A man found a cocoon of an emperor moth. He took it home so that he could watch the moth come out of the cocoon.
On the day a small opening appeared, he sat and watched the moth for several hours as the moth struggled to force the body through that little hole. Then it seemed to stop making any progress. It appeared as if it had gotten as far as it could and it could go no farther. It just seemed to be stuck.
Then the man, in his kindness, decided to help the moth, so he took a pair of scissors and snipped off the remaining bit of the cocoon. The moth then emerged easily. But it had a swollen body and small, shriveled wings. The man continued to watch the moth because he expected that, at any moment, the wings would enlarge and expand to be able to support the body, which would contract in time.
Neither happened! In fact, the little moth spent the rest of its life crawling around with a swollen body and shriveled wings. It never was able to fly.
What the man in his kindness and haste did not understand was that the restricting cocoon and the struggle required for the moth to get through the tiny opening was the way of forcing fluid from the body of the moth into its wings so that it would be ready for flight once it achieved its freedom from the cocoon. Freedom and flight would only come after the struggle. By depriving the moth of a struggle, he deprived the moth of health.
Sometimes we make the mistake of cutting the spiritual cocoons of others.
There is a balance in helping other people. We are called to rescue the perishing (Proverbs 24:11), weep with those who weep (1 Corinthians 12:26), and help our brother in need (1 John 3:17-18). But at other times we interfere with God’s work, if we intervene (e.g. 2 Thessalonians 3:6-15).
There are some burdens we can’t and shouldn’t carry for others. If we take all the struggle away, we cut God’s spiritual cocoon. Addiction groups call it “enabling.”
In some cases, it is actually an unloving act to help people. When we help people who are able to help themselves, we are in fact “enabling” them to remain immature and weak. Instead we are to “speak the truth in love” to them (Ephesians 4:15,25; Matthew 18:15; Proverbs 9:8; Luke 17:3). Encourage them (1 Thessalonians 5:14). And pray for them (Ephesians 6:18). But when it is God’s plan, don’t be afraid to let people emerge from their cocoon to become the butterfly that God intended.
We also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out His love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom He has given us.
– Romans 5:3-5