Every branch that bears fruit He prunes,that it may bear more fruit. ~ John 15:2
Now we come to the chapter that is perhaps the hardest to understand for a new Christian. I do remember that when the Lord opened my eyes and brought me out of darkness, I was delighted with the fact that I was a child of God. My heavenly Father was in control. He made the world, and everything in it. He would let nothing bad happen to me, or so I thought.
Very soon, bad things started to happen. Our car broke down. My husband was injured at work. He lost his job. We had to move to a new town, where we knew nobody. If God were so good, why were all of these things happening? These trials shook me to the core.
God did not leave me wallowing in self-pity, however. He gently and patiently taught me this truth: I was a branch in the Vine, and every branch that would bear fruit MUST BE pruned, in order to bear more fruit.
Andrew Murray explains that of all the plants that grow on the earth, the grape vine is the perfect picture of the image of man in his relationship to God.
No other plant
- has such fruit and juice (full of spirit, alive, stimulating, sweet)
- has such a natural tendency to evil (growth that gets woody and worthless)
- needs pruning unsparingly and unceasingly
- is dependent on cultivation and training
- yields a richer reward
"In this dark world, often so full of suffering and sorrow for believers, we can take comfort in His words about pruning, knowing that He means it for our good."~p.116, Abiding in Christ by Andrew Murray
When pain comes, what do we do? Run away. Flee. Avoid the pain. Escape the trial. Yet the Father's purpose is to teach us through the trial to Abide In Christ.
"Through suffering, the Father leads us to enter more deeply into the love of Christ."
Our hearts are prone to wander. Prosperity and enjoyment too easily satisfy. They dull our spiritual perception. They make us unfit for communion with God.
So what does God do? In His mercy, He afflicts us. He makes the world seem dark and unattractive. He leads us to see more deeply the depth of our depravity.
What should we do in response to affliction? Pray. Pray for grace to see the Father pointing us to His beloved Son. In every trial, great or small, pray for grace to see.
Pray for grace to see
He means the best for me.
The trials He doth send,
Will bless me in the end.
He points me to His Son,
The Only, Holy One,
And makes me to Him flee -
My Hope is found in Thee! ~ J.Billson
God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in His holiness. ~Hebrews 12:10
A BELIEVER MAY PASS THROUGH A LOT OF AFFLICTION
AND RECEIVE LITTLE BLESSING FROM IT ALL.
Instead of responding well, the carnal Christian may become
- whiny, disappointed, discouraged
John Piper wrote an article called, "Don't Waste Your Cancer". He wisely outlines ways to use this terrible affliction as a means to become more Christlike. That's God's purpose in any trial - to produce in us more Christlikeness. This doesn't mean He leaves us comfortless. On the contrary, there is no Comforter like our Beautiful God, Who comforts us in all of our afflictions.
- He shows us His heart.
- He reveals His love.
- He comforts us with tenderness and compassion, like an attentive mother with a distraught child.
What I have discovered in my own life is that it isn't the huge trials that wear me down. The car accidents, the cancer diagnosis, the child-out-of-wedlock, the $7,000 repair bills, coming close to death in labour. Those big things are obviously out of my control, and what can I do but throw myself on the mercy of God? The Big Trials have been times when I have had a deepening of my relationship with Christ. I've learned confidence in Him, and I've experienced close fellowship with the God Who satisfies.
What is harder by for for me are the little trials, the everyday troubles that wear me down bit by bit. Difficulties with relationships, misunderstandings. Physical pain that never leaves. Worry about finances that seems to never end. Living in the same old house with the same old mice (or their grandchildren) gnawing in the same old walls. The little things - the little foxes - spoil the vines.
It's in the day to day little afflictions that I must learn to abide. That's where I can become impatient, angry, self-centered and whiny. That's where I need to renew my mind.
Rest in Christ in times of affliction, whether the trial is great or small. God will produce good things in your life, if you trust Him in this.
- You'll bear more fruit.
- You'll desire to live more for His glory.
- You'll sympathize more with the misery of others.
- You'll yield yourself more to His will.
- You'll desire ONE THING: to make Him known to others.
IN AFFLICTION, YOUR FIRST AND ONLY CALLING IS
TO ABIDE IN CHRIST.