black bird on gray concrete fence during daytime

, | 09 Nov 2020 | by GEM

Abiding in Pain

by Lena Larson

“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 does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit.” (John 15:1-2,ESV)

Pruning. In my head it makes sense. Fruit trees are pruned to bear fruit. I’m pruned for the same reason. There is good intention behind it. But pruning is painful. I appreciate A. W. Tozer’s honesty about this:
“Let us remember that when we talk of the rending of the veil [of self] we are speaking in a figure, and the thought of it is poetical, almost pleasant, but in actuality there is nothing pleasant about it… to touch it is to touch us where we feel pain. To tear it away is to injure us, to hurt us and make us bleed. To say otherwise is to make the cross no cross and death no death at all. It is never fun to die.”[1]

The author of Hebrews doesn’t beat around the bush either when he says that, “For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant” (Hebrews 12:11). I know God has the best in mind but with C. S. Lewis I wonder “how painful the best will turn out to be”[2].

I guess the real question is, when I know that God, the Vinedresser, is the source of my pruning and pain, will I lean in or turn away? Even as I write this I realize there are more quotes from my fellow humans coming to mind than words of Scripture. Perhaps there are new ways He is inviting me to come to know Him as a fellow sufferer; that He is not just behind the pruning, but He’s with me in it. He is not calling me to anything He was not willing to experience Himself.

“Kindness may seem brutal in its grace. As when a surgeon cuts at death to offer life. But the scars of love display The hope that grows from pain.” ~Calvin Miller[3]

There are scarred hands in heaven that can give me hope. And while my pruning is so often related to my own sinfulness, He too learned obedience through suffering (Hebrews 5:8). Lord, may I not shy away from walking that path with You.

In Christ,

Lena Larsen

For Reflection:
“He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief;” (Isaiah 53:3, ESV) “When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in his spirit and greatly troubled.” (John 11:33, ESV)

  1. Is there a specific passage or story that helps you identify with Christ as a fellow sufferer?
  2. Do you have specific examples of “hope that’s grown from pain”?

[1] Tozer, A. W. The Pursuit of God [2] Lewis, C. S. Letters to an American Lady [3] Miller, Calvin A Symphony in Sand