Jesus describes two kinds of people in John 15: those who don’t “bear fruit” and those who do. The first group – who don’t “abide in” him – will be “gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned” (verse 6). Those who do abide in Christ, on the other hand, are “pruned” (verse 2).
Wow. So our choices are to be burned or pruned? Kind of a far cry from the whole “abundant life” thing, right?
Maybe not, actually.
Read all of verse 2 and you see Christ promises that those of his followers who bear fruit will be pruned so they can bear more fruit.
You will suffer pain in this life whether you follow Christ or not. Nowhere in God’s word does He promise an easy life. But to those who follow Him he does promise that their struggles will be worthwhile.
Have you lost a job? A loved one? Did your car break down? Did your boyfriend or girlfriend break up with you? Are you physically, mentally, or spiritually ill? None of that means God has forsaken you. And you shouldn’t forsake Him, either.
God cuts away – or prunes – things from our lives (or calls on us to do so) so that we can bear more fruit in the long run. It hurts. But it’s good.
If you’ve lost a job, thank God for the time you now have to develop or hone your skills, spend with your loved ones, or just catch your breath.
If you’re sick, thank God that you live at all and look for opportunities to use what strength you have to spread His love to others. Weak people showing unnatural strength are incredible role models.
If you’ve been hurt by someone else, thank God that He’s more faithful, steadfast, and abundantly loving than anyone here on Earth.
If you’ve lost possessions – even things as critical as your home, clothes, or mode of transportation – thank God for all you still have, including friends, family, people in your community, and His unfailing grace.
If it feels like you’ve lost EVERYTHING, don’t despair. Trust in God. Remain in Him. Talk to Him. Stay faithful, and see if He won’t build you back up even stronger than before.