God's mercy is such that every affliction is a stopper - it blocks a greater affliction.

"...Along these lines, I'm thinking of a very famous story in the Masnavi, in which a farmer comes to Moses, one of the children of Israel. And he says, "Moses, would you please teach me the language of the animals?" He says, "Of course not! How do you know I even know the language of the animals?" Every day he comes back and pesters Moses. One day God says, "Teach him." So the next day this guy comes and Moses teaches him the language of the animals.

The man is so happy with himself. And he goes back and he's living his daily life. One day he hears the chicken, you know the hen saying to the rooster. "Well, too bad about the old goat here." And the rooster said, "What's going on?" "Oh, he's going to die. Can't you see?" The farmer takes the goat into town and he sells it, right? Sure enough, the next day he hears, the guy comes back, the guy who bought the goat. "Hey, your goat died on me." "It was perfectly health when you bought it."

A few days later. About a month later, you know. He was out in the barnyard again. He hears one of the sheep talking to another sheep. He says, "Well, too bad about the old horse. You know, his days are numbered. Look at him, you know. Not much time." So, he grabs the horse, takes the horse to the market. A week later, the buyer comes back. "What did you do? You sold me a sick horse!" "You looked at his teeth, you checked him out. You said what a fine specimen of horse flesh. How can you blame me? I know nothing. You must have fed him some bad food or something."

So, this goes on. The farmer starts getting very wealthy, I mean, relative to the other farmers he knows. He's doing very well. And then a year down the line he hears one of the cows talking to another. "Gee, too bad about the master." "What's wrong with the master?" "Oh can't you see? I don't think he has more than a week left to live."

And of course the farmer says, this can't be! He runs back to Moses. He says "Moses, save me." He says "What are you talking about?" "Moses, save me. I'm going to die. The cow is saying I'm going to die in a week. Don't you remember you taught me the language of animals?" Moses says, "What can I do?" "You're the one who taught me. You're the one that can save me." Moses says, "It's far, far too late for that. Don't you understand that every affliction you suffer prevents a greater affliction? If you had left that goat to die the first time, and just ignored it, you never would have gotten sick. Your lifespan would have lasted 150 years." Think about that.