Growing through struggles

From time to time we are all hit with some kind of hardship or struggle. Of course, for us all it is not the same… it can be health issues, financial issues, difficult relationships etc. Age doesn’t matter either I have sat and watched a toddler try and fit something sideways through an opening that they should approach straight on. Some will try over and over and over with little success. Eventually some succeed, others give up and yet others cry, some just move on to something else. Sometimes someone intervenes and does it for them.

As we get older we sometimes approach difficult situations the same ways… often we look for the way out of our difficult situation. How often have we cried why me GOD!!! Take this from me!!! The toddler who sticks to it and eventually turns things around learns something.

Often we want God to race in and immediately fix the problem… heal us… drop copious amounts of money in our laps or wake that other person up to see how wrong they are. Most times that isn’t how God works… yet I won’t put God in a box as He is free to work in any which way He wants. There are examples of both we see people instantly healed by Jesus. We also see Job lose everything wealth, family and his own health… God steps in and restores him to a better place then before he lost everything but he does not do it immediately. For years David (who becomes King David) is hunted down by Saul. David actually wrote, “How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me?” Psalm 13:1 God had not forgotten David and if you read his story you can see just how God was keeping him safe through that time.

I think it is normal to run from suffering of any kind, and perhaps unusual to embrace it but I am going to suggest that perhaps it is beneficial to embrace our struggles. I know some of you are probably thinking I have completely fallen of my rocker. After all Jesus did say He came to give us abundant life so why would I encourage you to embrace your hardships? Well, without getting into a theology debate I am not convinced that means a life here on earth without struggles.

How many of you are familiar with this story…

A man found a cocoon of an emperor moth. He took it home so that he could watch the moth come out of the cocoon. On that day a small opening appeared, he sat and watched the moth for several hours as the moth struggled to force the 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 farther. It just seemed to be stuck.
Then the man, in his kindness, decided to help the moth, so he took a pair of scissors and snipped off the remaining bit of the cocoon. The moth then emerged easily. But it had a swollen body and small, shriveled wings. The man continued to watch the moth 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 little moth spent the rest of its life crawling around with a swollen body and shriveled wings. It never was able to fly. What the man in his kindness and haste did not understand was that the restricting cocoon and the struggle required for the moth to get through the tiny opening was the way of forcing fluid from the body of the moth into its wings so that it would be ready for flight once it achieved its freedom from the cocoon. Freedom and flight would only come after the struggle. By depriving the moth of a struggle, he deprived the moth of health.
Sometimes struggles are exactly what we need in our life. If we were to go through our life without any obstacles, we would be crippled. We would not be as strong as what we could have been.

We think that we would be better off if we could just remove ourselves from our hardships but if we could do that we would miss out on the growth that comes from our struggles.

I think it was on the blog Bring the Rain that I read about someone visiting Ireland and they commented on the fact that it really is remarkably green. The Irish born host replied we get a lot of rain.

If we want the lush deepness then we need the rain. If it is all sunshine then eventually you are going to be standing on burned out dead grass. I’ll take the green grass and beautiful wings to soar on and believe me it will be abundant living.

Romans 5:3-4 says;

Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.

Funny, I feel like I am still developing perseverance and character yet I am walking in hope.

All of this said, please understand that not for a moment do I rejoice that Joel has cancer, I would do anything to take this from him, to not see him suffer. Of course, we pray for healing. What I do rejoice in is that God is in control, we are not alone, we are not forgotten, and there is hope. We know that there is a plan and a purpose. And through all of this there is growth.

Joel has had a lot of set backs and changes to deal with it hasn’t been easy yet even at the age of 4 he is definitely learning perseverance and I am seeing his character being formed through these challenges. Would he pick the easier path if he could, of course, I think we all would. Yet sometimes we find ourselves on a tough path and we find ourselves with a choice…am I going to sit down and cry why me?? Or are we going to embrace it and come out on the lush green side when all is said and done?

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