Recently I wrote a post about how God prunes our lives when they bear fruit.
Pruning involves damaging the plant, traumatizing it, and triggering a healing response. The intent is to improve the plant in the long run so it is more fruitful.
In pondering these things I wondered where the blessing actually begins. Does it begin when the fruit is actually being eaten, or maybe a little before when the fruit is fully ripe and ready to eat? Maybe it is before that when the flower appears or maybe it begins when the pruning starts. Maybe it started long before that when it was conceived in the mind of God eons ago.
Typically, we see blessings as the good things that happen in our lives. When there is joy, happiness, good fortune, etc. we say that we are blessed. Do we think of ourselves as blessed when we are being “pruned?”
And if God prunes with the intent to bless, would that mean that the blessing actually materializes in our lives when the pruning begins?
If God were to tell us all the ways he was going to “bless” us from now until the end of our days and we saw all of the pruning involved how many of us would shrink in fear at what is coming?
Elder Neal A. Maxwell was my favorite apostle who struggled with leukemia. While pondering, the following words came into his mind:
I have given you leukemia that you might teach my people with authenticity.Neal A. Maxwell, “Revelation,” First Worldwide Leadership Training Meeting, Jan. 11, 2003, 6.
The ability to teach with authenticity is certainly a great blessing, but for Elder Maxwell, it came at the price of enduring a difficult struggle; the leukemia was a catalyst.
Questions for pondering
- How could this understanding inform us when we feel like we are being pruned by the Lord?
- Are all blessings pleasant to receive?
- How do we know when we are being blessed, pruned, or punished?
- If there is hardship in our lives right at this moment, what should we do about it?
- How many blessings are we unaware of because our heads are down and our minds clouded in despair?