The caterpillar does all the work but the butterfly receives all the publicity. ~ Unknown
I’ve been fascinated by the butterfly lately (or the flutter-by, as I used to refer to it when My Three Sons were little).
Maybe you have heard the story of the young man who found a cocoon and sat down to watch the butterfly emerge. He could see the creature through the thin, silk-like material of the shell trying to break free, but to the young man, it seemed as if it were taking too long. The butterfly had worked and worked and didn’t seem to be making much progress, even after a couple of hours. He decided to help it along. He took out his Eagle Scout pocket knife with scissors (talk about being prepared) and cut an opening for the struggling insect. Immediately, the butterfly hobbled out, but its wings were wet and its body was swollen. The young man thought that, with a little time, the swelling would go down, the wings would dry and it would fly off like any other butterfly.
But it never did.
It spent the rest of its pitiful life in that shape for one reason: it needed to go through the struggle! Even though it seemed as if the butterfly was not making any progress, it was slowly getting rid of the liquid in his body. A caterpillar turns to all liquid before it morphs into a butterfly! During the struggle to exit the cocoon, it gets rid of that fluid, and while fighting to get free, it becomes strong and ready to fly.
Look at the changes and the complexity of the life of a butterfly BEFORE it is even born:
- The eggs are laid on plants that the caterpillars will actually eat later. The size of a pinhead, each egg contains one caterpillar.
- Next, the larva or caterpillar emerges and begins to eat immediately. But while it is eating, its skin gets tighter and then it will shed that skin and emerge with new skin. They change skin four times! When this hairy guy is finished growing it is about two inches long.
- Then it begins: the Chrysalis or Metamorphosis, which takes 7-10 days. It will find a safe place to rest and a silk thread will come out of a hole below its mouth from where it will spin a silk pad to attach to. It will hang from this pad and its skin will eventually split open, revealing the chrysalis or pupa.
- The coolest things are going on inside the chrysalis: it is becoming completely liquid to transform into a butterfly. The struggle begins as it pushes against that case opening and begins to fight its way out.
- Did you know that the life span of a Painted Lady Butterfly is only two weeks? Some butterflies can live up to a month and a few species survive up to a year. But most have a short life span. In that time period, it is busy. It has one goal: to lay its eggs so that the cycle can be repeated all over again.
- A butterfly coming out of its cocoon gains its strength, determination and fortitude all in the struggle! The butterfly pushes all the fluid out of its body and into its wings, enabling it to fly. Without the struggle, he would never get off the ground and would come out with a swollen body and wet wings. He would hobble around like that for the rest of his short life. And the beauty of this insect? Unsurpassed and marveled by all!
And there we are.
The struggle is real. Struggling through our days, weeks and years thinking we are making no progress; everything is just HARD! But we don’t realize that the struggles purify us, make us strong and give us wisdom and sensitivity to others around us. Tried in the fire, we burst forth as the beautiful creature God intends and touch others around us who are watching us through our struggle.
A friend said that God calls us to do hard things sometimes, but always prepares the way before us.
Sometimes we are like the butterfly inside the cocoon, but WE have the scissors and want to hurry the struggle along ourselves. We think we don’t need to go through a difficulty, or what we would call a trial, because we have done this before, been through this situation and we know how to handle it.
Sometimes we think we know what is best for us even more than the God who created us.
How can that be? Look at a few of these passages from the Word of God:
Romans 5:3-5. “Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.”
Rejoice in our sufferings, our struggles. Why? Because that struggle is producing something inside of us that is beautiful, defines our character and gives us hope. It makes us strong and full of wisdom, knowing that whatever we face, God is with us, and in the process, He is molding us and making us into vessels fit for the Kingdom.
There is purpose and strength in the struggle!
Is there more?
Yes! Romans 8:18. “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.”
And in James 1:12: “Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.”
We may struggle here: we might even feel like we are trapped in our cocoons forever and that God doesn’t hear us or doesn’t care. But we must be patient and determined to see what He wants us to learn in the struggle, in the difficulty, in the PUSH.
If God is calling you to do the hard things, He will give you the strength to persevere. He will fulfill all of His promises if we work through the difficulties, trusting in His Word.