Butterfly Struggles


“Temptations try us; and we are worth nothing if we are not tried.”

That was Hannah Whitall Smith’s take on temptation. She went on to say that our struggles against sin would develop strength and courage, keeping us from spiritual shallowness. She based her thoughts on this verse: Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him” (James 1:12).

Hannah, sure that the “crown of life” would be worth all the trouble of the trials, likened our struggles to the birth of a butterfly:

An invalid lady, confined to her home, procured the chrysalis of a beautiful butterfly. She hoped to have the pleasure of seeing the monarch mature and its magnificent wings develop. She kept careful watch over it as spring approached, and finally was delighted to see the butterfly beginning to emerge. It seemed to have great difficulty making its way out of the cocoon-like structure. It pushed, strained, and struggled, seeming to make so little headway that she concluded it must need some help. Finally, with a pair of delicate scissors, she clipped the silken cord that seemed to bind the opening. The butterfly escaped immediately without any further struggle.

The well-meaning woman congratulated herself on the success of her experiment, but quickly discovered that something was wrong with the butterfly. It was free, but its great wings were lifeless and colorless, dragging after it as a useless burden. For a few days it lived a miserable sickly life. Then it died without having once lifted its powerless wings. The lady was deeply disappointed, unable to understand what had happened. When she related the circumstance to a naturalist, he told her she was the cause of the problem, for the butterfly’s very life depended upon the struggle she had prevented. The pushing and struggling were needed in order to send life-giving fluid into the veins of the wings.

In a similar manner, our spiritual wings are strengthened by the struggle and effort of our conflicts with temptation and trial.

Struggling today? May the Lord use every difficulty to deepen you, strengthen you, and bring you closer to him.

(This post is an edited excerpt from The Christian’s Secret of a Happy Life, and thanks for the photo, Mark!)




2 thoughts on “Butterfly Struggles

  1. Hannah Whitehall is one of my favorite. I have a devotional book titled Joy and Strength which often features her writings. This is one of my favorite. Thanks for your take on it; beautifully written.

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