The story is attributed to many sources—to Buddha, to Tolstoy, and to nameless sages of the past. Its components may change a bit, but its message is the same.
It is the story of a man who is being pursued by a tiger. The man runs from the jungle into a field with the tiger chasing close behind. It looks as though the tiger will easily overtake and kill the poor man in seconds. Suddenly, in his life and death flight from the tiger, he comes upon the edge of a cliff and jumps.
After falling headlong for ten feet or so the man catches the branches of a small tree growing on the side of the cliff. There he hangs precariously with the man-eating tiger above him and the deadly drop of hundreds of feet below him. He cannot hang on for long and even if he can hold out it’s quite possible the roots of this small tree will give way and send him to his death. What a terrible predicament to be in!
Just then, the dangling man notices a strawberry plant heavy with bright red strawberries, at the base of the small tree. With one hand clinging to the tree, the man reaches out with the other, grasps a handful of strawberries, and puts them in his mouth. He closes his eyes and for a moment savors the sweet taste of the berries.
I first heard this story on an old episode of The Incredible Hulk and my initial reaction was, “How can anyone think of eating at a time like that? Doesn’t he realize the crisis he’s in? Doesn’t he know he may plunge to his death at any moment? Hanging from a rickety tree on the side of a cliff, between a hungry tiger and a fatal fall is not the time to be enjoying strawberries.”
But the whole point of the story is that such is the time to enjoy the pleasures of life, to rejoice in its beauty, and relish all its blessings. Why? Because there will always be some crisis in life. There’ll always be some cloud to darken our path. Life will always have its imperfections and its blemishes. If we wait until everything in our life is fault-free and totally together, we’ll never enjoy anything. Our preoccupation with problems will make us miserable all our days and we’ll overlook all the pleasant patches of strawberries in the process. We’ve got to hunt for the good in life. Otherwise, we’ll always focus on the bad.
The Scripture says, “This is the day that the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it” (Psalm 118:24).
Dear Father in heaven, thank You for the many blessings You’ve poured into my life. Lord, please don’t let me be oblivious to this reality. Grant me the situational awareness to perceive all the wonderful treasures you’ve surrounded me with. Teach me the survival skill of hunting for the good in life. Amen.