There once was a man. He had a good life, a happy life. Lots of friends, a loving family, a supportive church. Of course everyone has good days and bad days but overall this man lived a blessed, happy life.
One day he was walking along, living out his life completely as usual, and disaster fell upon him. He didn't know if it was because he wasn't looking where he was going, or because he wasn't being observant to possible dangers, but, for whatever combination of reasons, he tripped and fell down an abandoned, dried-out well. Right to the bottom.
He somehow survived the fall, although he felt like he might have a couple broken bones. For the first little while he just lay there in pain, with no ability to try to save himself. He hurt to much to even try to find an escape. And so, at the beginning, he just lay at the bottom of this pit of darkness in agony and misery.
After a while though he came to his senses and realized he needed to try to get out. He needed to climb out of that well. He was extremely unprepared for any type of climb, all he had were the clothes on his back and the shoes on his feet. He'd never climbed up anything before in his life, but he figured he had to try. And so he started to climb.
He tried and tried to climb up that rock wall. Over and over he would try. Grasping desperately at any rocks that looked big enough to be a handhold. He'd make it a couple feet, 5 maybe, before he would slip and fall back down to the ground with a crash. After a while, his fingernails had all been ripped off and his knees and hands were bleeding. His body was still nowhere recovered from the original fall and each little fall that came with a failure to climb to the top cause excruciating pain. None of his climbing attempts even got him one quarter of the way up to the top. And when he did get a little higher than he had previously, it just meant the fall back down to the bottom was that much farther, and the pain that came with it was that much stronger.
It began to look hopeless and the man began to contemplate what his life would look like if he could never get out. Sure he could live a little while down there, but what kind of quality of life would he have? As the time went on he became more hungry, more tired and in more and more pain. None of his friends or family even noticed he had fallen down the well, and so none of them knew how much he desperately needed help. And so, alone at the bottom of the well, with his body in ruins, he began to question whether this was it. Whether he would ever make his way out of this pit and back into the sunlight. Or if he would spend the rest of his life completely alone in this misery.
Over and over he questioned the reasons for why he was down there in the first place. Was there something he could have done differently that day that would have spared him this struggle? Should he have been paying more attention where he was walking? Should he have been carrying an emergency kit with him? Should he have had a friend watching out for him? What could he have done differently to prevent this whole situation?
And he also questioned why God was asked him to walk through this. Was He punishing the man for not being prepared? Or for something else he had done is his life? The man had always thought he had had a pretty good relationship with God before this. Not perfect obviously, but pretty good. But yet here he was, practically dying, and God seemed to be nowhere around. Why wasn't God listening?
Even at the worst time, lying at the bottom of that well bleeding and starving, the man never really questioned whether God existed. He knew He did. And he still believed God had a plan for his life. But what he did question was why God had chosen this as part of the plan for his life. Why did God ask him to walk through this terrible ordeal? He couldn't think of a single good thing which could come out of it.
As the time went on, the man who had been making frantic attempts to escape had started to give up. There's no way he'd make it up that rock face, why bother even trying? It would just cause more hurt and pain with every fall back to the bottom. His prayers with God which had started more questioning and logical became more and more desperate. He had been a churchgoer his whole life, but he had never prayed like this before. He'd never been in the situation where he had to pray like this before. Crying and in anguish he was literally begging God to have mercy on him. He took comfort in the one thought that if God is all-knowing, he would know exactly the amount of pain he was living through. He would know exactly what the man was feeling. And so the man clung onto that thought and begged for mercy.
He was praying for a miracle. What he wanted was a biblical styled miracle, where and angel would appear, lift him up out of the well and place him on solid ground with no more cuts or scrapes or bruises. Perfectly healed. He wanted everything to be magically better again. He wanted a miracle which would essentially rewind his life to before the point where he fell in the well. He wanted the whole thing to have never happened. This is the kind of miracle he was praying for.
And God listened, He heard his prayer. But God's plans are not always exactly what we expect, and so God had a different idea in mind for him. So instead of sending the angel the man was praying for, God sent something else. One day as the man was just sitting at the bottom of the well, a backpack mysteriously falls down from the top. The man, extremely curious, opens it to find it full of rock climbing equipment. He tried to call up the well to whoever had dropped it, but there was no response. The didn't seem to be anyone up there.
And the man who had been drowning in his own misery then had a realization - this was his miracle he was waiting for. No it's not exactly what he was looking for. Yes, he'd have rather the easy magical solution. But he realized this is a different type of miracle. Instead of God magically fixing his problems, this was a way of God helping him help himself. God had heard his cries for help, and this is what he wass given. A bag of rock climbing equipment.
Now the man didn't know how to use any of it. But he started experimenting with what he had and he started to build strategies on how he could use the different pieces to help himself get out. It wasn't easy. And it took a long time and a lot of effort but the man was now fuelled by hope and determined to find a way to make it work. Surely if this is all God had given him, it must be enough to get him out.
And so he started climbing. It was a long climb, and he did fall down several times and have to start again. But eventually, using his new tools and his new sense of determination, he somehow made his way up and crawled up into the sunlight again. He had almost forgotten what it was like to feel the heat of the sun on his face. He realized how he forgot how bright the outside world could be, his eyes were so adjusted to the darkness of the well. And he praised God for helping him make it out. It was such a hard climb, but he had made it. And he could go back to his life and his friends and his family again.
He often though about why God chose to send rock climbing equipment instead of his angel. (He was still so thankful God sent anything, but he still pondered this a lot). Surely since God is God, it would have been equally easy to just miraculously lift him out of that well as it was to send that backpack. Why make him have to endure that long climb up?
But then he realized how much he learned on that climb. About all the types of equipment and how they all could be used. About determination and perseverance. Things that can be useful later in life. Things that could maybe help someone else. If he had been miraculously lifted up from the well, what would he have learned from that? Not much at all. And so he began to realize it was better for him this way. He learned things which will stick with him for the rest of his life.
And so after a bit of time for healing, the man started to resume his regular life. But things were never quite the same. He had a new, better, perspective on many things and he began to see the world through a more thankful lens. And so he tried to live his life with a grateful heart, no matter what he was doing. Whether he was spending time with friends, volunteering at church, or working his new job at the rock climbing gym.