Why does life hurt so much?

An old apple tree had sat in its place in the backyard for decades. It had faithfully born fruit for many years. Countless jugs of fresh apple juice; scrumptious apple pies; delicious apple sauce; and so much more. It felt pleased with its contribution to the family’s health and happiness. It felt, well, useful.

One day, the man of the house came out to visit the old tree. He typically brought a basket with him to gather fruit. Not this time. Instead, he brought with him a shiny pair of giant scissors. Shears, he thought they were called. The tree stared at these with a mix of bewilderment and curiosity.

That soon turned to fear, shock and outrage.

The man cut deeply into the flesh of the tree. If it could speak, it would have let out a wail of agony. Instead, the tree suffered in silence. As the man continued to cut away at the tree, even removing entire limbs with skilful strokes, the tree felt a stirring of resentment inside. What had the tree ever done to hurt the man? Why was the owner so angry and cruel today? Had the tree not served him and his family faithfully over the years? How, then, did the tree deserve such harsh treatment?

It wasn’t fair.

The tree felt horribly betrayed. He was hurt – both physically and emotionally.

Then, as quickly as the man had come, he left, taking the shiny instrument of pain with him.

Months passed.

April came, the peak season of harvest. Time to bear fruit, as the tree had done for years.

A strange thing happened. The tree was surprised, because his limbs were borne down with the weight of all the apples. Never had he produced so much fruit!

“I wonder,” he sought, “if my increased fruitfulness has anything to do with those horrible, sharp shears?”

Indeed it did.

The most generous vine, if not pruned, runs out into many superfluous stems and grows at last weak and fruitless: so doth the best man if he be not cut short in his desires, and pruned with afflictions.  Joseph Hall

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