Many Christians often misquote Jeremiah 29:11 about God having plans to prosper Israel and to give her a hope and a future to mean that God only wants to bring pleasant experiences into our lives. But sometimes God afflicts us with painful experiences. Has He done this for you lately?
Jesus said in John 15:2 “Every branch in me that does not bear fruit He takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit He prunes that it may bear more fruit.” Pruning is painful as it involves a knife or blade of some kind to cut away unnecessary things that will keep the branch from bearing fruit.
The branch that doesn’t bear fruit is simply cut off and vs. 6 says it is thrown into the fire (judgment). But the branch which bears fruit still undergoes painful pruning. This is not punishment but a way to keep the branch connected to the Vine and to continue producing fruit – greater obedience, bringing good to the lives of others, doing God’s work in the world.
So Jesus calls us to “abide” in Him (vs. 4). We must allow the storms and painful experiences He brings/allows into our lives to draw us closer to Him. In the storms, trees roots grow deeper. Our hearts are continuously prone to wander from Him. Prosperity and enjoyment can satisfy us to where we are not depending upon God and they dull our spiritual perception. Proverbs 30:8,9 “…give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with the food that is needful for me, lest I be full and deny you and say, ‘Who is the Lord?’”
So when bad things come – that is actually God’s mercy disguised as a trial to make the world around us less attractive.