I want to encourage anyone right now who is going through a painful season. When the Lord allows you to experience disappointment for a prolonged period, He’s not wasting your time. He is allowing for the reaping of an even greater harvest. He doesn’t want us to miss out on a single season of fruit, and if that means extra (and I mean, extra) pruning through frustration, disappointment, or delay, it is only for our good (see Surrender the Building Plans and For the Love of Redemption).
Similar to the third point of my blog Hope Deferred, one of the main reasons why God allows for the delay of our desires and dreams – which He actually wants to give because He put it in our heart to desire those things – is that He is growing our potential for fruit! There are some things you can learn about God only when you are struggling, only when you are experiencing sadness or disappointment, and only when, because of this, you are forced to press into Him even more. If we really believe that He is the desire of our hearts, we will realize that, though painful, this is the privilege of our lives – that He loves us enough to deepen our walk with Him through delayed or deferred hopes.
I just got back from our first family vacation in Colorado, which was one of the most beautiful places I have ever been, but one day as we were driving past the lush mountains we saw a large open area that looked like it had been burned. We remarked about it because, separate from all of the beauty around us, it looked awful. Our first thought was that an accidental forest fire was the cause, but my brother’s girlfriend said that it was actually most likely due to something called a “prescribed fire.” I did some research while there, and this is when a fire is not only good for the land, but absolutely necessary for its continued growth. The park rangers actually start fires on the mountains themselves! The Fire and Aviation Management website gave this insight:
“Trees are stressed by overcrowding; fire-dependent species disappear; and flammable fuels build up and become hazardous. The right fire at the right place at the right time:
- Reduces hazardous fuels, protecting human communities from extreme fires;
- Minimizes the spread of pest insects and disease;
- Removes unwanted species that threaten species native to an ecosystem;
- Improves habitat for threatened and endangered species;
- Recycles nutrients back to the soil; and
- Promotes the growth of trees, wildflowers, and other plants.”
Basically, “the Forest Service manages prescribed fires and even some wildfires to benefit natural resources and reduce the risk of unwanted wildfires in the future. More prescribed fires mean fewer extreme wildfires.”
This absolutely blows me away. The majority of people might think that fires in an extremely dense forest area would be bad no matter what, but there is actually danger of an even worse fire taking place if the people don’t torch the land themselves.
“Specialists write burn plans for prescribed fires. Burn plans identify – or prescribe – the best conditions under which trees and other plants will burn to get the best results safely.” Now, I want you to apply this to your life. Isn’t this like the Lord? He’s a Burn Specialist. He may have prescribed the fire and allowed the burn, but He’s written the entire burn plan, and He knows how it’s going to benefit you in the long-run. A prescribed fire actually prepares the land for new and greater growth! “When excess vegetation or needle layers are burned off, nitrogen and other nutrients are released into the soil and become available for new plants to grow.” The burn is necessary for certain trees/plants because the exposed soil from the fire allows them to naturally regenerate.
Sometimes it feels like God deals harsher with those who love Him and are called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28). You may wonder, “Why God is this happening to me? Why did You let this be my story?” If so, I want to share this with you: “The LORD disciplines those He loves, as a father the son he delights in” (Proverbs 3:12). This does not mean He is causing you simply to suffer, but if you feel that the Lord is allowing you to grow through painful situations again and again it is because He is desiring to teach you deeper things in the struggle. It is actually proof of sonship and God’s love for you as He is letting you learn things in a controlled environment while He still protects you as a Father. You are actually one of the privileged ones because you are gaining His awareness and closeness. No matter what, if you are a human being on this planet, you will experience fire at some point. However, if you allow the Lord to have His completed work in you through surrendering to His will, it is a fire that is purifying you. It is a fire that is protecting you. It is a fire that is making you more fruitful and able to grow.
There is more land to be acquired – some gained through pain, but God allows you to be burned so that you can actually be BLESSED. How crazy is that? Prescribed fires, or fires allowed and sometimes committed by the Lord’s hand, are actually creating the very opposite result we would expect. We think that a fire (pain, disappointments) will kill and destroy, but God sometimes allows a fire to produce life and heal. He brings healing where we didn’t know we needed it. Where we would allow our land to be overgrown and pray for no fire, thinking that we are actually saving ourselves pain and stunted growth, God knows that the only way to keep growing is to set a torch to it. He burns what is dangerous and what has potential for an unhealthy and out of control flame in the future and He cultivates what remains.
Personally, I know God is good and kind, but it can sometimes seem like He has taken a torch to my heart again and again. If I didn’t know better, I would think the worst. However, I remember this…
He is burning the old things, old parts of me that were not beautiful, old parts of me that were dead and dying. Sometimes the only way to bear more fruit is to be burned (or pruned) by the Lord’s hand. Yes, it hurts. Yes, it seems harsh. But yes, it is for my good.
When I was in college at Dallas Baptist University, I had a bookmark with John 15:5 on it that I kept in my Bible and read every day for almost 2 years. Unfortunately, I lost it at church (which is hilarious to me), but it didn’t take long afterwards for me to realize that I had already internalized it deep into my heart:
“I am the Vine, you are the branches. If a man remains in Me and I in him, he will bear much fruit. Apart from Me you can do nothing.” – John 15:5
If I remain in the Lord, it is a promise…I WILL bear MUCH fruit. I do not have to doubt this, or feel bad about it. It is just the natural byproduct of being with Him because I can do nothing without Him. However, that does not mean that fruit comes easy. Pain actually sometimes reveals the unfruitfulness inside of us. Therefore, being fruitful through pain means that we have to ALLOW that torch to be put to the parts of us that no longer bear any fruit such as: comparison, jealousy, a quickness to anger, bitterness, selfishness, and the list goes on. God taking the torch to parts of your heart through pain gives you an opportunity to expose these hidden things to the Lord in a deeper way, which then gives you an opportunity to grow your character and produces in you a greater love for Him, and a greater love and empathy for others.
“Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it so that it may bear more fruit.” – John 15:2
“My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be My disciples.” – John 15:8
“Now for this very reason also, applying all diligence, in your faith supply moral excellence, and in your moral excellence, knowledge, and in your knowledge, self-control, and in your self-control, perseverance, and in your perseverance, godliness, and in your godliness, brotherly kindness, and in your brotherly kindness, love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they render you neither useless nor unfruitful in the true knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.” – 2 Peter 1:5-8
God is faithful, and the pain that He allows, He allows for a purpose. I don’t know about you, but I want to be Fruitful all the days of my life. May He do whatever He has to do to take me to the place that brings Him the most glory, and may I wholeheartedly seek, bless, and obey Him all the way. He doesn’t waste His fire, so I will not waste my growth.