Don’t reject the struggles in life – they might just be saving your life!

“What are you talking about Matt?” I hear you ask. Fair question. Let me explain.

Some years back, I went through a very difficult personal storm. It would be NO exaggeration to say that those years were the toughest I’ve ever faced.

Throughout those difficult years, I repeatedly – and what might’ve seemed ‘coincidentally’ – kept seeing butterflies. It was crazy!

It all began, in what was the darkest week of my life when I felt like I had lost all hope and peace. I remember pouring out my heart to a close friend one evening when suddenly he leaned forward and asked me “What’s that on your shoulder?” I looked down, and to my utter surprise, there was the most beautiful butterfly resting on my shoulder.

And so it began, I just kept seeing butterflies around me (for years to come) – and not just when I was in the UK but also on overseas mission trips. It was mad – and wonderfully encouraging.

Why encouraging?

Because butterflies are a great reminder of the pain and wonder of transformation. I’ve discovered that it’s often in the struggles of life that God does His greatest transformative work in our hearts and lives – if we keep holding on to Him.

In Romans 12:2, the Apostle Paul writes these words…

“Don’t copy the behaviour and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.”

Now this word ‘transform’ is the Greek word metamorphoo, from where we get the English word metamorphosis – and metamorphosis is all about transformation.

And the thing we have to remember about transformation – it’s that it takes time and it’s not easy. Which brings us back to the butterfly.

When a caterpillar is fully grown it forms a chrysalis – a cocoon. If you looked at the cocoon from the outside it wouldn’t seem like much was happening. But something incredible is happening. Metamorphosis!

Caterpillars are short, stubby and have no wings. But within the chrysalis, the old caterpillar body is changing into something completely new – something wonderful – something beautiful – something colourful – something that will eventually fly – but it takes time.

There comes a point in this metamorphosis where the butterfly has got to break out of the cocoon. That’s when it gets really tough. Because the chrysalis is tough to break out of – it’s like it wants to keep the new life stuck inside.

But slowly, the new life – the butterfly – breaks out of the chrysalis – and the pressure of breaking out of the chrysalis – which feels so hard – is actually squeezing the moisture out of the wings of the butterfly so that it will indeed fly.

Transformation is never easy – there’s a waiting, there’s a squeezing, there’s a persevering, there’s pushing through – so that the new can fully come. But the struggle is worth it!

So if you’re feeling like you’re in the midst of a struggle right now – if life is extremely tough – then I have a great reminder for you…and it’s fresh from my own personal experience and story…

God is not distant from you – He’s at work in the midst of the struggle. It’s not His will that you suffer, but in His loving kindness – as we choose to surrender to Him every day – He is able to work through the struggle to bring something beautiful in and through our lives. Ultimately that we would become more like Jesus – more free, healed and whole.

I share this with you this month because when I was speaking at YWAM in September I noticed a large Bible open at the front of the chapel. As I walked over to it – you’ll never guess? – a butterfly flew in and landed on the pages. See the evidence in this photo. It was like another nudge from Heaven reminding me, “Matt, I’m always at work in you – making you better, not bitter. Making you, not breaking you. Through the word of God, by the Spirit of God, as I daily surrender to God.”

I pray that you will find the wonder of God at work in your struggle. May He keep you, strengthen you, and give you peace in your present and hope for your future. Amen.