– Harriet Beecher Stowe
Strength in the Struggle
If you help a butterfly out of its cocoon, it will die. Why? Because it takes time for the butterfly to develop enough strength in its wings so that it can fly when it leaves the cocoon. If someone helps it out and emerges it from the cocoon, it will be so weak that it will drop straight to the ground and likely be eaten by other insects. Just like trees grow most rapidly during strong winds, so does the Christian grow in his faith when he never gives up. There is strength found in the struggle, but the greatest strength is never giving up, especially if you know it’s what God’s called you to do.
Just One More Mile
When Jesus was telling His disciples they must go the extra mile, they knew what He was talking about. The Roman occupying forces could demand any citizen, Jew or Gentile, to help them carry something for at least one mile. So Jesus said, “If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles” (Matthew 5:41). That is radical because the Jews hated the Roman occupiers, and the last thing they ever wanted to do was help the enemy. By Jesus saying this, they knew that going that extra mile might be a burdensome load and going above and beyond what was expected, but to Jesus it didn’t matter. He had just told them, “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” (Matthew 5:44), so this shouldn’t have shocked them.
At a Time Unexpected
Just as Jesus said, “Concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only. For as were the days of Noah, so will be the coming of the Son of Man” (Matthew 24:36-27), with “that day and hour” meaning the day of His return to judge the world in righteousness. Just as the Son of Man will come when no one expects Him, God will answer our prayers when it seems least likely. Just when we’re not expecting it, God will sometimes answer us when we’ve even given up praying about something.
Good From Evil
If Joseph had not been thrown into a pit to die, his brothers wouldn’t have sold him to slave traders. If Joseph hadn’t been sold to slave traders, he wouldn’t have been sold to Potiphar’s household. If Joseph hadn’t been sold to Potiphar’s household, he wouldn’t have been unfairly accused and thrown into prison. If Joseph hadn’t been unfairly accused and thrown into prison, he wouldn’t have interpreted the two prisoners’ dreams. If Joseph hadn’t interpreted the two men’s dreams, he wouldn’t have had a chance to interpret Pharaoh’s dream. If he hadn’t interpreted Pharaoh’s dream, he wouldn’t have been put as second in command of all of Egypt. And if not for that, the great seven-year famine that came would have caused millions to die. So when Joseph finally saw his brothers, he said, “You meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today” (Genesia 50:20). Joseph didn’t deny that what they did was evil, but he shows that God can even use evil for good. Just look at the cross.
I pray I helped you see that we should never give up, for that is just the place and time the tide will turn and we’ll miss the chance to grow stronger in the storm, we’ll miss the chance to be a light to the world, we’ll miss having an answered prayer just when it is so close, and we’ll miss the chance to know that God can use evil for our own good (Genesis 50:20, Romans 8:28).