I was in my second year of widowhood and I was struggling. Morning after morning my prayer life consisted of one daily sigh: “Lord, I shouldn’t be struggling like this!” “And why not?” His still, small voice asked me from within one morning.

Then the answer came—unrecognized pride! Somehow I had thought that a person of my spiritual maturity should be beyond such struggle. What a ridiculous thought, since I had never been a widow before and needed the freedom to be a true learner, even a struggling learner.

At the same time, I was reminded of the story of a man who took home a cocoon so he could watch the emperor moth emerge. As the moth struggled to get through the tiny opening, the man enlarged it with the snip of his scissors. The moth emerged easily—but its wings were shriveled. The struggle through the narrow opening is God’s way to force fluid from its body into its wings. The “merciful” snip, in reality, was cruel.

Hebrews 12 describes the Christian life as an effort that involves discipline, correction, and training in righteousness. Surely such a race could not be run without a holy striving against self and sin. Sometimes the struggle is exactly what we need.