I heard a wonderful story the other day and it helped me better understand why we have difficulties and even darkness in our lives. For a long time I falsely assumed that struggle or challenges were signs that my spiritual life was not in good shape or that maybe my recovery wasn’t good enough. I mean, we hear things like, “Fear and faith can’t exist at the same time.” Now I know just how silly that is. Of course they can.
But to that very point here’s the new story:
Every year the birds of Capistrano fly north. They leave the island and have to cross wide swaths of ocean to make the long journey. What ornithologists noticed was that before the swallows left they would pick up a twig and carry it with them. As they few over the ocean they carried these twigs in their mouths for hours.
It seemed crazy.
But what the bird experts learned was that the birds flew those long distances over the ocean and when they got tired they would drop the twig and rest on it. The twig floated so they rested then picked up the twig again and kept flying.
The very thing that seemed to make the journey difficult turned out to be the very thing that made the journey possible.
So too with darkness in our spiritual lives, with sadness, with challenges and with hard times. We are strengthened. Comfort comes from the Latin, confrontare—to strengthen—and we are strengthened.