Last night, as we knelt to pray by our desks, I was surprised to see a little army of ants hard at work. One little ant in particular caught my eye. He was scooting a relatively huge crumb across the floor, making pretty good progress, until he reached an obstacle: An intimidating piece of navy blue thread. I watched as he tried to move the crumb a different direction, but the thread was directly across his path; so although he tried over and over again, he never went far enough to make it all the way around the thread. I was tempted to move it for him, but I knew if I did, he would never learn to solve the problem on his own. He left and came back with another ant, and together they tried to push the crumb over or through the thread, but to no avail. They scuttled away, and I stopped paying attention as we commenced our nightly planning.
A few minutes later, I noticed my little friend was back. This time, he approached the piece of thread from the opposite direction, discovering a place where it was propped up like a little bridge. He crossed under, went and got his crumb, and triumphantly carried it under the bridge. I then observed as he determinedly attempted to take this great big crumb in between the floorboards. Even at the widest space of the floorboards, it wasn’t wide enough for the ant AND his prize to fit inside. Again, he pushed the crumb along, attempting from different angles and different positions. I was so tempted to reach down and break the crumb up for him so he could take it in pieces, but what if he thought I was trying to hurt him? What if he didn’t come back for the remainder of the bits? If I jumped in, I wouldn’t have allowed him the opportunity to solve the problem himself so that he would know what to do next time.
As my roomate, Sister Crook, was teasing me for being so fascinated by this little drama, she also pointed out the lesson in it: How often does our Heavenly Father watch us with compassion, knowing He could easily solve our problems for us? How difficult is it for him to see us suffer unnecessarily? Have we ever misinterpreted His help, thinking that He is hurting us when He is really trying to make us stronger?