Saturday, October 22, 2016

Obedient Perseverance in the Pruning Season

Photograph taken from my garden.
Let us commence an awkward topic in the right way; the basis of Jesus, Himself:
“Though He was God’s Son, He learned obedience through what He suffered.
— Hebrews 5:8 (HCSB)
Jesus learned obedient perseverance the only way any of us can learn it; through enduring suffering. And what is suffering other than loss?
Augustine said this on the issue of suffering:
“The same miseries send some to heaven and others to hell. The test of suffering separates the wheat from the chaff in the Church of God: those who in times of tribulation humble themselves to the will of God are wheat for paradise; those who grow haughty and enraged, and so forsake God, are chaff for hell.”
The Twenty-First Century Westerner is likely to scowl at the very mention of hell. Perhaps we don’t need to be carried off to eternal hell to experience the hell of derision against God in this life, which is fuel for haughtiness and enragement, for which there is no recourse to any happiness at all.
In terms of suffering loss, there’s only one recourse to happiness: to trust obediently in perseverance, that God is good, and will ultimately bring good from every loss we suffer well.
This is the theological truth as it unfolds in life: God is a gardener and He delights in perfecting the shape of His creations. This means we, like Jesus (Hebrews 5:8, above), will be pruned, for our own good, and for God’s glory, whether we like it or not. Of course, none of us like it. But can we bear it? Can we persevere obediently through it?
That is the most important question we’ll ever be asked:
How will we respond to loss?
“The primary indicator for a season of pruning
is the suffering of loss.
A season of pruning brings
a loss of finances, possessions, impact, influence,
position, stature, relationship, or opportunity.
To be pruned is to lose the basis
upon which everyone around you
measures you as successful.
Various trials diminish resources and
make secondary and less important pursuits
— Allen Hood
Loss. How could God allow such a heinous thing into our lives? Haven’t we lived faithfully? And this! A reward? God knows. Jesus knows. He suffered, so He knows.
Each of the losses we suffer remove from us dependence on things other than God. Upon the removal of these dependences our identities take mortifying body blows. No wonder loss is the hardest thing we’ll ever have to endure. Loss is meant to break us. Having welcomed our brokenness, having denied it all our lives to this point, we no longer hold fears because of it. Suddenly, no truth can render us vulnerable to fear.
One final thought:
“Nothing derails a believer quicker
than the loss of vision and
a wrongly interpreted season.”
— Allen Hood
We must approach a season of pruning recognising it for what it is — a marathon series of tests designed to purify us for the things God has for us that are still coming. We ought to believe that God is preparing us for something great in His Kingdom, which may still have comparatively small seen impact in this world. He is doing a Kingdom work in us, for His purpose. Nothing could more significant.
God sincerely bless you if you resonate with this material because you feel that you’re in a pruning season. The fact is, God has blessed you with the fortitude you’ve shown thus far, and is blessing you this day and through the ensuing weeks to come.
God will get you through this season, and He will give to you a compensation — a most precious gift — you could not get otherwise. He gives you compassion and a reachable and teachable heart as a down payment.
Gratitude to the International House of Prayer (Kansas City) website blog by Allen Hood, available here:

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