Many of us are going through some big challenges and struggles in our lives right now. It may have to do with your family, your finances, your employment, your children, your health, or even a combination of things. But those challenges are there for specific reasons. To make us grow. It may not seem like it now, but the Lord knows what we’re going through. He knows our pain, our concern, and our frustration. He also knows how – and when – we’re going to come out on the other side.
Coming through that struggle makes us stronger. Without that challenge, without that struggle, we think we’d be much better off. But would we really? If everything in life were easy, where would we really be?
Several years ago our family went to Aruba and visited the Butterfly Farm. There were beautiful butterflies flying around everywhere. Moving quickly and never staying in one spot very long. Butterflies have no set flight pattern. They just fly from place to place, wherever the spirit leads them.
There were a couple of boxes there with things hanging in them, in different shades of green and brown. One green one had a thread of gold at the top. Our guide explained they were chrysalises and cocoons, which would turn into butterflies. He even took several of them out and explained what kind of butterfly each would become.
I found myself remembering the story of a man watching a butterfly come out of its cocoon. It was struggling, and trying so hard to come out of the cocoon that bound it. The man thought he would help the butterfly, so he cut a hole in the wall of the cocoon so it could get out easier.
The butterfly came out, with this huge body and underdeveloped wings. But the butterfly died. What happened? Well, the man thought he was helping the butterfly so it wouldn’t have to struggle, but in reality, the butterfly NEEDED to struggle against the cocoon to get out in order to gain strength. As a butterfly emerges from its cocoon, fluids are pumped through the butterfly’s body and wings, which causes the right development so it can fly! After the struggle it rests for a little while, while the wings dry, and it flies off.
The butterfly was imprisoned in that cocoon, and through struggle, it emerged in the form of something beautiful that could fly and soar to the sky. But without that struggle, as it was helped out by a well- meaning individual, it didn’t get the trials and the experience of overcoming, and it wasn’t able to fully survive.
This is not saying we aren’t to help each other. But some struggles we just have to walk through. But we’re never alone, because God is there with us, watching, ready to help in a way He knows is just right.
When the world seems like it’s closing in, it’s easy to put ourselves in a cocoon, hidden away from all our problems. But if we don’t struggle to get out of that cocoon, we will never come out to become the beautiful person God intended us to be. If we just sit around and give up and stay in our cocoon, we die, just like the butterfly would do.
Butterflies don’t spin a chrysalis; when the caterpillar sheds its skin for the final time, all that is left is something called a pupa, which hardens to form the chrysalis, which protects and hides that transformation that is waiting inside.
It reminds me of how we are when we are when we reach our limit in a situation. There’s nothing left inside of us. We can’t put up with anything else. We’re done. So our shell hardens and forms that cocoon/chrysalis, which protects what we are waiting to become while we’re still inside that shell.
Ecclesiastes 3:11 – “He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end.”
God designed the butterfly to have to struggle to grow and become beautiful, and He designed us the same way. A butterfly doesn’t start out beautiful, at least not what we think of as beautiful. But it’s all in the eyes of the beholder. The Lord sees us all as beautiful; we just don’t always see ourselves that way.
We cannot begin to fathom how God will ever make something beautiful out of the messes we find ourselves in. But He leads us through those messes, even when we don’t think we can make it. Each step is a struggle. We don’t have a clue in the world how we’ll get through it, and we want somebody, anybody, to just get us out of it. The easy way, of course.
But if God did it that way, we wouldn’t grow. Sure, we need people to help us through tough times, but as much as we want them to just pull us through, and “make it go away”, we know that unless God decides to do a quick, creative miracle, and we know He can, it doesn’t always work that way. Instead He places people around us who can help us through those tough spots. Not pull us through without a struggle, but give us encouragement.
And He watches us, His new butterfly, struggling to come out of the chrysalis. As we emerge, He smiles. Because He sees that new beauty He knew was there all the time. He watches as we rest, and prepare for flight. And He smiles. Because we’ve learned, and we’ve overcome!
What type of butterfly are you becoming?