All Things Work Together for Good: Grief, Pain, and Romans 8:28

All Things Work Together for Good: What We Can Learn from Suffering Fruit Trees | Land of Honey

All things work together for good. -Romans 8:28 

I was listening to a podcast with an Italian olive grower and the host asked this question that you could tell the grower thought was incredibly stupid. They had been talking about famously cold winters in years past that had damaged and killed many of his trees, the host asked if it was sustainable to keep growing olives on the outer limits of their temperature capacity. Wouldn't it be better for the olives to be in a warmer climate so they would never be damaged by the cold? Wouldn't it be better if nothing bad ever happened to the trees?

His answer was something like, "Of course it's hard on the trees. They are pushed to their absolute limits because as a gardener, I know they do better if they suffer. Suffering yields good fruit."

That really took me by surprise for a second, but of course it's true. In gardening it's important for plants to suffer or be uncomfortable or to be pruned so that they can be at their absolute best. Being stretched and pushed beyond their limits of comfort is what yields good fruit. Having a winter that is so cold that some branches and trees are lost, means more and better olives down the road. Maybe you won't see that return the very next year, or even for several years, but eventually there is no denying that the fruit is tastier and more abundant.

Are you thinking of John 15? That's where the Messiah told us that we are vines, and his Father is the gardener who prunes good branches so that they bear even more fruit, and he takes away the unfruitful parts. YHWH uses the natural to show us how things work spiritually. And in the natural, those uncomfortable, even painful, challenges are what bring forth the best fruit.

Have there been any suffering or trying circumstances in your life lately? Have you lost a loved one? Were you laid off from your job? Are you facing health challenges or strained relationships? Do you deal with anxiety or have you been stressed out by current events? While I am sincerely sorry for any pain you are in, the good news is that this will yield more fruit if we let it.

Now please hear me: I don't believe that YHWH is sitting up in Heaven passing out disease or starvation or death or abuse because that's what he wants. We live in a broken world and many things happen that are not his desire or best. He doesn't say that bad things won't happen to us but he does promise to use them for our good. And this suffering brings fruit.

As a gardener myself I cannot wish hardship on my plants. It is painful to me to see them suffering from the weather, animal encroachment, a fungus or whatnot. Ironically I spend a fair amount of time in the summer worrying if my tomato plants have enough water - when I know a bit of a drought will force them to take root. They will produce sweeter and tastier tomatoes if they lack water for a time. The plant will be stronger and more resistant to storms and disease. Because that physical challenge and discomfort yields fruit.

How many times have I as a plant or vine wished for a whole lot less suffering? Can you see me? I need water. Get these bugs off. It's too cold here! Doesn't the gardener care? I long for those temperate climates where I am comfortable all the time. I don't want to have to wonder when my provision will show up. 

YHWH is a gardener who wants good fruit. And he is skilled, and knows how to bring that out in us. What if we stopped looking at that verse in Romans like "All things work together for good in spite of the hard times," and more like, "All things work together for good, even because of the hard things"? I can't say that I am excited for pain and trials and the frustrations of life, but I am thankful that when those times come they will be an opportunity for growth and producing the very best kinds of fruit. What if we looked at those places of pain in our lives as the starting point for his amazing healing work in us? What if we were able to use the injustices we have experienced to help someone going through something similar? When we are pushed beyond our limits by life, let that bring out the very best fruits in us. 

So if you are like those olive trees who are hurting from the cold, know that you can survive this and even come out better for it. If you are in a painful season of pruning, know that your branches will become stronger for it. If you are recovering from a cold-snap or lack of water know that eventually you will produce fruit again. All these things will work together for your good.

"For this slight momentary pressure is working for us a far more exceeding and everlasting weight of esteem." -2 Corinthians 4:17

These slight momentary pressures are working for us. - 2 Corinthians 4:17 - encouraging Bible verses | Land of Honey