One of my favorite stories from the archives:
One day along his walk, a man found a cocoon of a butterfly. He was curious about it, and paused to look each day as he passed by the branch it hung from. Eventually, a small opening appeared. He decided to sit and observe it for several hours. He watched it struggle and struggle and struggle, trying to force its body through the little hole. Finally, it seemed to stop making any progress, and appeared as if it had gone as far as it could. It seemed exhausted, weary and unable to continue in its process.
The man felt compelled to help this little butterfly. He took a small pair of scissors and carefully snipped off the remaining portion of the cocoon. The butterfly emerged easily! As he sat and watched the butterfly, he noticed that its body was swollen, and its wings seemed small and shriveled.
He was certain at any moment the wings would enlarge and expand to be able to support its body. He expected the swollen abdomen to contract in size to enable the butterfly to get off the ground into the safety of the air. Neither happened. In fact, the butterfly spent the rest of its shortened life crawling around, unable to fly.
What the man, in his kindness and haste, did not understand was that the restricting cocoon and the struggle required for the butterfly to emerge through the tiny opening was a part of God’s plan. The “squeezing through” forced the fluid from the body of the butterfly into its wings so that they would expand, and be ready for flight. The time spent inside the cocoon was pre-determined, and needed to let the butterfly gradually adapt, rest and prepare itself for the final stages of its metamorphosis.
Sometimes struggles are exactly what we need in our lives. If God allowed us to go through our lives without any obstacles, it would cripple us in emotional and spiritual ways. We develop much strength and resiliency when we don’t emerge too quickly from our struggles. The time spent inside the cocoon enables us to gradually adapt, rest and prepares us for metamorphosis and change.
Irving Berlin wrote: “Life is 10% what you make it, and 90% how you take it.”
I asked for strength, God gave me difficulties to make me strong.
I asked for wisdom, God gave me problems to solve.
I asked for prosperity, God gave me brain and brawn to work.
I asked for courage, God gave me danger to overcome.
I asked for love, God gave me troubled people to help.
I asked for favors, God gave me opportunities.
I received nothing I thought I wanted, yet received everything I needed.