Pain: What is it Good For?
“I am the true vine, and my Father is the vine dresser. Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit. (John 15:1-2 KJV) We often wonder why pain exists, why bad things happen to God’s children. The obvious philosophical answer is that God had to allow us to experience both good and evil to give us free will—without the ability to choose evil, wouldn’t our choice of good be somewhat meaningless? But here Christ also points out that pruning makes us more fruitful—something true in agriculture and in life. We trim away dead and unproductive branches so that all of the tree’s resources can be committed to useful ones. It is something of a shock to the tree, but in the long run you have a healthier, stronger tree as a result. The same is often true in our lives. Difficult circumstances give us growth and insight we would never otherwise achieve.
Quick: think of the 3 people in your life who helped you grow and achieve the most—teachers, coaches, leaders… Chances are they were not easy on you. They demanded more from you than you thought you had. They might have caused you pain. At times they challenged you, frustrated you, and called you to reach beyond your current level of performance. Is it possible that Your Father is using difficult circumstances in the same way? “He purges every branch so that it may bring forth more fruit.” Allow this sentence to sink in. Pray that it could change your outlook about hard times. Remember that Jesus faced discomfort and hardship throughout his life—and certainly during his painful death—so he knew what he was talking about. May His loving care guide you through difficult circumstances into new perspective and fruitfulness, and may you find a thankful heart no matter what happens. Even painful things can have fruitful results. As Paul said in 1 Thessalonians 5:18, “give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” The thanksgiving season reminds us how important having an attitude of gratitude can be; it is also a great way to start remembering the greatest gift ever given, and the birth of the one who gave it! His life proved that the even the greatest evil can be transformed into the greatest good. Perhaps in smaller ways, our lives can prove the same thing.
Although contentment is our aim, This life is touched by wind and rain; Our comfort is disturbed by Pain, Who sneaks around us like a thief Breaking into our relief To sow discouragement and grief. Yet Pain can also play a part As part of a loving Father's art, In strengthening our will, our heart, If pain is used productively The way that pruning helps a tree; There can be more to pain, you see... So when you cannot bear it any longer, Keep going. Somehow, pain will make you stronger.
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