Have you run short of funds, held a bummer event or felt betrayed by someone you trusted? Welcome to the club. You stand in the company of the apostles and of probably anyone you look up to.
Pain is an asset if you value it as that. Or, it is a stumbling block if that is how you choose to regard it. Chuck Smith used to say, “Pain can make you bitter or it can make you better.” You choose! Several times I’ve suffered major disappointment with people that I thought I knew. The temptation to ‘woe is me’ reared up and bit me, but I chose to see it through the lens of Romans 8:28—I found the silver lining when I did. You can too.
I’ve planted three churches and multiplied a lot more. Financial reversals, letdown events and human failures accompanied each one. But we somehow managed to see God working for good in every situation. Not in a ‘rosy’ way, nor early in the process. But, our teams eventually recognized the Master’s ability to use unfortunate events as pruning tools in our lives. Jesus said, “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit” (John 15:1-2 ESV). I hate the process but have learned to anticipate the results. When you prune a vine, or a bush, you get more branches and more branches generate more fruit. Since fruitfulness is the core purpose of all this we need to get used to the pruning. It’s going to happen.
Exploding With Fruit
The church in Jerusalem got pruned in Acts 8. The fruit included ministry in Samaria, Ethiopia, Phoenicia, Cyprus, Cyrene and of course Antioch. When pain prevented public ministry in the region of Lystra and Derbe, Barnabas and Paul ‘knighted’ disciples as elders, planting churches throughout the region. Painful pruning produces fruit if you let it. Learn to see pain as an asset that drives you closer to the heart of God. “Bless the Lord at all times…”
So, am I blowing smoke or is this real–share your experience, or insight, in the comments section below.