Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us. –Romans 5:3-5
There is a story of a boy who found a caterpillar and brought it home. Shortly thereafter, the caterpillar began building her cocoon. The boy knew that one day, when the time was right, she would emerge and spread her beautiful wings. The boy couldn’t wait! So each day he checked on his caterpillar until one day he noticed a tiny hole. It was time. But as the boy watched, he could see that the butterfly was struggling. So, with a pair of scissors, he carefully opened the cocoon to free the butterfly. The butterfly emerged, but her wings were small and shriveled and her body, swollen. The butterfly never flew.
What the boy came to learn was that part of the metamorphosis for the butterfly, was the struggle. In order for the butterfly to fly, it needed to work its way through the small hole. That is how it builds its wing and body strength to fly. Even though the boy was trying to help, in the end, he hurt the butterfly.
A lot of times, if given the option between the difficult path versus the easy path, I readily choose the latter. It is not pleasant to suffer or struggle. But oftentimes, it is a part of the process of growth. It is true: We grow most through experiences that push us to our limits. Yet regularly, we avoid the struggle ourselves, or else as parents, we help our kids avoid the struggle. In the end, like the boy, instead of helping ourselves or others, we only cause long-term hurt.
It seems bizarre to rejoice in our sufferings, but the story of the butterfly illustrates why it is not necessarily a bad thing to go through trying times. This is where growth comes. God uses life’s difficulties to help us grow into stronger and better people. These problems develop perseverance, which in turn deepens our character. This then leads to hope, because it deepens our trust and relationship with God.
1. What areas in your life have you been tempted to help someone else — a parent, spouse, friend or child — to take a shortcut? Think through these and ask God for wisdom if this is really a time to grow.
2. Is there something in your life you need to do, but have avoided it for fear of the struggle? What is that and how can you make a step today to move forward in faith?
Jeremiah 29:11; Isaiah 40:9-11; Romans 8:28