Sunday, June 26, 2011

Not Forever

Circumstances of the past few days bring to mind an ancient saying that has the ability to change everything. Not that it has some magical or mystical power but it helps us to put things in perspective and live our life in an attitude of hope and gratitude.

The saying originated as an ancient story from Persia, and has been retold throughout the centuries. Here is one version that is found recorded in Jewish folklore and as with all things pertaining to wisdom it involves King Solomon.

One day Solomon decided to humble Benaiah ben Yehoyada, his most trusted minister. He said to him, "Benaiah, there is a certain ring that I want you to bring to me. I wish to wear it for Sukkot which gives you six months to find it."

"If it exists anywhere on earth, your majesty," replied Benaiah, "I will find it and bring it to you, but what makes the ring so special?"

"It has magic powers," answered the king. "If a happy man looks at it, he becomes sad, and if a sad man looks at it, he becomes happy." Solomon knew that no such ring existed in the world, but he wished to give his minister a little taste of humility.

Spring passed and then summer, and still Benaiah had no idea where he could find the ring. On the night before Sukkot, he decided to take a walk in one of he poorest quarters of Jerusalem. He passed by a merchant who had begun to set out the day's wares on a shabby carpet. "Have you by any chance heard of a magic ring that makes the happy wearer forget his joy and the broken-hearted wearer forget his sorrows?" asked Benaiah.

He watched the grandfather take a plain gold ring from his carpet and engrave something on it. When Benaiah read the words on the ring, his face broke out in a wide smile.

That night the entire city welcomed in the holiday of Sukkot with great festivity. "Well, my friend," said Solomon, "have you found what I sent you after?" All the ministers laughed and Solomon himself smiled.

To everyone's surprise, Benaiah held up a small gold ring and declared, "Here it is, your majesty!" As soon as Solomon read the inscription, the smile vanished from his face. The jeweler had written three Hebrew letters on the gold band: gimel, zayin, yud, which began the words "Gam zeh ya'avor" -- "This too shall pass."

At that moment Solomon realized that all his wisdom and fabulous wealth and tremendous power were but fleeting things, for one day he would be nothing but dust.


"This too shall pass." A simple four-word sentence and yet it holds a wealth of wisdom and truth.

It has brought hope and comfort to millions of people in times of despair, distress and discouragement. All of us go through good times and bad times. When we are down in the dumps we are so overwhelmed that we have to remind ourselves (because it is so easy to forget and lose perspective under such circumstances) that the situation will not last forever and that good times will return. There is always hope. That is why people pray.

Just as bad times do not last forever, in the same way good times also do not last forever. So let us appreciate and make the most of the good things, especially the people and relationships, that God has put in our life when we have them.

Ask anyone who has lost a loved one or has a loved one who is far away from home and you'll find that good times could be as simple as having all the family around the table enjoying a meal together. So be grateful for and cherish the precious moments you have with your loved ones.

Life is fragile. Never be stingy with your "I love you" to the ones you love. Be generous with your hugs. Learn to laugh more together.

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