Some days ago, I stumbled across a story: There was a kind-hearted man who once saw a butterfly struggling to break out from the cocoon yet failed in all its attempts. Out of good intention, he took a pair of scissors and snipped off the cocoon. Though the butterfly finally emerged from the cocoon easily, it was unable to fly but could only crawl around in the rest of its life.
After reading this story, I couldn’t help but feel pity for the butterfly; though spared the painful process of emerging from the cocoon, it was incapable of flying in the rest of its life. Meanwhile, I also felt angry about the man’s behavior; he did an ignorant thing relying on his kindness, which, far from helping the butterfly, brought it to ruin. In fact, every living being has its own fixed environment and laws for survival which are predestined by God. For example, butterflies need to go through four stages of life—embryonic stage, larval stage, pupal stage, and adult stage, during which they grow up by themselves according to the law determined by God, not requiring the assistance of an external force. To emerge from the cocoon, they need to force their bodies through the little hole on cocoons. This process seems painful but is actually beneficial to them, because only through such a progress can their wings become strong enough to support the body and allow them to fly in the sky. In this story, the man’s kindness damaged the normal laws of the butterfly’s growth and ruined its life.
Aside from the pity for the butterfly, I thought of a wrong viewpoint of our belief in God: We always want to gain the Lord’s blessings in comfortable circumstances, and to be brought into the kingdom of heaven by Him without experiencing any trials or refinements. When our flesh underwent hardship because of illnesses, rather than reflect on ourselves to examine which of our actions didn’t conform to God’s will, we incessantly prayed to God and asked Him to treat our illnesses; when encountering difficulties, frustrations, and failures in our life and work, we felt dissatisfied and always tried to extricate ourselves from them, full of misunderstanding and blame toward God. In a word, when God arranged some environments which didn’t conform to our conceptions and required physical hardship, we would become negative, harbor resentment, and even lose faith in God.
Then why does God allow us to encounter hardships and suffering? Regarding this question, we should seek God’s will. The Bible says: “And I will bring the third part through the fire, and will refine them as silver is refined, and will try them as gold is tried: they shall call on my name, and I will hear them: I will say, It is my people: and they shall say, Jehovah is my God” (Zechariah 13:9). “For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, works for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory” (2 Corinthians 4:17). From these verses, we know that in the course of believing in God, various trials and refinements we encounter are one of the ways in which God perfects us; only through undergoing trials and refinements can we reverse our wrong viewpoint of belief, be cleansed of our corruption, and be saved and perfected by God. After experiencing them, we would gain some true knowledge of God and give rise to a God-fearing heart. So, trials and refinements are actually beneficial to us.
Then I thought of Moses. Leading an affluent life in the palace from childhood, he had a sense of righteousness, but was full of the flesh. To deal with his flesh, Jehovah God made him stay in the wild for forty years alone, during which he went through many difficulties by depending on and praying to God. His experiences made him see God’s almightiness and sovereignty and develop true faith in God. Having cast away his natural old disposition, Moses was used by God to lead the Israelites out of Egypt, and finally completed God’s commission. Job was another example. In his seventieth, he lost all his possession and children. During this major trial, he didn’t appear surprised or panic-stricken, nor did he complain against God; rather, he came before God and sought His will in prayer, saying, “Jehovah gave, and Jehovah has taken away; blessed be the name of Jehovah” (Job 1:21). Later, when his body became covered with sores, although he was in extreme pain, he would still rather curse the day of his birth than blame God. Because of Job’s fear of God and shunning of evil, he gave beautiful and resounding testimony to God. Through these two trials, Job’s heart of reverence for God was made perfect. Finally, he heard the personal utterance of God and gained blessings from Him.
Both Moses and Job gained more knowledge of God’s almightiness and sovereignty and had greater faith in God when experiencing trials arranged by God. In our life, God also arranges various environments to test us and refine us according to our ability to bear. His purpose is to make us develop true faith in Him, gain more knowledge of Him, and have more love for Him. Outwardly, we suffer pain in the environment arranged by God, but in fact, there is God’s love behind it. At these thoughts, I was deeply moved within.
The difficulties we encounter every day are the “cocoons” bestowed by God, which are what we need for our growth in life. The smart ones would choose to pray to and depend on God when facing them. Through difficulties, pains, and failure, we would receive benefits, have true knowledge of God, and finally obtain God’s praise. Viewed in this way, suffering is actually a form of God’s blessing. Now, do you understand God’s earnest consideration in trials and refinements?