Fruitful Trials (Proverbs 14:4) - Radical

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Fruitful Trials (Proverbs 14:4)

Where there are no oxen, the manger is clean, but abundant crops come by the strength of the ox.
– Proverbs 14:4

Is that not a great proverb? Did you catch what it’s saying? Let me say it again and then I’ll explain it, but I think it’ll be obvious. Just make sure to listen closely. Where there are no oxen, the manger is clean. But abundant crops come by the strength of the ox. Who wouldn’t like a clean manger? Who wants to walk into a dirty, smelly manger? And yet a clean manger is only possible when there are no ox in it. And as soon as you have an ox, you’ll have a really dirty manger, but you’ll also have abundant crops. Whereas with a clean manger, you’d have no crops. And the picture there is obviously there would still be crops in the field. But this passage is talking about the role that oxen play in bringing in the abundance of the crops.

Proverbs 14:4 teaches us that labor and challenges bring forth fruit.

And all of this to say, Proverbs 14:4 is a reminder to us that getting to abundant crops or getting to abundant fruit in our life won’t always be clean. It will oftentimes involve a mess, but that mess can lead to fruit far beyond what you could ever experience if everything was nice and tidy. Can you think of examples of that in your life where something was hard or complicated, challenging, but in the end it led to something so great and wonderful that made all the challenges and all the hard worth it.

I can think of so many things like that in my life, even just thinking about my home filled with children who God brought to our family, abundant fruit, but through hard years of infertility, through hard years of adoption, through hard years of waiting in the most recent circumstance and through all kinds of challenges and complications that they’ve walked through and that we walked through in those processes.

But praise God for the fruit of children from those hard, complicated, challenging days, months, and years. So trust God, even when things are not clean and tidy, nice and comfortable, you would like them just like anybody would, like a clean manger, but realize that it’s in the hard, it’s in the challenging, that abundant, beautiful, wonderful things happen according to God’s good design.

Proverbs 14:4 encourages us to trust God in challenging circumstances.

So God, we pray that you’d help us to trust you in the mess of life. I know that there are people listening to this right now who are walking through all kinds of different pictures of the mess of life, of the challenges of life, of the complications and things that they wish were different. Oh God, I pray. And in the middle of it, you would help them, help us all to trust in you and to trust that you are working in ways we don’t see that there will be on the other side of this, in our lives, in others’ lives for your glory.

Not just now, but potentially fruit for all of eternity through what you’re doing right now. God help us to trust in you. Even when we don’t understand, we can’t even imagine how this would lead to good. God, we pray knowing that you are the God who specializes in taking what the adversary intends for evil and turning it into good, that this is the gospel message that gives us this hope… That you took the sinful murder of your only son, to bring about our salvation, to bring about abundant, eternal life for us now and forever. God, we praise you for your ability to turn evil into good, to take all things, all of them, and work them together for good. So do what we pray in all the circumstances in our lives now and in the days to come. We trust in you.

Prayer for the Giziga People

God, help us on days when it’s hard to trust in you. And God along these lines, we pray all the time… This podcast is for unreached people, and we do that today. We pray specifically for the Giziga people of Cameroon, 150,000 of them without the gospel. And we pray God for all those who are working in different places around the world, to spread the gospel, to unreached people like the Giziga who are doing the hard work, who are walking through the complicated challenging days and weeks and months and years of working to get the gospel where it’s not yet gone.

God, help them to trust you in the heart, to follow you through the heart, to proclaim the gospel through the heart in ways that yield abundant eternal fruit, abundant crops for all of eternity in the form of souls, of men and women saved from their sin. We pray all this according to your Word in Proverbs 14:4. In Jesus’ name, amen.

David Platt

David Platt serves as a pastor in metro Washington, D.C. He is the founder of Radical.

David received his Ph.D. from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary and is the author of Don’t Hold Back, Radical, Follow MeCounter CultureSomething Needs to ChangeBefore You Vote, as well as the multiple volumes of the Christ-Centered Exposition Commentary series.

Along with his wife and children, he lives in the Washington, D.C. metro area.


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