Monday, August 17, 2009

Of blights and blessings, part 2

In my distress, I called to the LORD, and he answered me. – Jonah 2:2 (NIV)

A little over a week ago, I was sure we’d lost all our tomato and potato plants. Late blight, which was responsible for the Irish potato famine of the 1850s and can destroy an entire crop in a couple of days, had infected our garden.

“I asked God to stop the blight in its tracks,” I wrote on my blog. I believe God could do that. I just had my doubts He would do it. After all, how many of my prayers, some I’ve prayed for 10 years, have gone unanswered? So far, that is. Sometimes I despair of praying about those unanswered items, especially when they involve others.

I was sure all our four dozen tomato plants and four rows of potato plants would have to be pulled and burned. What I didn’t expect was for the blight to stop in its tracks.

Oh, we did lose the potato plants. Every single one of them. But we found usable potatoes beneath the soil. Some are tiny, some are medium-sized, but they are edible. How well they will store, I don’t know. But we’ll use what we can.

As for the tomato plants, we lost all but about a dozen. The plants on the lower end of the tomato patch are still lush and green, showing no sign of blight. Probably these are the blight resistant variety I’d bought and forgotten where I planted.

As for the other plants—some are brown and shriveled from bottom to top, but some show blight only halfway up the plant, with the tops still in blossom and green. Tomatoes on the blight-infected plants are rotting on the vines, but not all of them.

It appears that we may get some tomatoes to eat fresh and maybe even to can. It’s a case of “OGK”—“Only God Knows”—so we’ll have to wait and see.

It’s the same thing with prayer: Sometimes God answers lightning-fast, and all we can say is, “Wow!” Other times God seems to take His dear old time answering, and we cry in despair, “How long, O Lord?”

After being chosen by God and anointed king of Israel, David was forced to live a nomad’s life in the wilderness for years in order to evade a murderously jealous monarch. At one point, he cried in despair, “How long, O LORD? Will you forget me forever?” (Psalm 13:1) David eventually claimed the throne, but during those years of waiting he was being shaped and strengthened.

There was a time I prayed and prayed and prayed for someone who was making life miserable. I, too, cried, “How long, O Lord?” for years, never seeing an inkling of change. That person kept me on my knees, seeking God, clinging to Him, learning to wait. My trust in God was challenged—and strengthened.

Truthfully, I didn’t believe this prayer would ever be answered. This person was a hard nut to crack. And perhaps I wasn’t sure, at that stage in my young faith walk, that God could turn night into day and perform the miracle it would take.

When I was at a low point, a dear, wise Christian woman told me, “When it’s hardest to pray, that’s when you need to pray the hardest.”

Then came the day God answered. And all I could say, and all I can still say, was, “Wow!”

Is there something or someone you’ve been praying for, perhaps for years, and still see no sign of an answer? Does despair have you almost convinced that the answer will never come? Is it getting harder to pray? Is doubt, like a blight, eating away at your faith?

Hang in there, child of God. He hears you. He cares. And He will answer.

In the morning, O LORD, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait in expectation (Psalm 5:3). Even though the wait seems long and the answers aren’t what I want, dear God, I know I can trust You and rest in the knowledge that You hear and answer--always. Amen.

In my distress, I called to the LORD; I cried to my God for help. From his temple he heard my voice; my cry came before him, into his ears. – Psalm 18:6

Special-Tea: Psalm 20

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