Devotional from Mike Smith
“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. If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.” James
This was always a hard verse for me. How can we consider it joy when we face trials of many kinds? When I was a newbeliever, I had many trials. People would try to encourage me, assuring me that the Lord loves me with verses such as Hebrews 12:6 – “because the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and he chastens everyone he accepts as his son.” I would often ask, “Couldn’t he love me a little less?”
On March 26, 2023, part of Paster Drew’s sermon involved an in depth look at the word “transformation” from Romans 12:2 – “Do not conform to the pattern of this world but be TRANSFORMED by the renewing of your mind. Then you be able to test and approve what God’s will is-His good, pleasing and perfect will.”
Paster Drew Preached, “The Key word is Transformed in this verse, as we’ve been talking about all throughout the series. It means transformed from within. He makes the contrast right there in the verse. It’s inner transformation versus outward conformity…. It’s the word we use as a caterpillar inside a cocoon who ultimately emerges as a butterfly. Now when the caterpillar is in that cocoon, he isn’t just in there re-arranging the parts of his body, he actually releases enzymes that turn into this soup like substance…and these cells re-arrange into a new creation….And after a few weeks, it nibbles a hole in the cocoon, and out comes a butterfly. And without any training, it is able to fly.”
It’s the nibbling of the cocoon where even more greatness happens. The emergence from the cocoon is a struggle for this new creation. It has been described as grueling, painful, and even looks like near death. There is a story of a man who was watching this struggle and helped the butterfly by cutting the cocoon and the butterfly fell out. The man continued to watch, hoping that, at any moment, the butterfly would open its wings and fly away. Nothing happened; in fact, the butterfly spent the rest of its brief life dragging around its shrunken body and shriveled wings, incapable of flight.
What the man – out of kindness and his eagerness to help – had failed to understand was that the tight cocoon and the efforts that the butterfly had to make in order to squeeze out of that tiny hole were Nature’s way of training the butterfly and of strengthening its wings.
Sometimes, a little extra effort is precisely what prepares us for the next obstacle to be faced. Anyone who refuses to make that effort, or gets the wrong sort of help, is left unprepared to fight the next battle and never manages to fly.
Where are you today? Are you indeed the butterfly? Or perhaps you are struggling to get out of the cocoon? I want to encourage you today, that wherever you are and however you may feel, you are right where you are supposed to be. The struggles of life are very real. But I can testify that the plans of the Lord are good. Whatever you may be experiencing, something bigger and more beautiful is awaiting you on the other side of the struggle.