by Jason Hart
Once there lived a great and mighty prince who ruled over a vast kingdom. At the height of his power, God visited the prince one night in a dream. In the dream, God explained that a horrible tragedy was fast approaching which would utterly destroy the prince's kingdom, family, and wealth. However, God explained, there was another option. If the prince could choose which of the three he wanted God to destroy - either his kingdom, his family, or his wealth - God would only destroy that one, and would leave the other two unharmed.
Terrified, the prince awoke from his dream, trembling in fear. The prince could not imagine a world in which God could be so cruel. As he considered what God had said, he wondered if God would really fulfill his promise. After a few minutes of staring at the ceiling, the prince got on his knees beside his bed and begged God to not allow this great tragedy to strike him and his kingdom. He pleaded with God to allow the devastation to pass by, asking that his kingdom, family, and wealth remain untouched.
The next day however, a huge army invaded the prince's kingdom. The prince's army was vastly outnumbered, and one by one the cities within the prince's kingdom fell to the enemy. Knowing that the capital would soon be surrounded, the prince fled from his kingdom during the middle of the night. He loaded up his family, servants, and possessions and they went as a caravan deep into the wilderness just east of his kingdom.
Again one day, God came to the prince in a dream. This time, God explained that the devastation He had promised was underway, and that next it would move to his family and wealth. Once again however, God offered the prince the chance to choose just one of the two to absorb God's destruction. The prince was furious at God's latest proposal. He thought of his beautiful wife and son, and he thought of his many servants, livestock and piles of gold. The prince knew that losing either would be too great a burden to bear. The prince cried out to God, begging Him to turn from the disaster He had promised.
The next day, a band of men from within the prince's own camp betrayed him. They stole his gold, took his livestock, slaughtered his servants and plundered his possessions. They left the prince and his family alone and destitute in the wilderness with nothing but the clothes on their backs.
As a steady rain began to fall, the prince huddled together with his family, trying to stay warm as they fell to sleep. That night, more terrifying and terrible than ever, God came to the prince in a dream. God announced that the full weight of the devastating hammer had yet to fall upon the prince. His family, after falling deathly ill, God explained, would soon be stripped from him.
The prince startled awake and cried out to God. "Why can't you just leave me alone?!" he shouted, shaking his fist at the heavens. "What kind of a God are you? How could you have asked one man to bear the burden of such impossible choices?"
Desperate, the prince pleaded with God to give him another choice. "Please don't take away my family! I will give you anything you want - even my own life - but please, leave my wife and son alone."
God spoke to the prince in his despair, "Oh prince, mighty among men. What right do you have to be angry? It was your choice that sealed their fate - not mine. I gave you the chance to choose your family over your kingdom and your possessions - but you wouldn't take it. And now, no such choice exists."