Years ago, I read the story of a man who found a butterfly struggling to get out of its cocoon. He took the cocoon home and put it on his desk where he could watch the butterfly emerge. He could see the mighty effort being made for release, but it seemed the butterfly needed help. So, he took a tiny pair of scissors and cut the cocoon open very carefully, releasing the butterfly. It tried to walk, but was unable to do so. Its wings were matted together, making them useless to fly. The butterfly died.
The man found out later that the struggle to get out of the cocoon was vital to the life and strength of the butterfly. The process, though painful looking, had to play out in order for it to survive and thrive.
Over time, I've realized that we are the same. Struggles develop our faith and character IF we understand that God is doing something in our lives. When we surrender the situation to Him, He will teach us powerful lessons - things no one can take away from us.
I know this about my own life. However, I sometimes forget that about my loved ones. My personality is that of a fixer - a rescuer. I want to protect them from pain. But, like the butterfly, that can be damaging. This week, I read something on a blog that really spoke to me on this point. I hope it will help you if you relate. This is powerful:
“I would have pulled Joseph out. Out of that pit. Out of that prison. Out of that pain. And I would have cheated nations out of the one God would use to deliver them from famine.
I would have pulled David out. Out of Saul’s spear-throwing presence. Out of the caves he hid away in. Out of the pain of rejection. And I would have cheated Israel out of a God-hearted king.
I would have pulled Esther out. Out of being snatched from her only family. Out of being placed in a position she never asked for. Out of the path of a vicious, power-hungry foe. And I would have cheated a people out of the woman God would use to save their very lives.
And I would have pulled Jesus off. Off of the cross. Off of the road that led to suffering and pain. Off of the path that would mean nakedness and beatings, nails and thorns. And I would have cheated the entire world out of a Savior. Out of salvation. Out of an eternity filled with no more suffering and no more pain.
And oh friend. I want to pull you out. I want to change your path. I want to stop your pain. But right now I know I would be wrong. I would be out of line. I would be cheating you and cheating the world out of so much good. Because God knows. He knows the good this pain will produce. He knows the beauty this hard will grow. He’s watching over you and keeping you even in the midst of this. And He’s promising you that you can trust Him. Even when it all feels like more than you can bear.
So instead of trying to pull you out, I’m lifting you up. I’m kneeling before the Father and I’m asking Him to give you strength. To give you hope. I’m asking Him to protect you and to move you when the time is right. I'm asking Him to help you stay prayerful and discerning. I'm asking Him how I can best love you and be a help to you. And I’m believing He’s going to use your life in powerful and beautiful ways. Ways that will leave your heart grateful and humbly thankful for this road you’ve been on.”
- Kimberly D. Henderson
I would add this: I would have probably chased after the prodigal son. Paid a detective to find him if I couldn't. Paid his bills, etc. Done everything to keep him from going through the painful lessons he needed to learn.
The prodigal's father didn't do any of those things. He waited. He waited in faith - looking down the road, expecting his son to come home.
His son had to suffer. Living in a pig pen is pretty low for a Jewish boy! But that suffering brought him to his senses. He went back to his father's house, and he didn't bring the pig pen home with him. He learned his lessons through the things he experienced.
I've learned mine, too. God's in the business of working with people to teach and shape them into His image. IF he needs my help with my loved ones, He'll let me know.