Wings Come With Struggle
"I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us" (Romans 8:18).
The following narrative from L.B. Cowman illustrates a perspective reflective of what is currently witnessed in much of the American culture of parenting that places an ultimate priority on maximizing the comfort and ease of children. One would expect to observe this approach from a person with a worldview that is secular and naturalistic. Without the Truth of the gospel, it is understandable that one might place the child’s happiness at the center of a parent’s focused attention. A Biblical approach to educating children should be different and should run counter to the naturalistic, humanist view of a child-centered focus.
As Christians, we must recognize that as parents and educators, we are given the privilege and responsibility to be adoptive parents to God’s image-bearers that are our responsibility for a brief second in the timeframe of eternity. Even our own genetically-connected personal children are His on loan to us to serve as guardians for a scarce brevity of time.
God-centeredness in child-rearing has unfortunately been hijacked by the humanistic view of child-centeredness, and it is prevalent in churched families, and it is one of the more difficult struggles faced at our school.
A make-my-child-happy approach is an action that denies the necessity of growing in character through experiences and the lessons that consequences and self-inflicted hardship can produce in the development of courage and integrity in their child.
Surprisingly to some, it is no contradiction to claim a perspective of the Grace of the Scripture that clings steadfastly to a belief that the allowance of consequences might perhaps be the most appropriate avenue in the development of virtue, grit, and integrity and provide an excellent opportunity to Godly counsel. There is likely no better platform in the life a young person than dealing with their own self-inflicted consequences while the youngster is under the daily counsel and guidance of the Christian home. Opportunities for teachable moments are a wealth of life lessons provided the adults are not fearful of youthful emotion that sometimes includes heartache and possibly even tears.
What is particularly interesting about Mrs. Cowman’s narrative included below is that its description of the struggles that are described are not due to misdeeds or a mistake that are an unnatural consequence, but instead they are a natural God-designed struggle. These struggles go beyond the scope of permission or omission and are actually an act of design of the created order that God, in His infinite wisdom, has prescribed for a natural and divine purpose.
Could it be that the resistance that life pitches one’s way and the circumstance of the struggles are divine preparations for the emotional and spiritual courage that imputes strength into a soul for use in not only worldly trials but in purposeful and beautifying function in this life and in all of eternity?
I once kept a bottle-shaped cocoon of an emperor moth for nearly one year. The cocoon was very strange in its construction. The neck of the “bottle” had a narrow opening through which the mature insect forces its way. Therefore the abandoned cocoon is as perfect as one still inhabited, with no tearing of the interwoven fibers having taken place. The great disparity between the size of the opening and the size of the imprisoned insect makes a person wonder how the moth ever exists at all. Of course, it is never accomplished without great labor and difficulty. It is believed the pressure to which the moth’s body is subjected when passing through such a narrow opening is nature’s way of forcing fluids into the wings, since they are less developed at the time of emerging from the cocoon than other insects.
I happened to witness the first efforts of my imprisoned moth to escape from its long confinement. All morning I watched it patiently striving and struggling to be free. It never seemed able to get beyond a certain point, and at last my patience was exhausted. The confining fibers were probably drier and less elastic than if the cocoon had been left all winter in its native habitat, as nature meant it to be. In any case, I thought I was wiser and more compassionate than its Maker, so I resolved to give it a helping hand. With the point of my scissors, I snipped the confining threads to make the exit just a little easier. Immediately and with perfect ease, my moth crawled out, dragging a huge swollen body with little shriveled wings! I watched in vain to see the marvelous process of expansion in which these wings would silently and swiftly develop before my eyes. As I examined the delicately beautiful spots and markings of various colors that were all there in miniature, I longed to see them assume their ultimate size. I looked for my moth, one of the loveliest of its kind, to appear in all its perfect beauty. But I looked in vain. My misplaced tenderness had proved to be its ruin. The moth suffered an aborted life, crawling painfully through its brief existence instead of flying through the air on rainbow wings.
I have thought of my moth often, especially when watching with tearful eyes those who were struggling with sorrow, suffering, and distress. My tendency would be to quickly alleviate the discipline and bring deliverance. O shortsighted person that I am! How do I know that one of these pains or groans should be relieved? The farsighted, perfect love that seeks the perfection of its object does not weakly shrink away from present, momentary suffering. Our Father’s love is too steadfast to be weak. Because He loves His children, He “disciplines us…that we may share in his holiness” (Heb. 12:10). With this glorious purpose in sight, He does not relieve our crying. Made perfect through suffering, as our Elder Brother was, we children of God are disciplined to make us obedient, and brought to glory through much tribulation.
(L.B. Cowman, 1926)
Have a blessed weekend!
Cowman, L.B. (1997). Streams in the desert (updated edition). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing.