Once there lived a blacksmith that gave his entire life to the Lord our God. He was a tall man of few words; broad in stature and immense in physical strength. From the time he was young he spent his days at the forge of his father with hammer, anvil, steel, and flame. He was, indeed, a master craftsman sought out by the wealthiest of merchants and men of noble birth. The blacksmith was an honest man that believed in profit, but not at the expense of his fellow man’s misfortune. He was compensated generously and he gave benevolently. The town’s folk respected him and, despite the numerous sins of his youth, he was looked upon as an honorable fellow.

Broad in stature, immense in physical strength, honest in his work, and yet the great struggles in his life could not be easily counted. His father was taken in the Great War and his mother shortly after. A widower at an early age and with no children of his own, one would only assume that his heart burned with anger and grief.

One day it happened that a wealthy village merchant came to the forge of the blacksmith. The merchant said to him “It is strange to me that a devout man such as you has endured such hardship and suffering. You care for everyone and have nothing. I care for myself only and have everything. Is this God’s reward for those who walk in his ways?”

The blacksmith did not abruptly answer the wealthy merchant. It was clear that he too had many times asked himself the same question and after a long moment of silence the blacksmith responded saying, “I have suffered, and continue to suffer. My light purse of coins stands well beneath your heavy chest of silver, gold and precious stones.

You see here the raw iron which I have to make into horse’s shoes. Do you know what I do with it? I take a piece of that cold raw iron and heat it in the fire until it is red, almost white with the heat. Then I hammer it unmercifully to shape it as I know it should be shaped. Then I plunge it into a pail of cold water to temper it. Then I heat it again and hammer it some more. And this I do until it is finished. But sometimes I find a piece of iron that won’t stand up under this treatment. The heat and the hammering and the cold water are too much for it. I don’t know why it fails in the process, but I know it will never make a good horse’s shoe.”

He pointed to a heap of scrap iron that was near the door of his shop. “When I get a piece that cannot take the shape and temper, I throw it out on the scrap heap. It will never be good for anything.”

He went on, “I have been held in the fires of affliction and have felt the beating hammer upon me, but I don’t mind, if only the Lord can bring me to what I should be. And so, in all these hard things my prayer is simply this: O Lord my God, shape me as you see fit, only don’t throw me on the scrap heap.”

The Blacksmith understood full well that trusting in God’s Divine Providence indicates that a man of Faith will, at times, suffer. Our Blessed Lord suffered. His mother suffered. The Apostles suffered. Christians have suffered greatly throughout the centuries and continue to do so. We understand, or should for that matter, that our capacity to comprehend the Lord’s will is limited, but we take great comfort in knowing that His love for us is limitless.

I do not claim to know the blacksmith written about in this short story, but I do claim that I have personally known men and women just like him. Those men and women, in their lives, experienced great joy as well as great sadness, and like the iron horseshoes wrought in the forge of the mighty blacksmith, those men and women were not thrown upon the scrap heap of unworkable metal.