When you think of a butterfly, you think of a delicate insect with beautiful wings that are easily damaged. However, when a butterfly emerges from its cocoon, it struggles until it breaks through the chrysalis, forming a hole and squeezing its body through. Through that immense effort, working through the cocoon develops fortitude and strengthens its wings. Pushing through the hole squeezes the fluid from its body into its wings slimming down the body and inflating the wings. The butterfly is meant to struggle; it needs the struggle to forge it into a complete and functioning butterfly.
Often, we find ourselves at our best place after we’ve gone through a struggle. Authors understand the concept of the hero’s journey — a basic storytelling method about ordinary people who become heroes (or quest conquerors or victors or whatever). Think Percy Jackson, Harry Potter, Luke Skywalker, Neo (The Matrix).
There are several parts to the three-act story of the hero’s journey. You can see them on the attached diagram:
In order for the hero to return back to his ordinary world, he needs to be transformed through tests, allies, and enemies and also through an ordeal.
Those tests and ordeals are the struggle that transform the plain ordinary into the heroic.
James 1:2-4 says: 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.
Our trials produce perseverance which matures and completes us! I know it’s hard to see in the midst of the conflict, the tests, the ordeals, that we will be better on the other side, more complete, not lacking anything.
If this is where you are now, take heart my friends. God has you in the palm of His hand. No matter what the struggle, He won’t leave us. Isaiah 41:10 says: So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
I saw a meme the other day that said this: On my worst days, I remember that my track record for getting through the bad days is 100%, and those are pretty good statistics.
Like the butterfly, we need to struggle and squeeze through, because that’s what will develop our spirit and make us strong. Like the hero in the hero’s journey, we need to face those trials and ordeals so that we can be victors.