The Upper Room devotional reflection for Sunday, July 26th comes to us from Esther MacDonald of Quebec, Canada.
Hebrews 12:4-11 NRSV 4 In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. 5 And you have forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as children— “My child, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, or lose heart when you are punished by him; 6 for the Lord disciplines those whom he loves, and chastises every child whom he accepts.” 7 Endure trials for the sake of discipline. God is treating you as children; for what child is there whom a parent does not discipline? 8 If you do not have that discipline in which all children share, then you are illegitimate and not his children. 9 Moreover, we had human parents to discipline us, and we respected them. Should we not be even more willing to be subject to the Father of spirits and live? 10 For they disciplined us for a short time as seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, in order that we may share his holiness. 11 Now, discipline always seems painful rather than pleasant at the time, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.
I was going through a rough patch in my relationship with someone very dear to me. I felt that I had done nothing to deserve the painful words and attitudes. Angry and resentful, I knew that I could either shut this person out or lean on God. I chose to lean on God.
As I prayed, cried and read my Bible, I experienced God’s comfort. I was reassured of God’s dep love for me and reminded to find my worth in God. (See 1 John 3:1.) but something else was at work in me that I wasn’t prepared for. God gently helped me to see my wrong attitudes and actions toward the person who had hurt me and showed me how that had caused some of their behavior. I felt God was using this experience to prune me.
At first, I was mad. How had someone’s wrong treatment of me turned into a conviction for my soul? It didn’t seem fair. Then I remembered what pruning does: it cuts away what is harmful, unnecessary or growth inhibiting. The result is healthy growth and bountiful fruit. Instead of resenting this person, I decided to be grateful that my loving God was “cutting me back” so that I could spring forward with new growth and healthier relationships.
Prayer: Dear God, give us the peace to accept pruning from your loving hands. Amen.
– Esther MacDonald
Pruning is not comfortable, but it is necessary to provide room for continued growth. Our faith, consistently nurtured, needs room to grow. As our faith grows, it impacts our worldviews, influences our biases and impedes our prejudices.