These past 18 months have truly felt like a marathon and a sprint at the same time. Starting a new senior role in our church, City on a Hill, at a time where we were still recovering from the effects on our church community of the pandemic as well as the challenges faced moving out from our previous church network. There has been a lot of work to be done.

And thank God for all that He has done!

While there has been so much provision and encouragement, there is still lots to continue to happen, last summer I could see clear signs of burnout and was off work for a 4 week period. I’m grateful to my colleagues and friends at City on a Hill and elsewhere who’ve supported and prayed for me during this time.

One of the opportunities this time presented was to reflect and process what God is doing in me.

The purpose of this post is that I wanted to share with you what stood out to me as I wrestled with the question: when we’re trying to do our best by God why do we go through painful moments?

I was drawn to these words that Jesus spoke to His followers during the days before His crucifixion which are found in John 15.

“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunesso that it will be even more fruitful.” Jesus (John 15:1-2)

Our Heavenly Father prunes us and it’s not because we mess up (although along the way we might), and not because we need to try harder (trusting our own effort really doesn’t impress God), God prunes us because He loves us and He has a plan for us to bear more fruit.

For a healthy plant to grow it requires regular pruning of cutting off bits of the plant that are dead, diseased, and damaged.

We live in a fallen world, our hearts deceive us, and our affections can go astray. I’ve found that time after time in my life God will work on my heart to bring me into a closer walk with Him. He’ll surgically deal with the bits inside me that are dead, diseased, and damaged.

This season for me has felt like pruning, and it has indeed been painful. God’s led me to confront areas of pain in my own heart that I’ve carried for a while and brought healing into that.

In the verses above I was deeply encouraged by “every branch that does bear fruit he prunesso that it will be even more fruitful”. We are pruned because we are bearing fruit so that we can bear more fruit.

Yes, pruning is painful.

But pruning is purposeful.

And pruning is powerful.

We may not always know the intricate details of why, when, and how the pruning occurs, however it is the gardener’s responsibility to tend to the branches for their own good and for them to bear fruit for the gardener.

I’m often reminded of Job in the Old Testament. He experienced a lot of unfair circumstances and he is known for the suffering he endured. Throughout the book of Job we hear him justifying his stance for wanting justice to his friends and declaring that he would hold God to account.

After 37 chapter, God finally shows up and speaks to Job “out of the storm”, and He answers a grand total of ZERO of Job’s complaints. Yet God reveals who He is, and that is exactly what Job needed, that is exactly what I need, and that is exactly what you need. We may never get all the reasons and answers to our questions, but we need God to show up and remind us who God is. (Read more about Job’s encounter with God here).

He loves us and He wants us to be more fruitful – not because we’re not being fruitful but because we are!

Sometimes we forget we’re bearing fruit because we see how far we’ve got to go. Let me remind you, if you are being pruned then you are already bearing fruit but you’ve not reached the full God-given potential for producing fruit.

Yes, there’s room for improvement and more things to do for God (spoiler: there always will be this side of eternity). However, our peace cannot come from everything being sorted and perfect. It comes from trusting the Father as He leads and guides us.

But God’s process for bearing more fruit is not by working harder and longer – it’s allowing God to work on your heart, affections and character. God cares more about your heart than your hands because our lives are shaped by what’s inside of us.

But God’s process for bearing more fruit is not by working harder and longer – it’s allowing God to work on your heart, affections and character.

You are a fruit bearer, and please remember that while His pruning is painful, it is also purposeful and powerful.

Thank you Heavenly Father that You choose to prune us, You’ve chosen to love us, You’ve chosen us to be Your sons & daughters. Give us grace to persevere and the humility to keep our minds and hearts fixed on You. Amen.


What is something you’re bearing fruit in? (If you can’t think of anything, ask someone who knows you well what they observe where you’re bearing fruit)

Has there been a time where you know God has pruned you? How did this change you?

Ask God to show you where He is currently working in your life, and invite Him to continue the work He’s already started.

Thanks for reading, what comes to mind as you’re reading this? Have you had a ‘pruning experience’? Share in the comments, I’d love to hear from you, Dan

Further reading

‘Crushing’ by TD Jakes

‘How did I get here?’ By Christine Caine

‘#Struggles’ by Craig Groeschel

‘It’s not over’ by Joshua Gagnon