The Wizard of Oz always was a favorite movie of mine, but it always bothered me at the end when Glenda told Dorothy she had what she needed to leave Oz all along...the ruby slippers.
Why did Glenda do that to Dorothy? Just think of all Dorothy could have avoided...the scary monkeys, the long journey, etc.
What if Glenda had simply told Dorothy those shoes are your one-way ticket out of here? Would Dorothy have stayed? Would she have stopped to help a brainless scarecrow, a heartless tin man and the cowardly lion? Probably not. Would she have made a choice that put her on a road to hardship, persecution, and danger even though she knew that she would save others and grow personally along the way? And if Dorothy had returned straight to Kansas, what was the point of the journey?
Just like a mother has to step back as her child is taking his first steps, Glenda stepped back. She knew Dorothy had to go through those hard places to become the Dorothy she should be. By taking that hard road she made some wonderful friends, and those difficult experiences made her grow personally.
Had she taken that easy way out, she would have been forever looking for that place “over the rainbow” and avoiding her fears. But by going there, by preserving, she learned that “somewhere over the rainbow” wasn’t a perfect place to escape from your problems. It was a place of growth.
There are other books like The Wizard of Oz with epic journeys, and in each one the protagonist returns a changed individual. In these books the “hero’s journey” is quite literal and we see it is through trials and tests that the characters bloom and grow.
All these books remind me of Job 23:10
But He knoweth the way that I take: when He hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold.
In life it is the hard times that help us to become stronger. Just as in life, adversity can make our characters stronger too. While it isn’t easy to make beloved characters suffer, we can take a cue from these journeys as well as from the lessons in the book of Job-- it isn't the good times forge character, it's the trials.