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Thinking of God with Larry Sheehy
Struggle can be a good thing
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    If we had our way about it, likely none of us would choose the unpleasant paths of life; rather we would choose the easy road, where the ground is smooth and straight, and the paths clearly marked.  Consider that the first inclination of parents, when given the choice, is usually ... and understandably ... to help their children avoid hardship whenever possible.  
    However, life doesn’t always give us a choice.  Sometimes the way is hard.  It may be because of wrong choices made, or “just because that’s the ways things are.”  Whatever the case, we need to learn that having to endure struggle isn’t all bad.  This popular story, by “Author Unknown,” illustrates the lesson.
    A man found a cocoon of a butterfly. One day a small opening appeared. He sat and watched the butterfly for several hours as it struggled to force its body through that little hole.
    Then it seemed to stop making any progress. It appeared as if it had gotten as far as it could and it could go no farther. The man decided to help the butterfly, so he took a pair of scissors and snipped off the remaining bit of the cocoon.
    The butterfly then emerged easily. But it had a swollen body and small, shriveled wings.
    The man continued to watch the butterfly because he expected that, at any moment, the wings would enlarge and expand to be able to support the body, which would contract in time.
    But neither happened! In fact, the butterfly spent the rest of its life crawling around with a swollen body and shriveled wings.
    And it was never able to fly.
    What the man in his kindness and haste did not understand was that the restricting cocoon and the struggle required for the butterfly to get through the tiny opening were God's ways of forcing fluid from the body of the butterfly into its wings so that it would be ready for flight once it achieved its freedom from the cocoon.
    It’s often the same with humans. Sometimes struggles are exactly what we need in life. If God allowed us to go from day to day, year after year, without any obstacles, it would cripple us.
    We wouldn’t be nearly as strong as we might have been.
    And we could never fly. ...
    Every storm has potential for both good and bad.  It will provide needed moisture for some, but it may also bring floods.  Truly, “every cloud has a silver lining.”  But we have to be “thinking of God” to fully realize the storm’s beauty and benefits.
    When you pray, rather than asking God to keep the difficulty out of your life, ask him to help you see his providence, and to grow because you’ve experienced the blessedness of struggle.
    Larry Sheehy is an elder and pulpit minister at Statesboro Church of Christ. He can be reached at (912) 764-5269.
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