Setback or Cutback?
by Micca Monda Campbell

“He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that is will be even more fruitful.” John 15:2 (NIV)

My eldest son is a born leader. That’s a nice way of saying he’s strong-willed. I’ve often heard Dr. James Dobson, President of Focus on the Family, describe determined, strong-willed children this way: “They come into the world smoking a cigar and asking to speak to the administrator of the hospital to complain about the temperature of their room.”

That’s a good definition of my son. For example, in Jr. High, Mitch struggled in his relationship with his basketball coach. Why? Because he didn’t think he was a good coach. While Mitch never said so, his attitude reflected this mind-set, which in turn affected his game. The coach ultimately benched him, and his attitude. Devastated, Mitch couldn’t understand why the coach would bench one of his starting players.

We’ve all been there. You and I have experienced “setbacks” in our jobs, relationships, and even in ministry. These setbacks cause us to wonder, “What’s going on? Why is this happening?” If we’re like my son, you and I may not always see what God is doing behind the scenes. That’s where our key verse comes in.

God is more interested in our character than our comfort. He desires that we produce more spiritual fruit. Therefore, He’s always at work pruning the areas of our lives that don’t match His plans. So, when God allows our world to be turned upside down, we are not experiencing a “setback” but rather a “cutback.” In God’s economy, a cutback can be a good thing because it makes room for more good stuff to come.

However, sometimes the pruning process can feel like it’s going to kill us. I remember one fall when I was pruning my rose bush. My daughter, who loves flowers, was distraught when she saw what I had done to the bush.

“Why did you kill it?” she asked with horror in her voice. I reassured her that I didn’t kill the bush. I only cut it back so that next year it would produce larger and more beautiful roses.

Though it may feel like it at times, I assure you that God is not trying to kill us either. The Lord cuts us back in order to produce more—more Christ-like fruit in our words, attitudes, and deeds.

Eventually, Mitch apologized to his coach for his attitude and for not performing up to his potential. Ah, a new bud of humility was beginning to sprout! That’s the positive effect of pruning. It stimulates the growth of good fruit. So take a look at your life and see where God may be pruning. Then get ready to produce some fresh fruit.

Dear Lord, at times, Your pruning may be painful, but I will trust You. Help me to see from Your perspective that it’s not a setback, but a cutback that can help me grow in You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Visit Micca Campbell’s blog for more encouragement.

God is Not Through with Me Yet: Holding on to the One Who Holds You Close by Thelma Wells

The 7 Hardest Things God Asks a Woman to Do by Kathie Reimer and Lisa Whittle

Application Steps:
If you’re experiencing a cutback, ask God what He is trying to produce in you? Is it the fruit of the Spirit (Gal 5:22)? Allow God to work, and watch how fruitful you become.

What do you think God is trying to produce through your cutback?

Have you experienced pruning in this area of your life before? If so, why do you think God is pruning you again?

Power Verses:
Galatians 5:22-23, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control…” (NIV)

Matthew 7:20, “Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them.” (NIV)

© 2008 by Micca Campbell. All rights reserved.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hello! The first thing I thought of was the correlation with my own 'first born' and the "determination" (aka strong will) :^) I can relate to your situation.

Secondly, I am thinking of my own strong will and how I can be so 'right' when perhaps God is trying to get me to see another perspective. Sometimes I am 'right' at the expense of relationship. That thought gives me cause to re-think my own be more slow to speak and more quick to hear.

God HAS been is PAINFUL! It has felt like 'death' sometimes...and in a way it is...death to old negative thinking, death to fearful, worrisome ways, death to a critical/judgemental spirit...etc. I am looking forward to some new fruit....beautiful new fruit!, JOY, PEACE, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control!

These are the evidence of the abundant life Jesus promised those who follow Him!

Blogger Jennifer said... ladies are killing me with these devotions! Between this one and the "gut wrenching prayers" posted by Rachel Olsen I practically feel like God has reached right down from Heaven and smacked me in the face.

First I learned from Rachel that it is ok to question God but that instead of asking for what I want in my situation I should ask for the comfort to make it through. Then today I find this devotion that speaks about God taking things away in order for us to grow more in Him. Well God did take something away from me; a very precious relationship that I am extremely heartbroken over. Unfortunately, I feel from reading this article that this may be God's way of telling me that what he did was for my own good and that as painful as it is I am going to grow from it. I also feel as though he is telling me I am not going to get this relationship back in the way I want it which is very hard to swallow.

Thanks so much for your devotion and helping me to gain some understanding into why God has cut this branch from my tree.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you!! I am just coming out of a time of pruning and am realizing that God pruned certain parts of my life in order to give me something better in those areas that if He had not pruned them for me I never would have even looked for the better options for those areas of my life.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you for helping me see that the Lord is pruning my character right now. Thanks for the encouragement.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am one of "them", the strong willed 1st born. God is pruning me...again. I think it's hard for us stubborn people to wait on the Lord, listen and be still. I want my problem solved now, no time for waiting. I see a solution so lets get to it. But God says, "wait. Be still, I am God. I know what's best for you." Please pray for me to learn my lesson this time around.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

thanks this is right on target for me, i have been going through pruning myself and it has made me see i don't want the old things, hate, bitterness, and envy but the real and true fruit of the spirit. thanks again

Blogger Christin said...

Very good, thank you!

Blogger Maresa said...

these devotions are awesome. They have helped me so much to stay focused! Thank you

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you for this Devotion today. I had not visit your site in about 3 weeks, but I felt an urgency to log on in read. I had a very rough day or what the heck a very rough month so far. Especially, today. God is truly pruning me to make me into the woman he has called me to be. It is painful and just today I asked God why. Yes, I am the eldest and a very strong willed silent person. I have the tendency to confront people about issues that bothers me; guess what? people don't really like that. Pray that I learn to let something go. I know I'm working where God would have me to work for this time, I also know this time is almost up. Please pray I walk in his will and not my own.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am a born leader like your son. I struggle with pride and my desires to accomplish a lot. I was starting to feel confident in my own abilities for my graduate program and God sent me two reminders. One in the form of a roommate that has all the struggles He took from me and another with money issues to remind me of the scholarships that HE gave me. I was taking Him for granted and taking credit for His work -- how foolish. He loved me enough to remind me that I am No One without Him and Someone because of Him and Him alone.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you for the devotion. I can only say Wooooow! Our God is awesome. He speaks so loud and clear. I am undergoing pruning, Oouuch! it does hurt. But today's devotion tells me that the pain is worth it, God's pruning brings about a character in me that pleases my Creator and Heavenly Father. Thank you so much for the encouragement. God Bless you

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for these devotions they truly minister to me every situtation in my life.
God is pruning my husband and I right now it hurts but it will work out for the good.

Thanks again, God bless!

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for these devotions they truly minister to every situtation in my life.
God is pruning my husband and I right now it hurts but it will work out for our good.

Thanks again, God bless!

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I stumbled on your Daily Devotions and now I believe there was a reason. It made my day much better and gave me something to think about other than politics. I certainly plan on coming back to your devotionals.

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