One day, a man wandered through the forest and came across an injured fox. The poor creature had been pursued by the huntsmen and had broken its legs in its efforts to escape. Now it lay in the undergrowth, helpless to find food.
The man’s heart went out to the fox, but as he watched, a grizzly bear loomed up out of the trees, dragging the carcass of an animal it had killed. The bear appeared to ignore the presence of the wounded fox, but when it shuffled off again after its meal, it left the remains of the carcass close to where the fox was hiding. The fox devoured the meat avidly.
The next day, the man walked through the forest again. And again, the bear left a tasty morsel behind for the hungry fox. And on the third day, the same thing happened.
The pondered hard over what he had seen. “If God cares so much for a wounded fox,” he thought, “how much more will he care for me. My faith is far too feeble. I must learn to trust in God as this fox trusts.”
So the man went into a quiet corner of the forest and prayed, “Loving Father, this injured fox has shown me what it means to trust you. Now I too commit myself entirely to your care. I trust that you will care for me just as you care for the fox.” And with this, he lay down and waited for God to act.
A day passed an nothing happened. The man was getting hungry. A second day passed and still nothing happened. The man was deeply puzzled. A third day passed and the man was angry. “Father,” he cried, “you love that little fox more than you love me! Why won’t you care for me when I trust you so much? Why don’t you feed me?”
At last, hunger forced him back into the town. There on the streets the man came upon a starving child. He railed on God in his rage. “Why don’t you do something?!”
“I have done something,” God said. “I have created you. But you choose to behave like the fox when you could model yourself on the bear.”
Retelling of an Arabian tale