Yesterday I wrote about how God uses our pain, problems and often other people to make us more productive. Just as the vinedresser (God) has to prune the vines to make them more productive God does the same with us. In John 15:1-2, Jesus 10 pruning1says that we are the branches and He is the vine, “Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit.” The process of pruning is always to make us better. It’s always for our own good. There’s an interesting process associated with pruning. We are all at one of three stages with regard to it. We may have just been pruned. We may be growing back after having been pruned, or we may be in full bloom after having been pruned.

We love it when things are really going great in life. We should truly enjoy it and celebrate. But we must never forget that another pruning will be coming sooner or later. I know this because no matter how much pruning you and I have experienced we are never going to be perfect. There is always more work to be done on us. God is faithful. Paul says, “For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus” (Philippians 1:6). I like the NASB (New American Standard Bible) translation of this passage because it focuses on the fact that if we have breath, God is still working on us and he will keep on working on us until we either go to be with Christ, or Christ comes to be with us. The pruning process is never over! Realizing this truth keeps us humble at those times when we are most productive.

Maybe you have just experienced a very serious pruning and are overwhelmed with how naked and bare you look to yourself and others. To survive this stage we must constantly remind ourselves of God’s infinite goodness. The Psalmist explains how to handle this stage. In Psalm 142:2, we read, “I pour out my problems to him; I tell him my troubles.” Maybe you’ve moved beyond the barren stage and are just beginning to sprout new life. One writer says about this situation, “Your growth will be stunted if you spend your time looking back on your last pruning with regret instead of gratitude.” This is one problem I’m always wrestling with. It’s so tempting to hold on to the pains of the pruning and become bitter and resentful. The writer goes on to says, “Let me encourage you to let it go as you rejoice in the strength gained to move on to the next level.” When God prunes us it always results in a greater good as well as a sweeter fruit. James simply tells us to let that happen. He says that these pains and problems produce steadfastness, “And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing” (See James 1:3-4).