God created our physical world with seasons, which are always a limited period of time. Seasons come and go, and constantly move on to the next season. Different seasons bring different things—some bring growth, some produce a harvest, and others are a season of pruning.
Jesus often talked about planting and harvesting in His parables because they were things people could see and understand. A great example of this was when Jesus talked about branches bearing fruit in John 15.
¹I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman. ²Every 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. ³Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you. ⁴Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. ⁵I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing. ⁶If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned. ⁷If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you. ⁸Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples. John 15:1-8 KJV
As believers, we are branches in Him. We are all supposed to be part of His vine because we cannot bear any fruit apart from Him. Without Him, we are nothing. All the fruit that we bear comes from Him. The Father is glorified when we bear fruit, so the goal is always to bear fruit.
In verse two, Jesus says that the branches that do not bear fruit will be taken away. And He says that the ones that do bear fruit—He will purge them so that they may bring forth even more fruit. Another word for purging is pruning.
What a Season of Pruning Looks and Feels Like
We all like to bear fruit and be used by God to do great exploits. But a season of pruning is not usually enjoyable. Pruning involves the loss of things and the pain of things being cut back. The removal of once fruitful things from our lives is not easy and is uncomfortable. We have all experienced seasons where we have lost things that we once had—jobs, relationships, possessions, influence, finances, position, stature, opportunity, creativity, etc. There may have been nothing wrong with the fruit that we were bearing in those areas; it may have been wonderful fruit. But the Bible says that in order to bear more fruit, we must be pruned.
When we prune plants, it is because we have a specific plan in mind for them to flourish. But the plants never see it coming in advance. In spiritual seasons of pruning, it is the same. We never know when the season of pruning will come upon us. It may happen suddenly, and we may not feel prepared for it.
Temptations in a Season of Pruning
In these vulnerable seasons, Satan’s kingdom will try to divert us from the true reason we are being pruned. He will try to make it look like it is a result of our failure. He might also try to convince us that God is not faithful. He wants us to accuse ourselves or others. He wants us to blame ourselves, others, or God. But Satan is to blame, and he is only a distraction.
We may be tempted to question whether or not we have sinned and brought this difficulty into our lives. We might want to isolate ourselves and withdraw to what seems safe or under our control. We could possibly doubt our vision and whether or not we are on the right path. Instead, we can cast down those thoughts. And we can choose to change how we see pruning—we can view it as a reward for our faithfulness. We can remember that the reward of bearing fruit is being pruned so we can bear more fruit. We cannot escape all pain, but we can thank Him for a season of pruning and be grateful for the fruit that will come of it.
Abiding in Him
Another key to enduring a season of pruning is in John 15: we must abide in Him. Abiding in Him is essential because we cannot do anything without Him. To abide in Him means to dwell in Him. Abiding is not something where we can come and go—it is where we must stay. When we stay with Him, He will stay with us. The Bible says He will never leave us or forsake us.
Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee. Hebrews 13:5 KJV
We must believe He will stay with us always, even in our confusion. Rather than going into despair, we must trust in Him. In every season, we need to trust God with everything. It may be easier to trust God when things are flourishing, but we also need to trust Him when they are not. We cannot get through this season without Him.
Not More Than We Can Bear
He also promises He will not give us more than we can handle.
There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it. 1 Corinthians 10:13 KJV
God loves us and wants us ready for the next season of bearing fruit, and He will never give us more than we can carry. We cannot change our situation, but we can let go of our need to understand everything happening. God is faithful, and He will help us grow through it. We can trust Him because He can turn everything around for good. God does not like to see us in pain, but He does see the outcome and knows what is necessary for our future.
And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28 KJV
The Fruit of a Season of Pruning
Additionally, difficulty is an opportunity to develop more obedience to God. Losses happen, but we can still be obedient to God. Jesus learned obedience through suffering and then was made perfect or mature. A season of pruning can mature us, just like it did for Jesus. We must endure if we want to grow.
⁸Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered; ⁹And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him; Hebrews 5:8-9 KJV
I believe the Church is in a season of pruning. It is a season of resetting and preparation to bear even more fruit. It is not an easy or comfortable season—but thankfully, pruning does not last forever! Jesus told us we must be pruned to bear more fruit, and pruning prepares us for the next season of bearing fruit. So let us embrace this season and allow God to meet us in it. The exciting seasons of growth and harvest are coming.
Pastor Donna Wright