“Every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it so that it may bear more fruit.” John 15:2
When we lived in Montevideo, MN we had some friends that decided they were going to surprise us while we were away at a conference by working on our yard. Included in their work was the pruning of our front bushes. When I first saw them I was shocked. Our once large, robust bushes looked like they were little, puny twigs stuck in the ground that were about to die. Fortunately one of the women saw my concern and assured me that this was actually a good thing, and that the pruning process was important for the bush. I took her word for it, but still thought that anyone passing by in the near future would be very unimpressed with our bushes.
Jesus said that if we please God by bearing fruit, God will prune us back, so that we will eventually bear more fruit. God always sees things from His eternal perspective. He sees our pain, but He still does what is best for the long term with, what seems to us, little regard for our short term comfort. As human beings we usually consider short term comfort before long term benefit, and can easily be offended that God doesn’t see it our way. “If God truly loved people then He would…” Our own ideas of what God’s love should look like can easily rob us of faith.
God’s end is to transform us into the image of His glorious Son. (Romans 8:29) He is firm in His purpose, so our lives will be a lot easier if we agree with His plan and try to work with it instead of resisting it. Hebrews 12:5 gives the two wrong responses to the pruning process called the Lord’s discipline:
- Don’t take it lightly – embrace God’s dealings with you and respond quickly. Blowing off conviction will only lead to God bringing the correction at a later time and usually in a bigger way.
- Don’t become discouraged – when life is hard we often conclude that God is angry with us or is somehow not pleased. Don’t jump to conclusions! Check your conscience, and if everything is clear then just trust that the God who delights in you is doing a little pruning so that your long term joy will be maximized.
Part of God’s plan is that we supply comfort to each other while they are being pruned. Let’s be sensitive, gentle, and loving to people who are going through difficulties knowing full well that we may need comfort from them tomorrow.