Have you ever wondered why God allows adversity in the life of His children? Most of us, who are parents, would rescue our children from adversity if we had the power to do so. God certainly has the power, but He doesn’t always choose to use it. His children are often called upon to endure trials and tribulation. In fact, His word tells us that we can expect trials in this life. The writer of James records these words: “Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing” James1:3, 4 NASB).
Have you ever attempted to convince your children that their trials should be counted as joy? For that matter, have you ever attempted to convince yourself? It is a hard sell. The following illustration from the animal kingdom may help add clarity to why suffering can be for our good.
“A little boy watched an emperor butterfly emerge from its cocoon. Now, this process is painful to observe. The cocoon has a little opening at the end and the butterfly has to squeeze out of it. It is a terrible struggle. It pushes and squeezes so hard that one can actually see its body pulsating and quivering from exhaustion. And the progress is so slow-the butterfly pushes and rests, pushes and rests. Finally, it pulls itself together for one last momentous push and its out-drained and sapped of energy, but ready to fly. As this little boy watched the emperor butterfly struggle, he felt sorry for it and decided to do it a favor. He very carefully took his pocketknife and slit the opening in the cocoon just a little bit wider to make it easy for the poor little creature to emerge. He thought he was sparing the butterfly trial and suffering. What he did, however, kept the butterfly from ever reaching its potential. He ruined the butterfly! That squeezing and pushing is necessary and vital because that pressure serves to push blood and body fluids into the wings. Because the butterfly did not go throughout the struggle, its wings were useless. It could never fly!” (The Communicator’s Commentary on Deuteronomy, p.152)
Our heavenly Father takes no joy in the trials His children must endure, but He realizes that a certain amount of trial is needed to help them grow strong. He knows each one of them personally and He knows just the amount of struggle they need to prepare them for the life that is ahead of them. Without any adversity, they would never grow to their full potential. As earthly parents, one thing seems to be certain. We don’t need to rescue our children from every predicament in which they find themselves. If we do, we aren’t doing them any favors, but we are preventing them from reaching their full potential. On the other hand, we do need to pray that we would have the wisdom to know when to intervene on their behalf and when we need to let them grow through struggle.