October 22, 2012

The Emperor Moth

About five years ago Lena and I were checking out a used book store near our trailer up north, when we came across this old copy of a devotional that we found to be quite a gem. It is a collation of devotions and tracts written by Spurgeon, Ryle, and many other authors not as well known. The theme of most of the devotions is how to deal with suffering and disappointments. Chas. E. Cowan was a missionary sent to Japan and Korea, but due to failing health he was compelled to return home where for six years "a battle was waged between life and death". This unexpected providence of God was difficult for them to process. They collected tracts, meditations and poems that were encouraging to them and shared them with others who were suffering. Here is one of them that was helpful to me.

Streams in the Desert
by Mrs. Chas. E. Cowan
Twenty - Second Edition, 1943

January 9
"For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that shall be revealed in us." (Romans 8:18)

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 imprisoned insect makes one wonder how the exit is ever accomplished at all - and it never is without great labour and difficulty. It is supposed that the pressure to which the moth's body is subjected in passing through such a narrow opening is a provision of nature for forcing the juices into the vessels of the wings, these being less developed at the period of emerging from the chrysalis than they are in other insects.

I happened to witness the first efforts of my prisoned moth to escape from its long confinement. During 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. Very probably the confining fibers were drier and less elastic than if the cocoon had been left all winter on its native heather, as nature meant it to be. At all events I thought I was wiser and more compassionate than its Maker, and I resolved to give it a helping hand. With the point of my scissors I snipped the confining threads to make the exit a little easier, and lo! Immediately, and with perfect ease, out crawled my moth dragging a large swollen body and little shrivelled wings. In vain I watched to see that marvellous process of expansion in which these silently and swiftly develop before one's eyes; and as I traced the exquisite spots and markings of divers colours which were all there in miniature, I longed to see these assume their due proportions and the creature to appear in all its perfect beauty, as it is, in truth, 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 through the air on rainbow wings.

Source: http://www.marslandmoths.co.uk/Latest/?p=3030

Source: http://www.marslandmoths.co.uk/Latest/?p=3030

Source: http://www.marslandmoths.co.uk/Latest/?p=3030

I have thought of it often, often, when watching with pitiful eyes those who were struggling with sorrow, suffering, and distress; and I would fain cut short the discipline and give deliverance. Short-sighted man! How know I that one of these pangs or groans could be spared? The far-sighted, perfect love that 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 chastises them that they may be partakers of His holiness. With this glorious end in view, He spares not for their crying. Made perfect through sufferings, as the Elder Brother was, the sons of God are trained up to obedience and brought to glory through much tribulation. - Tract


  1. Dear Mr. Westerink, Thank you for the continued effort you put into ministering to us all. I pray and think of you daily. Last night the kids and I finished reading "Little Pilgrim's Progress" and I thought of you as Christian was passing through the Dark River and walking up the little path to the gates and the Shining Ones were holding their hands and said, 'you will never be tired or sad anymore. You will have work to do for the King, but it will be easy and pleasant.' Pleading that our faithful Father will continue to uplift you through your journey. Ericka

  2. Thank you! Just what I needed to read.

  3. i love this, what a great word picture to put things into perspective...pray God we would all grasp this truth more....