The Farmer and the Donkey – Part 1

Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. –James 1:2-3

A farmer’s donkey had fallen into an old, abandoned well. The animal brayed and brayed as the farmer tried to figure out what to do. The farmer could not think of a way to get the donkey out of the well, so he decided to bury the donkey and fill the well in the process. The farmer grabbed a shovel and began to shovel dirt into the well.

At first, the donkey realized what was happening and began braying louder. Finally, the donkey began to quiet down. After shoveling for a while, the farmer looked down into the well and was amazed at what he saw. With every shovel of dirt that hit the donkey, the animal would shake the dirt off and take a step up. The farmer continued to shovel dirt into the well, and the donkey would shake it off and take another step up. After some time, the donkey stepped up over the edge of the well and trotted off.

What’s the moral of the story? Let’s look at it from the perspective of the donkey: like dirt being shoveled on the donkey, the negative experiences of life can seemingly bury us. Crying out is a natural and appropriate response when we find ourselves in tough times. But, it doesn’t solve the problem. The solution, with God’s help in our lives, is to shake the experiences off and to use them as stepping-stones. Further, if we don’t give in — if we shake off the “dirt” and take a step up — allowing God to work in our lives, we become equipped not only to better handle more “dirt,” but to reach out and help others who are experiencing similar trials and challenges.

None of us can escape life’s “dirt.” To remain silent and do nothing won’t help. Instead, the next time you find yourself on the verge of being buried by circumstances, cry out to God. With God’s help, shake off the “dirt” and take a step up. Then, when you’ve come through the circumstance, don’t just trot off. Be sure to extend a helping hand to someone else who is struggling.

1. What “dirt” is threatening to “bury” you? Ask God to give you strength and wisdom to persevere through this challenge.

2. Based on what you’ve learned in your own situation, what advice or comfort could you give to someone who is experiencing a similar challenge?

Psalm 9:9; Matthew 7:24-27; 2 Corinthians 1:3-7

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Jim Liebelt

Jim is Senior Writer, Editor and Researcher for HomeWord. Jim has 40 years of experience as a youth and family ministry specialist, having served over the years as a pastor, author, editor, consultant, mentor, trainer, college instructor, and speaker. Jim’s HomeWord Culture Blog also appears on Jim and his wife Jenny live in Quincy, MA.

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