On Being Pruned
I find it incredibly painful to be pruned. To work so hard in my faith, to grow and produce fruit that will please my Father, only to experience something that knocks me off my feet. I have to think that's what Jesus meant in John 15:1-2.
"I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, so that it will be even more fruitful."
As a follower of Jesus, my King of Kings, I continually strive to remain close to Him in all things. And, of course, I fail miserably because I'm still a sinful and willfully disobedient child. But for the most part I attempt to live my life in a way that is pleasing to God, and will somehow further His kingdom.
Many times, during trials in my life, I find myself asking God why this is happening to me. What have I done to deserve this? Haven't I been good and faithful? (I promise, this is the part where God reminds me that my righteousness is still filthy rags and I can never be good enough.) And yes, I bear good fruit, offshoots from the true vine, Jesus Christ. But these verses in John remind me that even fruit-bearing vines must be pruned in order to become more fruitful.
It is all at once humbling and frustrating.
In order to be more fruitful, I must at times suffer setbacks. Looking back on trials, I know there are always blessings, and I come out on the other side stronger and better equipped. In these times I learn to be grateful I only suffer a pruning, rather than the complete separation others suffer. But hardships are never pleasant, despite knowing that it is for my own good. Yet through it all, my branch remains healthy, rooted in the living Vine.
So I encourage you to take comfort in your own pruning, fellow believers. Though excruciating, hardships strengthen us for the long haul, and equip us with the ability to bear more fruit for the good of God.