Last month I was restless and decided to go for a late night drive to clear my head. As drove home, the disappointment began to leave my eyes as I cried out, “I need you now more than ever."

I talked with God about all the sacrifices I’ve made. I told Him I had believed this year would be a year of change and now I don’t think I could bear one more day of it, something’s gotta give.

I asked what I was being punished for, had I become too proud. I took the long way home and there was clarity. I remembered what I learned as a child in church. Discipline isn’t always punishment, but its love. It’s how our fathers show love (Hebrews 12:10-11.)

Correction isn’t always pleasant, but it always has a purpose (Proverbs 10:17.) The A-ha moment continued as I remembered what Jesus said about pruning (John 15:1-2.)


Jesus’ first audiences were familiar with agriculture. When they heard Jesus talk about pruning, they understood it was a good thing; we let it bring us down like gravity. God is interested in the details of our lives.

God has a way of using pain to get our attention. When our hearts are hard as titanium, He uses suffering to shape us (Romans 8:28.)

Webster’s defines pruning as, “To trim by cutting away dead or overgrown branches, especially to increase fruitfulness and growth; to reduce the extent of something by removing excess growth.”

The implication is obvious; God (the gardener) takes away anything that impedes growth. It may not be pleasant, but God will strip us of anything that isn’t bearing fruit for His glory, not ours. Let’s be honest, it hurts.

This suffering seems pointless. Jesus makes it clear in His sermons; His followers will suffer in this mad world. Unfortunately, this doctrine of suffering was rejected by the Pharisees.

Not much has changed in the 21st-century church with their personal Jesus. The least of these are looked down upon.

John tells a story about Jesus meeting a blind man outside of the temple. His disciples wanted to know who sinned to cause him to be blind (John 8:59-9:2.)

Jesus’ reply is that God is glorified by this man born without eyesight. Religious people believe suffering is a result of something someone has done or hasn’t done, they are nearsighted. They think their position makes them better than everyone, they forget Jesus promises us, the children of the living light, we will suffer (John 16:33.)

Timothy Keller said it best, “The irreligious person knows she is far away from God, but the religious person often does not.” And that is why we need to be pruned. Jesus came to set us free from the things that have captured us (John 8:36.) Pharisees want to make this world Heaven, when Jesus came to set us free from it.

Set free?

God has always used trials, pain and suffering to draw His people back to Himself whenever they would fall away. That’s why they were constantly attacked in the Old Testament and even forced into exile numerous times. Remember the book of Lamentations? Psalm 22 is a hymn of the future suffering savior.

He would set them free from whatever was hindering them (Hebrews 12:1.) This has been God’s M.O. since Adam and Eve fell in the original garden. This is why He had to set boundaries (Genesis 3:24.)

This world will break us and leave us disappointed. But, we can say the joy of the Lord is our strength, even when being pruned (Psalm 28:7.)