There was a season in my life where God was doing some major pruning - from my job, to ministry, to relationships and friendships. It came in different forms, this hacking off of branches within my life, from circumstances, to decisions of others, to close friends. This pruning came in unexpected ways, and it felt relentless, and I felt betrayed. It wasn’t like God was gently tapping me on the shoulder and saying, “Now this is going to hurt, but this is why I need to remove this…”
I felt shame, for that which once was a full thriving vine was now a stump.
And it hurt a lot…, and my faith was rocked as I asked God WHY?!, and tears flowed as the wounds bled.
I felt ugly, exposed and alone.
I turned to His Word, and read the popular verses in John 15: 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.
I was familiar with this, and understood the concept that in order to produce better and stronger fruits, such as the fruits of the spirit in my life, like love, joy, peace, pruning needed to take place, but, what I did not understand. - Why the pain? I kept reading in John 15 and verses jumped out at me.
This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.
Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friend. You are my friends if you do what I command.
You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit – fruit that will last – and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you. John 15: 8,13,14,16
God calls me His friend. God chose me. He is pruning me, so that I can bear greater lasting fruit. But…what about the pain!? This feeling of being an ugly stump left all alone? Why?
Then I re-read …Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friend. You are my friend… And I think about how there was a time in Jesus’ life where He felt betrayed due to circumstances, and the decisions of others, and from close friends.
He felt ugly, exposed and alone.
...Jesus cried out in a loud voice, "Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani? (which means "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" Mark 15: 34
Joy and pain go hand in hand to reveal God’s glory.
Why? It is a mystery.
The mystery that has been kept hidden for ages and generations, but is now disclosed to the Lord’s people. To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. Colossians 1:26-28
So my question of why does pruning hurt? Just as I participate in Christ’s pain, I receive joy in the revealing of His glory. Mysterious indeed, but I rest in that hope and wait for His glory to be revealed.
But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed. 1 Peter 4:13
- Sue Parrott