Seasons of Suffering

“I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it, that it may bear more fruit.” John 15: 1-2

Earlier this week I did some work in my flower garden. I had a new pair of pruning shears, and I was ready to do some necessary trimming. In spite of an unusually mild winter, we had one night where the temperature dipped below freezing, and the leaves of my Oleander froze back. They needed to be trimmed back to make way for new growth.

And so I went to work. Being a girl with a very vivid imagination (something I never seem to have outgrown) I pictured Miss Oleander cringing when she saw me coming with those sharp, new shears. “Oh no. Here she comes again. She’s going to cut away with abandon, and it hurts. Why can’t she just leave me alone? I’m doing just fine without all that unnecessary pain.”

However, being just a bit wiser than my sweet little plant, I knew something she did not. The painful cutting she dreaded was exactly what she needed to grow stronger and more productive.

Jesus told us, He is the vine, we are the branches and the Father is the vine-dresser. He does the work of making us stronger more fruitful. He does it lovingly, knowing that it is in the very process of painful pruning that produces more fruit. Like my little plant I dread the pruning time. I wish things could just stay as they are. After all, I’m doing okay. I see fruit in my life. Why is it necessary to go through that painful process?

I have been through seasons of pruning. At the time I didn’t care a bit about bearing fruit or growing stronger; I just wanted it to be over. The Father, being so much wiser than this little “plant,” knows it is necessary work. He has something so much better in mind for me than the status quo. He takes the circumstances of my life and, no matter how they have come whether from Him, things of my own making or something outside myself, uses them to make me more like Jesus. He longs to bring me to a place of trust so that He can grow me stronger and healthier and then use me to bear fruit for His kingdom.

I am still a work in progress. I am still learning, but I have done a bit of growing too. I have learned more about my Father in those seasons of pruning than I could have possibly learned without them… He is faithful; He is love; He is my peace; He is good.

I heard an illustration about times of suffering once, and I have never forgotten it. A father brought his little boy to the doctor. He had a very bad ear infection, and it was necessary for the doctor to probe inside that very painful ear. That helpless little boy lay on the examining table, and the doctor asked his dad to hold him still. As the painful process began, that precious child looked into his father’s eyes with such tearful confusion. “Why are you hurting me Daddy?” they seemed to say. There was no way to explain to such a young child that this was all being done for his good. He only knew that his father was allowing him to go through a lot of pain.

So it is with me. There are some things I will never be able to understand this side of heaven, but I have a Father who loves me and only does those things which are for my benefit. I rest in that.



2 thoughts on “Seasons of Suffering

  1. Iris

    What a powerful message about sufferings. You are right; we don’t like to go through hard times, but we do get stronger through them.

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