by Emily Conrad
I blame last year’s success.
Our cherry tomato plants produced a bumper crop last year, so this year, I planted a full-scale garden.
I ordered seeds while snow covered the ground. I passed the long, slow spring by starting my seeds indoors. We rotter-tilled a large rectangle in the back yard. I planted my garden, and we fenced it off so the dogs wouldn’t graze on or trample the plants.
Add in some easy weeding and the process I described above is more or less the extent of what I did last year. It was easy. The results, yummy and abundant.
Gardening in 2019 has been an experiment in fencing, buying vegetable plants to replace failed seedlings, starting more seeds late, creative weeding, and, most recently, homemade recipes meant to deter the friendly neighborhood woodchucks from razing the plants. Oh, and more replacement plants.
It was supposed to be so much easier. I was so confident it would be, I wasn’t even worried when I realized woodchucks had moved in next door.
But, oh, those buggers like to eat!
Success was supposed to come easier in other areas of my life, too. I was so confident, even though I know Jesus said we’d have trouble in the world.
Surely in a few areas, success could be easy. And maybe in some areas, it has been. In others, not so much.
When Adam and Eve sinned, difficulty with producing harvests was part of the curse their actions brought on humanity (Genesis 3:17-19).
“The ground is cursed because of you;
in painful toil you will eat of it all the days of your life.”
from Genesis 3:17, NET
Because of a meme I saw on Facebook the other day, I’m reminded of those movie characters who are determined to put a positive spin on what should’ve been an insult. I could see one of them replying, “But you’re saying I will eat of it.”
Yes, by God’s grace, we can still produce a harvest, but it’s a tough business.
Also a sinner, I have no grounds to blame Adam and Eve for my trouble working the soil in the literal garden or in the figurative one of my life as a whole.
But there’s good news.
God doesn’t shy away from helping us in the difficulties our own sinful natures have brought upon us.
God set up Adam and Eve in the garden. He spent time with them, had a relationship with them. They had everything they needed. Their choice to sin introduced death and separation from God. Talk about making things difficult.
But God, in His goodness, didn’t leave us in our difficulty. Jesus died in our place to rescue us from the rift our sin put in our relationship. Now, when we put our faith in Him, our eternity is secure.
But even with secure eternities, we have soil to work.
Very little of value is easy, but God is our Redeemer, and He redeems even the difficulties.
My brothers and sisters, consider it nothing but joy when you fall into all sorts of trials, because you know that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect effect, so that you will be perfect and complete, not deficient in anything. James 1:2-4, NET
God plans longer, more ambitious journeys for us than what we would ever plan for ourselves. He’s after our hearts, not shallow success, and what does a heart need? Endurance. Patience. Steadfastness. Hope that rests in heaven, not on this thorny globe.
Not only this, but we also rejoice in sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance, character, and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us. Romans 5:3-5, NET
Easy success doesn’t instill this kind of character, this kind of faith, this kind of hope.
These trials we go through are working something greater in us than we could attain any other way. And so, when success doesn’t come easy, we can stay the course. In faith. In hope. In the love of our Savior, who leads us even through the valley of the shadow of death.
We need fear no evil. Not or delays or setbacks or enemies–even of the woodchuck variety.
Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will trouble, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? No, in all these things we have complete victory through him who loved us! Romans 8:35 and 37, NET
In Christ, no matter what trials we face, we can rest assured with David that,
Surely your goodness and faithfulness will pursue me all my days,
and I will live in the Lord’s house for the rest of my life.
Psalm 23:6, NET
As I think of all the assurances we have in Christ, all that He does for us and through us, I have to smile about my garden.
God has eternity in His hand. Completely under control.
My garden problems? No match for Him. I imagine I’ll reap a literal harvest, but even if not, God is good and working all things for His purposes.
Whatever the area of life, I have faith we’ll see a harvest in Christ.
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Hands holding soil photo by Gabriel Jimenez on Unsplash
Row of lettuce photo by Kenan Kitchen on Unsplash
Cucumbers photo by Kenan Kitchen on Unsplash
Watering plants photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash
Graphics created on Canva.com.