Are struggles always something to avoid or are they a necessary part of growing?

A man found a cocoon of a butterfly. One day a small opening appeared. He sat and watched the butterfly for several hours as it struggled to force its body through that little hole. Then it seemed to stop making any progress. It appeared as if it had gotten as far as it could and it could go no further. So, the man decided to help the butterfly. He took a pair of scissors and snipped off the remaining bit of the cocoon. The butterfly then emerged easily. But, it had a swollen body and small, shriveled wings.

The man continued to watch the butterfly because he expected that, at any moment, the wings would enlarge and expand to be able to support the body, which would contract in time. Neither happened! In fact, the butterfly spent the rest of its life crawling around with a swollen body and shriveled wings. It never was able to fly.

How do we view the struggles in our own lives? Are they always something to be avoided? If we have a child who has used up all his/her money and then wants to go to the movie with friends, what is the most growth producing response from a parent? Parental training is lacking these days, and most would miss the opportunity to help their child by allowing the consequence, and just give them money. If a young couple purchased an expensive car and now cannot make the payments, what is the most helpful response? If I can’t pay my electric bill, should my church take care of it for me? There are always exceptions and special circumstances, but if you study your Bible you’ll find that even when God intervened in someone’s lives, He did not spare them from temporal consequences. He knows well how people learn…by struggle.

"It doesn’t matter if you’re on the right track; if you’re sitting still, you’ll get run over."

Will Rogers

A world-class athlete has to go through years of struggle and rigorous daily training to ever be competitive. Any respected musician has spent hours and hours of making mistakes before finding the notes that create a beautiful sound. Can we recognize the valuable training that is taking place in the struggles of our daily lives? The Tartar tribes of central Asia had a certain curse they used against their enemies. It was not that their houses would burn or that they would contract a disease. Rather they would say, "May you stay in one place forever." If we don’t see the maturing value of our struggles, that could be our fate.

What the man in the opening story above, in his kindness and haste, did not understand, was that the restricting cocoon and the struggle required for the butterfly to get through the tiny opening was God's way of forcing fluid from the body of the butterfly into its wings, so that it would be ready for flight once it achieved its freedom from the cocoon. 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. We would not be as strong as what we could have been. We could never fly!

From the Bible:

"I know your tribulation and poverty, yet you are rich…..Don’t be afraid of what you are about to suffer…..Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life." Revelation 2: 9-10 (HCSB)

Direction for Today:

Can you recall a time when you felt like you wanted relief from a tough situation? Did the struggle teach you something important?


Dan Miller is President of The Business Source, founder of "48 Days" and author of 48 Days To The Work You Love and 48 Days To Creative Income. He is the growing authority for creating effective life plans that are achieved by integrating natural gifts, unique personality traits and one's own values and passions. His unique clarification of how God gifts us will introduce you to a new sense of freedom and fulfillment of your life's calling. For more information, visit http://www.48days.com/.