As long as we stay connected to the vine—Jesus--we will thrive. We will have ALL we need. Nothing will be lacking. But if we wander away from Jesus, trying to figure out life on our own or trying to get away from difficult conditions—we will wither and die. We will be fruitless. Apart from Jesus, we can do NOTHING.
Paul says it this way,”...I have learned to be content in any and all circumstances of life, whether well-fed or hungry, when I'm living in plenty or going without. I have the strength of Christ within me who empowers me. He satisfies me and allows me to endure all things. When I have Him, I have ALL I need.
In Corinthians, he says that he rejoices in the difficulties, for when he is weak, the strength of Christ flows freely in him. Jesus told him that His grace is MORE than enough. His free flowing favor is undeserved, good and completely satisfies—leaving nothing lacking. We have ALL we need in Him. We press into Jesus and find that we always have enough. Meanwhile, our Father, the gardener is disciplining us, training us, and correcting us. It's a painful process, but he does it out of a heart of love and a mind of perfect and complete wisdom. He knows exactly what we need. Exactly. His goal is to produce MUCH fruit, a harvest of righteousness and peace. His desire is that we might share in His holiness. His desire is to bring only good into our lives.
We must accept whatever He brings into our lives and entrust ourselves wholly and unreservedly to the Father and His ways of working. We must submit ourselves to Him, not fighting, not resisting, not grumbling, and complaining or wishing it all away.
But know that our Father's ways are perfect and good and press into Jesus and find ALL that you need.
A grape vine in its natural habitat given ample water supply and nutrients is a vine which likes to climb but produce small bunches of tart grapes. It would rather use most of its energy making leaves and shoots. The shoots enable it to attach itsself to other plants or it can develop new root systems if in contact with the ground. In short, a grape vine left to itsself isn't ideal for growing grapes. It takes cultivation by a farmer in order to create the conditions which produce an abundance of sweet grapes.
A friend of mine and her husband own a vineyard, and I remember her talking about the need for grapes to be under stress. Vines need to struggle in order to produce good quality grapes. But when the farmer puts the vine under stress, by making its nutrients scarce, restricting water, and pruning them back hard, and crowding them with neighbors, it focuses its energies on making grapes. Instead of devoting its effort in increasing its own size, it instead focuses on reproducing itsself. That means making grapes. But in this process, the farmer must be careful not to overstress the plant. Overstressing will prohibit growth, grape production and makes it more susceptible to disease. So the farmer must carefully cultivate just the right environment which brings maximum fruit production.
Not enough stress= a large vine with lots of leaves but little fruit
Too much stress = a vine that won't produce fruit
Either way, no grapes.
So the vine's caretaker must wisely, and carefully cultivate a balanced environment that keeps the vine healthy and producing LOTS of sweet fruit.
And so our caretaker must do the same for us. If Jesus is the vine and we are the branches, we are subject to the same treatment Jesus endured. He learned obedience through what he suffered. The Master Caretaker orchestrates the events of our lives. He knows exactly the right amount of hardship is needed in our lives in order to produce the maximum amount of fruit. We need only to entrust ourselves into His masterful hands.
Here is the point.
We NEED hardship(stress) in our lives in order to produce MUCH fruit. We need pruning. We need to have certain things cut from our lives. We need to have certain things withheld from us. We need difficult conditions. But we will grow beautifully under these conditions if we stay connected to the vine. If we are wholly submitted to the care of our Caretaker.
We must give up demanding that God explain Himself to us.
We must give up demanding that God do it our way.
We must give up trying to understand what God is doing.
Just give up
and entrust yourself into the arms of our caring and loving Father.
Trust his heart.
Trust His power.
Trust His perfect wisdom.