“Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit.”
Why does God prune us? I used to think it was His harsh way of dealing with me in order to get more fruit out of me. Kinda like the old saying, “What doesn’t kill you will only make you stronger.” I was intimidated at the thought of God pruning me. “What will He take next?” “What will I have to go through?” “How long will it take?” “How much will it hurt?” And honestly, I sometimes still find myself thinking these thoughts. Yet every single time I go through a season of pruning, I am so grateful for it. So why the fear? And back to my first question, why does God prune?
I believe the fear is simply because we don’t truly and intimately know the heart of God. Recently, the Lord has been revealing to me that many of my thoughts about Him are not true and also much of what I assume He thinks or feels towards me is not true. I’ve been asking the questions, “what do I think of Him?” and “What does He think of me?” I’m realizing that when I feel frustrated with myself, I assume God must also be frustrated with me. If I feel discouraged about my walk with God, He probably does too. But God is showing me that this simply is not true.
How do I know? Well, on August 11, 2019 I became the father of a precious little girl. And believe it or not, she actually cries from time to time! What is amazing to me though, is how little her cry actually annoys me. When other people’s children cry it is quite annoying, but not mine. This is because I know her and usually know why she is crying. Her cry is precious to my ears! It makes me want to hold her tight or rescue her or comfort her. Why? Because she is mine and she is only a baby.
It is the same with God. Our problems don’t frustrate Him. Our spiritual shortcomings don’t aggravate Him. Our failures don’t irritate Him. Why? Because we are His children! I don’t look at my little girl and say, “Why are you crying? Haven’t you figured life out by now?” Neither does God look at His children and wonder why we can’t get things figured out.
Ps. 103:13-14 says this about the heart of God: “Like as a father pitieth his children, so the Lord pitieth them that fear Him. For He knows our frame; He remembers that we are dust.” I looked up the word “pitieth” in the concordance and this is what the Hebrew lexicon says: “The primary idea appears to be in cherishing, soothing, and in gentle emotion of the mind.” Just meditate on that for a minute and receive the truth about the heart of God towards you!
Now with that in mind let’s answer my original question, “Why does God prune?” The verse tells us that it is in order that we may bear more fruit. So why is pruning necessary for more fruit? Is it because He knows the only way to get fruit out of you it to make you miserable? I don’t think so.
I was pondering this very question and was reminded of a personal illustration of this when I was a kid. I grew up in Oklahoma and my family had a peach tree in our yard. This peach tree produced the best peaches I’ve ever had. The juice would run down my arms and drip off my elbows as I bit into the fuzzy skin and munched my way to the big, brown, funny-looking seed in the middle…okay I’ll stop there. Anyways, this tree was not very big yet it produced a lot of peaches. However, it was never pruned and so it had a lot growing from each branch. The branches sagged nearly to the ground and we could hardly mow the grass under it. One year a big storm came through and destroyed the tree. Nearly all of its branches snapped or broke off and we never got much fruit from that tree again. Had this tree been pruned well, it likely would have withstood the storm and continued to produce much fruit for many years.
I think you know what I’m getting at. The Lord certainly desires much fruit from each branch, but He knows that if a branch is not strong enough it will break under the weight of its own fruit. He knows the branch must grow strong and thick at its base through much abiding while frequently cutting off much of the visible growth in order to preserve the branch and in the end produce much fruit over many years.