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Parson to Person: God challenges us for a reason
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It always amazes me to see people who are so willing to accept the truth of anything written in print, with the one exception being the Bible. Though there is more evidence for the accuracy and authenticity of the various books of the Bible, many today feel compelled to accept the alternate texts of the Gnostic gospels, texts that have been proven to be bogus, while rejecting that which has proven to be genuine. Why is this?

I think that the answer to that "why" question has more to do with the implications that accepting Scripture as true would have upon us much more then it has with any intellectual persuasions or arguments.

Let's face it: the Bible says some things that are counter-intuitive. For instance it says "Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds," (James 1:2, NIV). That doesn't make much sense? Joy is suffering? What was James, the brother of Jesus, thinking when he wrote those words in 49 A.D.?

It seems Paul had a similar mental malfunction. He wrote, "Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope," (Romans 5:3-4, NIV). So much of Scripture is like this - it goes against what most of us might consider good common sense. So instead of adjusting our thoughts to comply with the Scripture, we adjust the Scriptures to comply with our thoughts, little realizing that such thinking is the very reason we suffer in the first place.

The story is told of a little boy who found a cocoon on the branch of a tree. He carefully removed the branch and took it home, where he placed it in a terrarium under a light for warmth. He checked the cocoon daily, and one day he noticed a small hole in it - the butterfly was emerging.

He watched with excitement as the butterfly began to force his body out of that little hole. The process took painstaking hours and there came a point where the butterfly seemed to give up - it could not it seemed make it through that little hole. At that point the boy decided to help.

He got a pair of scissors and very carefully snipped the hole to allow the butterfly to emerge. The butterfly, with swollen body and shriveled wings now easily emerged and sat on the branch. The boy waited expectantly for the wings to form and the new butterfly fly. It never happened. The wings never developed and all the butterfly could do was crawl pitifully around the terrarium.

What went wrong? What the boy, 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 way 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.

What both James and Paul understood that perhaps sometimes today we don't understand is that somehow in God's wisdom he uses struggles and trials in life to keep us from going through life shriveled and crippled. So the advice that seems ludicrous at first reading makes perfect sense when we bow to God's plan.

I don't know what struggle or difficulty you find yourself in as you read this article. But I do know this: God can and will use it to strengthen you and make you into the beautiful creature he created you to be if you will let him, if you will trust him.

Dr. John Pearrell is pastor of Gateway Community Church in Covington. He can be heard Thursdays on the radio on WMVV 90.7 (FM) at 8:30 p.m.