“He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.” John 15:2, NIV.
The devastation is widespread. Nothing have I seen such as this in all of my years. Hurricane Irma made landfall in September 2017; it was a category five storm with winds peaking at one hundred and eighty-five miles per hour. Six months later, at this writing, I am in Florida on the Gulf Coast, and the cleanup from Irma is still underway.
With today’s technology, it is rare that storms arrive unexpectedly. Satellite images reveal cloud formations and give warnings days in advance, at least for the worst storms. Having the information ahead of time does not stop the storm from happening, it merely allows the time to prepare.
You and I have “storms” that come into our lives every day; some are a category one while others leave us devastated by their fury in the aftermath. Sickness, trials, and death are just a few of the elements that cause damage in and to our human environment. Some suffering is the result of our own doing or perhaps the result of what someone else does. We don’t always have a warning that allows us time to prepare adequately, and even when we do have time, pain always leaves its mark.
Many of the beautiful shrubs and trees are now gone in Florida. Rebuilding has begun, but the pain caused by Irma will be long felt. New plantings are taking the place of old ones. In time, they will grow to be healthy and beautiful. God uses our trials to make us stronger if we will let Him. Writing as one with whom God often prunes, “cutting away” what feels comfortable, hurts. The world we live in and those who live in it are subject to the winds that blow our way. But, through Jesus Christ, God promises to rebuild and replace what is lost. And, one day, all things, including you and me will be made new!