By Glen Young
I once read about a science class in which the students were studying metamorphosis. They obtained a caterpillar cocoon to observe and study. The caterpillar had been in its cocoon for months. Then one day, with the aid of a stethoscope, the students heard the thumping of the butterfly struggling for its freedom.
The students, with excitement and meticulous care, cut open the end of the cocoon, allowing the caterpillar to crawl out. Sluggishly, it began to unfold misshapen wings that could not flutter as butterfly wings should. Oh, it attempted to move them many times, but they just wouldn't function properly. After some time, the poor butterfly died the death of a pathetic and paralyzed creature without the strength to survive.
What the students didn't realize, was that in their effort to help, they caused irreparable harm. When they freed the butterfly painlessly from its cocoon, they deprived it of the necessary struggle that would give force and cadence to its wings. They took away the very thing which would have developed its respiratory and circulatory systems and kindle its will to live. Their aid had caused the creature's demise.
James tells us, "Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything." James 1:2-4 (NIV).
The mature Christian is one who is formed in the crucible of trials. When there is no opposition to our faith, we become as misshapen and weak spiritually as the butterfly in our illustration was physically. How can we know that our faith will save us, unless it has been put to the test.
Peter warns us, "For let none of you suffer as a murderer, or a thief, or an evil-doer, or as a meddler in other men's matters: but if (a man suffer) as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God in this name." 1 Peter 4:15-16. Much of the whining heard today is because of suffering in our lives caused by our own sins. Peter says this ought not to be. And that when legitimate suffering comes because we are living the Christian life, we should hold our heads up and grow stronger from the experience.
I sometimes wonder what the outcome would be if Christians today had to suffer the physical persecution which Christians suffered in the first century. I am persuaded there would be many rotten apples lying under the tree after such a violent storm.
The butterfly in our illustration could not survive because it had not developed the strength necessary. Those Christians who have compromised the truth in an effort to avoid resistance and conflict with family and friends, will not be strong enough spiritually to survive the judgment of God.
Heaven is a prepared place for a prepared people. Are you preparing?