Persecution & Suffering: 12

In John 15:1-2, Jesus says, “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.”

Being “in Christ” means we will bear fruit. Fruit is evidence of His life in us. Later in this chapter in verse 8 we are told, “This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.” At the very heart of our purpose is glorifying God. Thus, bearing fruit, even much fruit, is an indispensible aspect of our core reason for existing.

One important purpose and reason for suffering in our lives is to “prune” us so we will bear more fruit. For a time, I was a blackberry farmer. You have to be a heartless person if you are a successful blackberry farmer. Each year from each blackberry plant you allow only to shoots (canes) to grow. You cut off all the rest. Then you regularly prune off all branches or shoots that grow off of those two. What is left you tie off to the stake and the two wires between stakes so that all that remains is tied to those supports. That means you end up pruning about 90% of the growth. In the end, the entire plant is covered with large, luscious, delicious blackberries. The plants couldn’t possibly produce that amount of fruit if the plants had not been brutally pruned. Also, the plants couldn’t possibly support that amount of weight if they weren’t tied inextricably along the supporting wires and stakes. The “extreme” pruning is necessary if you want to maximize fruitfulness.

I no longer farm blackberries. We do have wild blackberries in our area, however. My wife goes out each year to harvest some of them. They are much smaller and do not taste as sweet. They are also not nearly as fruitful. What takes my wife all day to harvest from wild blackberries could be harvested in five minutes from well-cultivated blackberry bushes.

In the same way, God’s pruning us, through difficulties and suffering, is for our good and His glory. Therefore, we can rejoice in it.