Saturday, February 12, 2011

Suffering and the vinedresser...

“I am the vine and my Father is the vinedresser.  Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes that it might bear more fruit.” John 15: 1-2

This is what my pastor calls a “coffee cup verse.”  You see this verse everywhere. “I am the vine and you are the branches.”  The following is an excerpt from an article written by Elisabeth Elliott and she quotes Ugo Bassi a monk from the 1800’s.

"But the life of the vine is not of pleasure or of ease.  Almost before the flower fades the fruit begins to grow, but instead of being allowed to grow where it will it is tied immediately to a steak and forced to draw out of the hard hillside its nourishment.  When the “fair shoots begin to wind and wave in the blue air and feel how sweet it is,” along comes the gardener with pruning hooks and shears, “and strips it bare of all its innocent pride… and cuts deep and sure, unsparing for its tenderness and joy.”
When the vines bends low with the weight of the grapes, “wrought of the long-striving of its heart.”  The hands are ready to tear down the treasures of the grapes; the feet are there to tread them in the winepress, “until the blood red rivers of the wine run over, and the land is full of joy.”  But the vine standeth stripped and desolate, having given all and now its own dark time is come and no man payeth back to it the comfort and the glory of its gift.  Winter comes and the vine is cut back to the very stem, despoiled disfigured, left a leafless stock, alone through all the dark days that shall come. 
And, while the vine undergoes this death, the wine it has produced is gladdening the heart of man.  The vine is not bitter for the torment it has undergone, not barren for the fullness it yielded up.  The vine from every living limb bleeds wine; is it the poorer for that spirit shed?  Measure your life by loss instead of gain, not by the wine drunk but by the wine poured fourth: For loves strength standeth in loves sacrifice, and those who suffer most, hath most to give.”

The cross to us is worth more than all of the miracles Jesus performed. Through his suffering He was made perfect and learned obedience.  Through His suffering we receive salvation. Through OUR suffering we gain that which we could not accomplish for ourselves.  So, he lends us His sorrows, he comforts us Himself.   We suffer because the world and everything in it is broken with sin.  He uses that suffering as he promises to use all things, for our good and for His glory.

“Therefore let those who suffer according to God’s will entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good.”  1 Peter 4:19

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