“Any child can count the number of seeds in an apple, but only God can count the number of apples in a seed.” The key to understanding the role of persecution, trouble, trial and affliction in the life of the Believer is to understand that God focuses on our eternal reward, not our earthly comfort. Pruning is hard. Do we seek the Lord and draw our life and strength from Him or do we give up, wither and die?
John 15:5-8 HCSB
“I am the vine; you are the branches. The one who remains in Me and I in him produces much fruit, because you can do nothing without Me. If anyone does not remain in Me, he is thrown aside like a branch and he withers. They gather them, throw them into the fire, and they are burned. If you remain in Me and My words remain in you, ask whatever you want and it will be done for you. My Father is glorified by this: that you produce much fruit and prove to be My disciples.
Our Father is interested in fruitfulness. We bear leaves and think we are doing well but Christ curses the fig tree that bears no fruit (Mark 11:12-14). We want to be comfortable and content and have everything go our way but God is seeking fruitfulness (John 15:8). The sweetest grapes are borne in drought and stressing the vine makes it bears fruit instead of leaves. We want leaves. God wants fruit. Fruit is that which remains and what Christ will reward at the Judgment Seat (1 Corinthians 3:12-15).
Our Father wields His pruning knife and begins His cuts. He removes every branch that has withered. He examines each branch for fruit and any branch that isn’t bearing fruit, He cuts it off. When He finds fruit, His pruning knife cuts too.
The branches, having been cut, enter survival mode. The wounded branch, pruned by His hand, draws from the Vine and pours every bit of energy into the fruit that its life may continue in others (2 Corinthians 4:10-12). The vine produces much fruit.
When persecution, trouble, trial or affliction come in the life of the Believer, God allows this (Job 1:1-10, Luke 22:31-32). Satan is nothing but the pruning knife in God’s hand.
Each believer must choose what to do in persecution, trouble, trial or affliction. Do we identify with the branch that is cut off? Or do we identify with the vine, dig in like a tick on a hound dog, and seek Him until He fills us with His life and with His power?
Our prayer life is the key. If our prayers are being answered, we are abiding in Him. If our prayers are not being answered, it reveals to us we are not abiding in Him.
I will not ask others to do my praying for me. I will seek the Lord. When discouragement comes, I will fall on my face before God and cry out to Him until He encourages me. When pruning comes, I will set aside time to draw closer to Him.
His Word will be on my lips and in my heart each morning and each evening. I will obey His Word. I will offer to God the sacrifices of thanksgiving and praise. Early in the morning I will seek Him and I will set my heart on Him and worship Him.
Like a child, I will look to my Father and do what I see Him doing. I will imitate Him (Ephesians 5:1) and will be like Him (1 John 3:2). He is Faithful so I will be Faithful. He is True, I will be True. God is Love, I will be Loving. He is Holy, I will be Holy. God is Good, I will be Good and do Good. I will be Righteous as He is Righteous; Just as He is Just and Free as He is Free. No circumstance will limit me, it is only the hand of my loving Heavenly Father stressing me that I may bear abundant fruit. When I am cursed, I will bless. If I am spat upon, I will smile. I will rejoice when I am punished for doing Good.
Lord God, Father, show me what I am in need of. Reveal Yourself to me so I may imitate You as a dear child. Train me to always seek Your face and to always draw my strength and life from You (Isaiah 40:31). Make me fruitful so there is much that remains when the fire burns away the wood, hay and stubble at the Judgment Seat of Christ. Let me count these “light and temporary afflictions” as a gift from God that is producing in me an eternal glory that far outweighs my troubles (2 Corinthians 4:16-18).
Trouble Your people Lord God until they seek Your face and learn to draw their life and strength from You (James 5:17). Without You, we can do nothing. In You, we can do all things (Philippians 4:13) and nothing is impossible (Luke 1:37).
In Jesus Name I pray, Amen.
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