Friday, August 14, 2009

Of blights and blessings

Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will be joyful in God my Savior. –Habakkuk 3:17–18 (NIV)

I spoke too soon.

Wanting to share my joy at the abundant garden harvest we’re enjoying, I took pictures of the lush vegetable plants and posted them on my blog (see previous blog).

“When we planted our garden,” I wrote, “we prayed a blessing over it, then put a fence around it to keep the country critters out, then weeded and cultivated, then prayed some more. God has answered in Ephesians 3:20 ways.”

I then went on to list my harvest to date: 14 quarts of pickled beets, 7 quarts and 40 pints of beans (canned); 32 bags of beans for soup and stew, and 18 bags of pepper strips (frozen). Still to harvest are more beets, beans, carrots, onions, potatoes, squash, pumpkin, tomatoes and peppers.

I even splurged and bought a pressure canner. I figured I’d be busy into October. But that evening, my husband broke the news.

“I don’t know about the tomatoes,” he said, a worried look creasing his tired face.

I glanced up from my computer. “Why?”


No. Forty-eight plants up in smoke. No tomatoes for the soups and stews and tomato dishes we enjoy through the winter.

I wasn’t going to panic, though. We prayed a blessing over the garden, right?

The next morning I asked God to stop the blight in its tracks, if that was indeed the problem. Maybe Dean was wrong. After all, it was getting dark by the time he’d made it to the garden to trim and tie up the tomatoes, which I’d described as a forest on my blog.

I googled “blight” + “tomato plants” + “Pennsylvania.” What I read wasn’t good. “Late blight,” as it’s called, has been running rampant in Pennsylvania since June and thrives on cool, wet weather, which has defined most of the summer. Not only can this blight wipe out an entire tomato field quickly, but it also affects potatoes.

“An infected plant,” I read, “would show a white mold on the underside of the leaf.”

I stared at the photo of an infected leaf, then pulled on my sandals and marched through the wet morning grass to the garden.

The tomato plants were lush no more. Withered, brown leaves spread from the bottom up.

Maybe, I thought, it’s just that the plants were so full, they aren’t getting enough air. A good trimming is all they need.

I leaned across the fence, plucked off a leaf and turned it over. White mold ringed the brown. I checked the potato plants, which I’d thought were dying off naturally. White mold there, too.

Does that mean God didn’t answer my prayer when I asked Him to bless my garden? If that’s the case, then why bother to pray about anything?

I can believe God didn’t hear, didn’t answer and doesn’t care. I can moan and groan and curse my luck. But that will just allow bitterness, like the blight, to infect my spirit.

Daniel wasn’t spared from the lions’ den. Neither were Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego spared from the fiery furnace. They were spared in it. They went to the lions’ den and the furnace trusting God, whether He spared them or not (Daniel 3 and 6). Even Job said, “Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?” (Job 2:10)

What about me? Do I trust God?

A resounding Yes!—even though my four dozen tomato plants and four rows of potato plants will have to be pulled and burned.

I’ve still plenty to be thankful for: 61 sparkling jars in my pantry, 50 bags of homegrown veggies in my freezer, more veggies to harvest, and a faithful, loving God that still has the whole world—and that includes my garden—in His capable hands.

And, Lord willing, there’s always next year.

Thank You, God, that You are in control and not me. Amen.

Special-Tea: Psalm 100

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