Perfect Through Suffering*

 •  3 min. read  •  grade level: 8
I kept, for nearly a year, the flask-shaped cocoon of an Emperor moth. It is very peculiar in its construction. A narrow opening is left in the neck of the flask, through which the perfect insect forces its way, so that a forsaken cocoon is as entire as one still tenanted, no rupture of the interlacing fibers having taken place.
The great disproportion between the means of egress and the size of the prisoned insect makes one wonder how the exit is ever accomplished at all, and it never is without great labor and difficulty. It is supposed that the pressure to which the moth's body is subjected in passing through the narrow opening is a provision of nature for forcing the juices into vessels of the wings, these being less developed at the period of emergence from the chrysalis than they are in other insects.
I happened to witness the first efforts of my imprisoned moth to escape from its long confinement. Nearly a whole forenoon, from time to time, I watched it patiently striving and struggling to get out. It never seemed able to get beyond a certain point, and at last my patience was exhausted. I thought I was wise and more compassionate than its Maker, and resolve to give it a helping hand.
With the points of my scissors I snipped the confining threads to make the exit just a very little easier, and lo! immediately, and with perfect ease, out crawled my moth, dragging a swollen body, and little shriveled wings. In vain I watched to see that marvelous progress of expansion in which the wings silently and swiftly develop before our eyes, and as I traced the exquisite spots and working of divers colors which were all there in miniature, I longed to see these assume their due proportions, and the creature appear in all its perfect beauty, as in truth it is one of the loveliest of its kind.
But I looked in vain; my false tenderness had proved its ruin. It never was anything but a stunted abortion, crawling painfully through that brief life which it should have spent flying the air on rainbow wings.
The lesson I got that day has often stood me in good stead. It has helped me to understand what has been called "the hardness of God's love." I have thought of it often when watching with pitiful eyes those who were struggling with sorrows, suffering, or distress, and it has seemed to me that I was more merciful than God, and I would fain have cut short the discipline, and given deliverance. Short-sighted fool! how know I that one of those pains and groans could be spared? The far-sighted, perfect love of God, which seeks the perfection of its object, does not weakly shrink from present transient suffering. Our Father's love is too true to be weak. Because He loves His children He chastens them, that they may be partakers of His holiness." With this glorious end in view, He spares not for their crying. "Made perfect through suffering," as Christ was, the sons of God are trained up to obedience, and brought to glory "through much tribulation."