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Chrysalis: A Place of Death and New Life

February 25, 2021 by Elizabeth Livingston (Maharashtra, India)

As a part of my son’s third grade curriculum, he was to learn about the life cycle of a butterfly. So the other day I was doing a bit of research on it so I could teach him in a better way. Even though I knew the four stages of a butterfly’s life cycle, I never done a detailed probe into learning much about butterflies. But in order to teach my son better, I first needed to understand it better.

As I searched for videos and pictures about the different stages of this tiny, beautiful creature, I was most fascinated with the third stage of its growth—the pupa, which is also called “chrysalis.” I already knew that a caterpillar remained in the pupa for few days to be transformed into an adult butterfly. But there’s another interesting part of this stage that I learned about in my research.

If you open the chrysalis in the middle of the process, there is just a sticky liquid substance in the place of the caterpillar that entered the chrysalis. In fact, during this stage the caterpillar’s old body dies and a new body begins to form. The caterpillar has to fall apart completely. And from this liquid state, it starts to put itself together to become the beautiful being it is designed to be.

Another amazing thing is the word chrysalis. It is derived from the Greek word for gold because of the golden threads which often surround the green of the chrysalis.

You have probably heard some spiritual messages about the chrysalis stage and how it represents the tough times of our lives, which are actually times of transformation for us. But often when we actually find ourselves in this phase in our lives, all we want is to come out of it. We often undervalue the crisis and suffering of life and assume that these things aren’t meant for Christians. We may ask God to remove the uncomfortable and ugly-looking shell of hardship and grief from our lives. But while we want God to change our circumstances, we may miss the opportunity for us to be changed. The deeper work within our souls takes place while we are in the chrysalis.

Our faith is strengthened in the chrysalis.

The most essential life lessons are learned in the chrysalis.

Our relationship with our Creator is deepened in the chrysalis.

The inessential parts of our character are shredded in the chrysalis.

And just as the caterpillar is made into a beautiful butterfly in this uncomfortable, dark, and inactive place, you and I are best prepared for the very purpose of our lives when we are in the chrysalis.

I don’t know which metamorphosis stage you are in at present. If you have got your wings, praise God. But if you find yourself stuck in the chrysalis—a place where you feel that nothing is happening, where you see the darkness of your pain and hardships, where you feel like you are falling apart each day, or where everything feels stuck, dead, and inactive—I encourage you to trust the process, surrender to it, embrace it, and wait until the process works its best. It is re-creating you into everything you are meant to be, giving you the glorious wings of your purpose and reflecting the majesty of your Heavenly Father.

No matter how your chrysalis feels, remember that it will be always covered with the golden threads of strength, assurance, love, and grace from your Master Designer. Trust that God will be with you throughout the process.

You might be interested to know that The Upper Room has a program called "Chrysalis." Chrysalis is designed for high school youth ages 15 to 18. At this age, young people are making major decisions about religion, lifestyle, vocation, and lifelong relationships. Chrysalis challenges them to grow not only in mind and body but also in spirit and faith. Learn more about Chrysalis here.

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The Upper Room magazine's mission is to provide a practical way to listen to scripture, connect with believers around the world, and spend time with God each day.

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