The Upper Room Devotion for Tuesday, November 21, 2023, was written by Jeannie Hughes of West Virginia.
1 “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinegrower. 2 He removes every branch in me that bears no fruit. Every branch that bears fruit he prunes to make it bear more fruit. 3 You have already been cleansed by the word that I have spoken to you. 4 Abide in me as I abide in you. Just as the branch cannot bear fruit by itself unless it abides in the vine, neither can you unless you abide in me. 5 I am the vine, you are the branches. Those who abide in me and I in them bear much fruit, because apart from me you can do nothing. 6 Whoever does not abide in me is thrown away like a branch and withers; such branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. 7 If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask for whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. 8 My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit and become my disciples.
John 15:1-8 NRSV
Every spring I anticipated the white and black blossoms of my wisteria bursting from the branches. I was always surprised by their bearty, but for the last two years my plants have had fewer blooms. Virginia Creeper vines were slowly strangling my wisteria. Every time my husband and I removed a vine, another one would take its place.
Similarly I have allowed my own circumstances to stifle my relationship with God - losing my son in a car wreck, caring for my mother as she slowly slipped away due to Alzheimer's, and watching my husband struggle with cancer. I was trying to handle all of this alone and found it hard to give control over to God. Instead, I began questioning the challenges. Why was I experiencing so much heartache?
As time passed, I realized I could never bloom alone. I needed to remember that promise of Jesus. He is the true vine, and when we remain connected to Christ, we can find new life springing from heartache or despair.
Pastor Anthony's Thoughts
We all will heartaches and hardships at some point in our lives. The unexpected loss of a job, trouble concieving a child, the failing health of a parent, or the sudden ending of a relationship are heartaches some of have faced. As people of faith, how do cope with the oberwhelming pressure of our hardships and heartaches? Jeannie's reflection provides the answer: "As time passed, I realized I could never bloom alone...He is the true vine, and when we remain connected to Christ, we can find new life springing from heartache or despair." May we all find space to quiet the noise of our challenges that we might revive our connection to Christ.
Dear Lord, help us to turn to you for help so that our love for you can bloom, bringing joy to our lives and glory to you. Amen.