"I am the true vine, and My Father is the gardener. . . . He prunes every branch that produces fruit, so that it will produce more fruit." John 15:1-2
Our Father is the gardener; we are branches under His care. He watches over our lives. The painful afflictions which cut into our very souls, the taking from us of objects that are dear to us, as when the gardener with his sharp knife removes luxuriant branches from the vine--are our Father's prunings! No hand but His ever holds the knife! We are sure, then, that there is never any careless cutting, any unwise or mistaken pruning, any needless removing of rich branches or growths.
We really need to go no farther than this. A strong, abiding confidence that all the trials, sorrows and losses of our lives--all parts of our Father's prunings--ought to silence every question, quiet every fear and give peace and restful assurance to our hearts, in all their pain. We cannot know the reason for the painful strokes, but we know that He who holds the pruning-knife is our Father! That is all we need to know.
The other thought in the Lord's parable, is scarcely less full of comfort to a Christian. Jesus says, that it is the fruitful branches which the Father prunes: "He prunes every branch that produces fruit, so that it will produce more fruit."
Afflictions are not, then, a mark of God's anger or disapproval; rather, they are a mark of His favor. The branches into which He cuts, from which he trims away the luxuriant growths, are fruit-bearing already. He does not prune the fruitless branches--He cuts them off altogether as useless, as mere cumberers, absorbing life and yielding nothing of blessing or good.
Some Christians have the impression that their many troubles indicate that God does not love them--that they cannot be true Christians, or they would not be so chastened. This teaching of Christ shows how mistaken they are. The much chastening shows that the Father is pruning His fruitful branch to make it more fruitful! All whom the Father loves--He chastens!
It is the fruitless branch that is never pruned; the fruitful branch is pruned, and pruned--not by one without skill, not by an enemy--but by the wise Father!Thus we see how we may rejoice, even in our trials and afflictions!
One who was altogether ignorant of the art and purpose of pruning, who should see a man with a sharp knife cutting off branch after branch of a luxuriant vine, would at first suppose that the pruner was ruining the vine. So at the time it seems. But by and by, it appears that the prunings have made the vine more fruitful. In the season of vintage, the grapes are more luscious, with a richer flavor in them--because of the cutting away of the superfluous branches.
In like manner, if an angel who had never witnessed anything of human suffering and who knew nothing of its object, were to see the Father causing pain and affliction to His children, it would seem to him that these experiences could be only destructive of happiness and blessing; but if the angel were to follow those chastened lives on to the end, he would see untold blessing coming out of the chastenings! The Father was but pruning the branches, that they might bear more and better fruit!
We should never lose sight of the divine purpose in all trials--to make our lives more fruitful.
- J. R. Miller