Can We Skip the Growing Pains?

August 14, 2016 No Comments »
Can We Skip the Growing Pains?

By David Faust

faustSomeone has said, “Anyone can count the seeds in an apple, but it takes faith to count the apples in a seed.”

God designed plants to show remarkable resilience. A couple of years ago my wife took the pruning shears to an overgrown houseplant and chopped it down to a mere stub. I was sure she had killed it. But it’s currently thriving in a corner of our kitchen, with stems that are a yard long, covered with healthy green leaves. Each spring I cut back my rose bushes, and in turn they produce new growth and colorful flowers all summer long.

I’m not sure why God designed things this way, but the fact is, sometimes cutbacks lead to growth spurts.

Jesus underscored this truth when he said, “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful” (John 15:1, 2).


I don’t enjoy being pruned. The Father in Heaven is a master gardener. He trims branches with surgical precision, but most of us don’t like how it feels when the cuts occur.

• Your career was on track and things seemed to be progressing nicely at work. Why did your company lay off employees and eliminate your job?

• You liked your church the way it was. Why did the leaders make decisions that resulted in hurt feelings and caused some members to leave?

• You took care of your body and tried to stay in shape. Why did God allow cancer to threaten your health?

• You worked hard to earn a living, manage your spending, and give generously to those in need. Why is your budget so tight? Why isn’t God showering you with financial rewards?


While we don’t always understand the pruning process, it’s wise to trust the gardener. According to Jesus, the Father prunes branches that are already fruitful in order to make them more fruitful. If the Lord cuts something out of our lives, his goal is to make us more productive, not less.

• In Judges 7, Gideon must have been bewildered when God reduced his fighting force from 32,000 to 300 men; but God used that miniature militia to defeat the Midianite army.

• In 1 Samuel 17, the Israelites cowered in fear of Goliath’s threats; but a sling-wielding young shepherd solved the giant problem a sizeable army couldn’t overcome.

• In John 6, the apostles must have been dismayed when the crowds left in droves because of Jesus’ hard teaching; but the Lord used a handful of convinced, devoted followers to change the world.

• In Acts 8, the church of thousands in Jerusalem found itself decimated by persecution. The believers scattered to far-flung regions of Judea and Samaria, but the master gardener used this painful pruning to fulfill a positive purpose. Like apple seeds, those scattered followers of Christ bore fruit and “preached the word wherever they went” (Acts 8:4).

It’s strange how life works. No pain, no progress. No tension, no transformation. No cutbacks, no fresh starts. Thank God for the seeds he’s planting and the dead branches he’s pruning from your life. He’s not trying to hurt you. He’s preparing you to bear more fruit.

David Faust serves as the Associate Minister at East 91st Street Christian Church in Indianapolis, Indiana.

Based on International Sunday School Lesson, © 2012, by the Lesson Committee. Scripture quotations are from the New International Version ©2011, unless otherwise indicated.

Daily Readings

Aug. 15


Isaiah 49:8-13

Restoration After Repentance

Aug. 16


Hosea 14:1-7

Repent and Return

Aug. 17


Ezra 9:5-9

Repent and Repair

Aug. 18


Zechariah 8:9-17

Repent and Live

Aug. 19


Zechariah 9:16, 17; 10:6-12

Repent and Grow Strong

Aug. 20


John 15:1-8

Repent and Bear Fruit

Aug. 21


Romans 11:11-24

Finding Common Ground

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