The Golden Fish
Children in Bosnia-Herzegovina all know the ancient story of the poor woman who caught a golden fish, released it, and in return gained wealth and happiness. This Balkan fairy tale turned into reality for one poor family.
Before the start of the Bosnian war, the Malkoc family lived next to a small lake in the northwestern village of Jezero. One day in 1990, Smajo Malkoc returned from a trip to Austria with an unusual gift for his teenage sons, Dzevad and Catib: an aquarium with two goldfish.
Two years passed and then Bosnian Serb forces advanced on Jezero. The women and children fled; and the men stayed back to resist the attacking soldiers. Smajo Malkoc was killed. When his wife, Fehima, sneaked back into the destroyed village to bury her husband and rescue what remained of their belongings, she took pity on the fish in the aquarium. She let them out into the nearby lake, saying to herself, “This way, they might be more fortunate than us.”
Fast forward to 1995. Fehima Malkoc returned with her sons to Jezero. Nothing but ruins remained of their home and their village. Through misty eyes she looked toward the lake. Glimpsing something strange, she walked over to the shore.
“The whole lake was shining from the thousands of golden fish in it,” she said. “It made me immediately think of my husband. This was something he left me that I never hoped for.”
During the years of killing all around the lake, life underwater had flourished. After their return, Fehima Malkoc and her sons started caring for and selling the goldfish.
By 1998, homes, stores, and coffee shops all over the region feature aquariums containing fish from Jezero. The Malkoc house, rebuilt on its original site, is one of the biggest in the village. Two new cars are parked in front, and the family says it has enough money to quit worrying about the future.
“It was a special kind of gift from our father,” Dzevad Malkoc said.
One can never underestimate what a gift of love or an act of kindness might produce. Jesus said, “Give and it will be given unto you” (Luke 6:38). Whenever you give, no matter how small and insignificant your gift might be, God blesses it and uses it to accomplish great things. Jesus took a young boy’s lunch and fed a multitude. Have no doubt that he can take whatever we offer to him and turn it into something magnificent.
The Malkocs’ story is also a parable of God’s relentless grace at work even in the midst of chaos and trouble. While the war in Bosnia was raging, life below the surface of a small lake flourished. We can rest assured that God’s will is being done—that his Kingdom is flourishing—even when life on the surface is full of trouble and strife.