Oh, that's good! No, that's bad.

Faith & Inspiration
by Andrée Seu Peterson

Posted on Friday, December 12, 2014, at 9:13 am

When I speak at retreats I bring my Bible and Margery Cuyler’s That’s Good! That’s Bad! The children’s picture book concerns a little boy at the zoo with his father and mother who is lifted up and away by a large red helium balloon. That’s bad, right? Well, you would think so. But the balloon, after drifting for miles, lands him on the back of a roly-poly hippopotamus in a river.

That’s good, right?

Not so fast. Ten noisy baboons by the river chase the boy up a tree. That’s bad, right? Nope, that’s good, because the baboons just want to play vine-swing with him. That’s good, right? Um, no, that’s bad because the kid grabs onto a vine that turns out to be a very scary snake. Oh, that’s bad!

Well, if you think that’s bad, you’re not catching on.

The little boy’s day continues in this vein for 19 more pages and (to my children’s—and my adult retreat audience’s—great relief) concludes with a kindly and intelligent stork delivering the toddler back to his parents at the zoo, none the worse for wear.

I have no idea whether Ms. Cuyler is a Christian, but I say the story she has written is really about our forefather Joseph, son of Jacob. He begins life as his father’s favorite. (Oh! That’s good! No, that’s bad.) Jealousy drives his brothers to sell him to a traveling band of Ishmaelites, who sell him to a slave auction. (Oh, that’s bad. No, that’s good.) A high government official buys Joseph off the auction block and is so impressed with the young Hebrew’s management skills that he makes him his right-hand man. (Oh, that’s good. No, that’s bad.)

The official’s wife falsely accuses Joseph of sexual harassment and he lands in prison. (Oh, that’s bad. No, that’s good.) He is promoted in prison, and in the course of his duties he interprets a dream for Pharaoh’s butler, who promises to put in a good word for the innocent Joseph. (Oh, that’s good. No, that’s bad.) The butler forgets his promise. (Oh, that’s bad. No, that’s good.) Two years later, Pharaoh has a dream and wants an interpreter and the butler remembers Joseph. (Oh, that’s good.)

Yes, that’s very, very good, because Joseph rises through the ranks to become the second to Pharaoh in Egypt, and God uses his connections to save his father and brothers from famine in Canaan, and to bring them down to Egypt where they are quarantined and prepared as a special people through whom God will bring salvation to the world.

The women I tell this to get excited about Joseph, but mostly about their own lives. They understand what we are meant to learn from these stories—that only God sees around corners, and therefore it is very wise to not try to figure out our own way to happiness and safety by relying on our own understanding and worldly wiles. The wise person will trust in God’s ways and stick to them, knowing that life can get messy in the middle, because the person who makes God his trust, the story will turn out well in the end, in the very, very end.

A great stocking stuffer: Andrée Seu Peterson’s Won’t Let You Go Unless You Bless Me, regularly $12.95, is now available from WORLD for only $5.95.

Andrée Seu Peterson

Andrée is a senior writer for WORLD Magazine and the author of three books: Won't Let You Go Unless You Bless Me, Normal Kingdom Business, and We Shall Have Spring Again.

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