This is a guest post by my friend, Bridget Thomas, author of a book I love, “Every Day Is a Gift: 30 Days to a More Thankful You.”
We all have some hard days where we struggle with negative emotions and attitudes. Whether it is because of over 6 months of social distancing, financial problems, marriage tension, relationship trouble, parenting issues, work drama, or health woes, we can all relate to feeling out-of-sorts. The question is, what will we do with these churning emotions?
I’m thankful for Bridget’s willingness to share a bit of what the Lord has shown her recently.
What is wrong with me? I asked myself this question recently. I was feeling irritated, frustrated, depressed, and angry. On the surface, there seemed to be no good reason for the turmoil of emotions. It went on for days and I was miserable. I hated feeling this way. I felt as though I was in a wrestling match.
God, please help me, I begged.
Thankfully, the Lord is faithful and He answered me. He gave me what I like to call “God nudges.” Through advice from a friend, God encouraged me to dig deeper. Not everything can be seen on the surface. When a seed is planted deep within the soil, on the surface we only see a lot of dirt. But inches below the ground there is a struggle going on. It takes time before we see a plant breaking through the soil.
Similarly, I was struggling too. On the surface, it looked like a lot of dirt. But deep down, there was something else going on. I was facing some things in my life that I felt incompetent to handle. God showed me that what I was dealing with in my life was causing my tumultuous emotions. Just like a seed has soil pressing in, I had pressure all around me. And like a plant fighting to push up and out of the soil, I was fighting to break free from the difficulties in my life.
But God is God. Couldn’t He just remove the hard things from my life? Oh how we wish it would work that way, but it rarely does. God revealed something else to me about this situation. My pain had a purpose. Through another nudge, I realized that God was pruning me through this process. I have often asked God to change me and to help me be more like Jesus. But I suppose I thought He would just snap His fingers. I didn’t want or expect to walk through a trial as an answer to prayer.
But this is how it works many times. In our yards, we pull weeds, we remove the dead plants and branches, and we sometimes even have to cut away living growth as well. All of this is done to help our plants flourish, to bring more growth, and to produce fruit. In the same way, God will pull weeds from our lives. He will remove things that aren’t benefiting us. And He will sometimes even cut away good things in our lives, if they don’t fit our purpose.
James 1:2-4 says, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”
Sometimes we might cringe when we hear this verse. Consider it pure joy when we face a trial? Really? Our flesh definitely does not enjoy going through anything difficult.
But from a spiritual perspective, especially if the the difficulty is part of a pruning process, imagine the result if we humbly seek the Lord and open our hearts to whatever it is He is trying to teach us.
I have found that some of the richest times of my life have also been when I was walking through something hard.
This is because when we are broken we tend to run to the Lord and seek Him more than ever. We cling to Him like never before. He lovingly guides and cares for us through our crisis, if we allow Him to.
This is where I found myself recently when I was walking through this pruning process. Pruning can be painful, especially if we don’t realize what is going on. This is how my situation started. I fought the pruning process, kicking and screaming. But now that I am aware of what’s going on, I am more at peace. But one key factor that I learned in all this is that I need to cling to Jesus. If I hold tightly to Him during this process, I will be guaranteed to flourish and produce lasting fruit.
Jesus said in John 15:5, “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.”
How beautiful and amazing that our Heavenly Father loves us that much to prune us and to help us grow. That is true love. If He didn’t love us, He would turn away from us, rather than help us. But He loves us enough to teach us and mold us.
If you are going through something difficult, I encourage you to look below the dirt to see what might be going on under the surface. Is there more than meets the eye? Pray about it and ask God if He is trying to teach you something or mold you in some way?
If you feel what you’re going through is a pruning process, I know it’s painful. But remember that this is also a sign of the Lord’s love. And remember to cling to The Vine – Jesus. In the end, you will see beautiful growth in your life.
Can you think of a time when you struggled and felt discouraged but later saw what the Lord was doing that you would like to share with us?
What are some times of trials that brought about more spiritual maturity and godly fruit in your life?
Do you need prayer or encouragement? Please let us know!