I love this story I heard once about a donkey.
There was an old farmer whose donkey fell into an empty well. The farmer was old and the donkey was too. The farmer knew he didn’t have enough strength to pull the donkey out of the deep hole. So he reasoned to himself, “This donkey is old. I am too. I can’t get him out of this mess. It is better for the donkey and for me if I just bury him here in this hole. He’s had a good life and served me well, but I can’t do anything with him now. It is better to bury him and put him out of his misery.” So the farmer grabbed a shovel and started throwing in dirt.
The dirt felt like raindrops on the donkey’s face, only it was messy and it hurt a little. He wondered what was going on. He was already bumped and bruised from the fall. His body ached and he felt tired. Everything around him looked dark. He couldn’t make sense of what was happening to him. He felt scared and alone. “What more could go wrong?” the donkey thought to himself. That’s when the second pile of dirt hit him. It seemed to come out of nowhere — and this time it hurt. “Why is this happening to me?” the donkey groaned. He was angry and confused.
The farmer could hear the donkey’s cries from below. The donkey cried louder and louder with each pile of dirt he threw. And then the cries stopped. The farmer felt relieved. He didn’t want the donkey to suffer and was glad he was no longer in pain. “This is for the best,” the farmer reasoned. He continued to fill up the hole.
The donkey stopped groaning for a moment. “All this complaining isn’t getting me anywhere,” the donkey reasoned. “I’m still in this mess and it is only getting worse. I need to do something different so that I can get out.” So the donkey thought, “I can’t do anything about the dirt being thrown at me, but I can change my attitude. I don’t have to let others put me down — or steal my hope. I do have a choice.” The donkey decided to shake off the dirt and not let it affect him.
Something amazing happened. When he shook off the dirt, it no longer affected him the same way. The dirt fell down around him. He used the dirt to STEP UP and GET UP on top of it. In that moment, the donkey made Three Critical Choices.
- He chose to STOP letting others influence him and took back control of his life.
- He chose to SHAKE OFF any hurt feelings — negativity, discouragement or feeling overwhelmed — that kept him from moving ahead.
- He chose to STEP UP to the challenge, confront what was happening, and push past the obstacles facing him.
STOP. SHAKE OFF. STEP UP. He did it over and over again. With every step he got stronger and more determined. The more dirt he shook off, the better he got at not letting it affect him. The struggle built his confidence. “I can do this,” the donkey thought. “I can do this as long as I don’t give up.”
The farmer couldn’t believe his eyes. Instead of being dead, the donkey was very much alive. With every pile of dirt he was getting closer and closer to the surface. The farmer mistook his silence as a sign he had given up. The farmer had underestimated the donkey. If the donkey had just stood there and done nothing, he would have surely died.
The donkey refused to let a negative circumstance determine his outlook on life. He did not allow his feelings to influence his mood or steal his joy. He walked out of that hole one step at a time. The very thing that hurt him actually helped him get free. By not giving up, the donkey overcame a hopeless situation. The donkey left the struggle stronger and more confident, with a hopeful attitude toward the future and a different perspective on pain.
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Have you ever been stuck in a situation that looked hopeless?
Life can throw a lot of dirt on us. Negative people can throw dirt by their critical comments. Negative circumstances can make us feel like we are being buried alive. It is easy to get discouraged when life doesn’t go as we’ve planned. Sometimes the struggles we face can cause us to lose hope.
- Do you feel like there is “dirt” being thrown at you?
- Are you confused? Are you asking, “Why is this happening?”
- Do you feel like, “Life is not fair?”
- Have you lost hope that things will ever change?
Don’t let negative circumstances or people give you a negative mindset. You do not have to STAY discouraged. You can make a choice to have a good attitude despite what is happening around you. You can choose to never give up.
How do we rise above our circumstances? By making the same Three Critical Choices the donkey did . . .
- We need to STOP allowing negative circumstances or people to get us down and take back control of our lives.
- We need to SHAKE OFF our hurt feelings in order to move forward. We cannot allow our feelings to influence our mood or steal our joy.
- We need to take one STEP at a time, one obstacle at a time. We need to give it time.
Someone once said, “The definition of insanity is to continue doing the same thing over and over again and expect different results.” If we stay stuck in a negative situation and don’t do anything differently to change it, we will never be free. Simply hoping things will get better is not enough. We need to make the choice to change.
Don’t let a negative circumstance give you a negative outlook on life. SHAKE it off and set yourself FREE. Don’t stay stuck in your pain. With God’s help, you can overcome any obstacle you face. Nothing is hopeless. Never give up the fight.
The Bible for Today:
- “Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning.” (Psalm 30:5, AMP)
- “Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.” (Psalm 42:5, NIV)
- “I have learned how to be content (satisfied to the point where I am not disturbed or disquieted) in whatever state I am.” (Philippians 4:11, AMP)