap on a smile and wait for the blessings to be born of the trials. A wise man once said “Regardless of what you are going through, remember you’re going through not standing still; Better days are just ahead.”