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 so that it may bear more fruit.
Let’s get right to the point; life can be very painful and losses in life can hurt a bunch! This brings almost all of us to the point of crying out to God with “Why Lord? If you love me so much, why would you allow such difficulty and suffering in my life?” Have you been there? If you have lived for very long, the answer is most likely a resounding “Yes”. The fact of life in this fallen and sin-filled world is that we will all suffer losses, defeats, disappointments, discouragements, betrayals, pain and depression. Why would a loving God allow this to happen to us? The reasons are many and sometimes unknown to us, but the short answer is for growth. Success and ease in life almost always brings pride, self-sufficiency, arrogance and laziness into our character. It is hardships that teach us not to rely on temporal things of this life and that create humility and greater zeal to pursue God. God “prunes” us to stimulate greater growth. Does this mean He takes away things we love, even people in our life, just to grow us? Well, it’s certainly not that simple! God’s ways are far more complex than ours and He is looking at the long game of eternity and many factors we cannot see, while we are mostly looking at our immediate happiness and comfort. If God takes away someone or something we really love in our life, we cannot assume we know all the reasons why, but we must trust Him all the same. Our challenge is to trust Him in our pain and put our hope in His character and goodness no matter how we “feel” at the time. We never know what God is doing in the lives of other people and what He may be sparing us or them from. We are called to live this life by faith and that means we do not have all the answers and we must trust our Heavenly Father even when things do look good or feel good. All we can do is move forward in our relationship with God and trust He will reveal His purposes later in our life, or in eternity when we are with Him “face to face” as 1 Corinthians 13:12 teaches. One thing I can testify to, the pain in my life and the challenges I have faced personally have resulted in my greatest personal growth. The key is to not get bitter or quagmire in the “whys” of life. We cannot know all that is going on “behind the veil” of God’s providence! We must let Him work in and through us by His grace to grow in faith and love, humility and gratitude. We can only do this if Jesus Christ is our Savior and we are letting His Word and Spirit guide and rule us. If you have never called on Jesus to save you from your sins, you will never be able to properly respond to God’s work as the Vinedresser who is pruning you. Only by being rightly related to God through Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit do we have a chance of thinking and living rightly. The morals and teaching of the world fall woefully short of God’s purposes for us. Surrender to God’s love and grace today if you have not done so. Let Him have His way in your life and watch how He helps you persevere and grow through difficulties and trials to bring Him much glory and to the benefit of others. Blessings!
Love in Christ,
Pastor Gary Houdek