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We know the story of a man who tried to help a butterfly out of its cocoon by slitting it open. The butterfly died because it needed the struggle to survive. Sometimes God permits us to have difficulty. This happened years ago with ancient Israel. God gave them the Promised Land, but did not drive out all the wicked nations living there. We read in Judges 2 where God said, “I will no longer drive out the nations that Joshua left unconquered when he died. I did this to test Israel—to see whether they would follow the ways of the LORD as their ancestors did.” Israel’s cycle of sin, judgment, repentance, and deliverance is notable. The people would turn away from God, and God would judge them by permitting a nearby nation to oppress them. When the oppression became unbearable, the people cried out to the LORD for relief. God would show them mercy. He would raise up a leader to deliver them from their oppression. The people would obey God for a while—as long as that leader was alive. But as soon as he died, they turned back to their old ways. This happened repeatedly. God permitted trouble to refine their character. As it is with them, so it is with us. Even though God does not abandon us as He does this, He sometimes permits us to go through a trial–to refine our character. God knows that after we come through it, God is pleased and joy awaits us.

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