July 21 I Wednesday
“Being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” —Philippians 1:6
What is our reaction when we encounter hardships? Do we complain to God and demand that He takes it away? Or do we turn our frustration into delight, because we know that God has a purpose for putting us through our circumstances?
James encourages us, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything” (James 1:2-4). As we persevere through trials, the end result is that we are made mature, becoming complete and lacking nothing.
There once was a schoolgirl who took a caterpillar home, put it into a jar and waited for it to become a butterfly. In the course of time, the caterpillar became a cocoon and hung there for some days. One day, the girl saw movement in the cocoon—the butterfly was ready to emerge. She saw a little opening with the butterfly pushing and struggling in the cocoon. The girl wanted to help, so she took a knife and very carefully cut where it had already begun to open. She made an opening so that the butterfly could easily emerge, but when the anticipated moment came for the butterfly to reveal itself, it had two withered, shriveled and useless wings hanging by its side. The butterfly could not fly. Why? Because the struggle to break out of the cocoon was a process designed to strengthen the muscles of the wings, so when the butterfly emerged, it could fly. But this one was sentenced to walk around on the ground and never reach its full potential.
There is a strengthening that comes through difficult times. We learn things by experience in the hard times what we only learn theoretically in the good times. God permits us to go through them; in fact, He initiates that we go through them. Even His Son, Jesus, had to endure hardship when He was a man: “Son though He was, He learned obedience from what He suffered and, once made perfect, He became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey Him...” (Hebrews 5:8-9).
God allows us to go through tough and difficult times so that we may emerge strong, not by our own strength, but as we discover our resources in Him. The author of Hebrews tell us, “Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as His children (Hebrews 12:7).” We can find delight as we endure hardship, recognizing that God is strengthening and refining us through the circumstances we face.
Prayer: Heavenly Father, as difficult as it is to endure hardship, I believe that You have a greater purpose through what You are putting me through. Thank You in advance for growing my faith and perseverance in You.