When you stretch by "pushing it," your muscles will instead contract, resisting the lengthening, which can cause pain or even injury. More flexibility comes from refraining from the urge to resist the stretch, and instead, "letting go," allowing the muscle to "relax into it."
Likewise, if you are drowning, and a life guard swims out to save you, if you continue to panic and struggle, you most probably will drown both of you. If you relax, stop struggling, and trust the life guard, allowing him to carry you to shore, you will most likely live to see many more days.
The same is true in the spiritual realm.
I do not believe God sends evil to "test" or "punish" anyone. In fact, knowing Him as I do, I know He doesn't send evil - period. But when evil comes upon us in any form, we have the ability to choose how we will respond to it.
If we resist it with panic, anxiety, anger, bitterness, vengefulness, or self-pity, we allow it to envelop us, define us, cause us to be brittle and broken, and drown us.
We can choose to instead embrace the painful challenge, observe it, relax into it, learn from it; we become stronger, more trusting swimmers, better prepared when the currents are next against us; more resilient, more flexible, more wise. And more compassionate when we see others struggling and drowning.
One choice will make us small. Imprisoned in the past, effecting only ourselves, and allowing the bitter poison of hate and anger eat us alive from the inside out, causing us to implode. Allowing the evil to "win."
The other choice will make our life ginormous, truly living a vibrant life in the present, with a radiant light of forgiveness, unconditional love, relaxed joy, peace, gentleness, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, and self-control, regardless of the challenge we are currently facing. Effecting and affecting all those around us, now and in the future, like the ripples from a pebble thrown in a glass-smooth pond, in ways and in numbers we will never know. Allowing God's glorious love to "win."
I am learning to stop struggling, stop resisting; to let go, to let God stretch me into a healthier, more flexible, resilient person; allowing Him to carry me to the shore to teach me to be a more trusting swimmer - while also teaching me to be stronger and more flexible, more prepared for the next challenge. Maybe I can help Him carry someone else back to shore some day.
I would love the company, if you would like to stretch and swim along with me.
Blessed are the flexible, for they shall not be broken...