Sunday, September 2, 2012

That stinks!

In all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. – Romans 8:37 NIV
When we planted our garden in late May, I’d hoped it would be a good year—one with perfect weather—not too wet, not too dry, not too cool, not too hot—and no blight to ruin the tomatoes we so look forward to. As the garden season progressed, it appeared it would be a banner year for tomatoes. The two dozen plants were laden with plump fruit, with no blossom-end rot, for a change. I envisioned tomato sandwiches and sparkling jars of home-canned tomatoes on my pantry shelves, plenty for the soups, stews, and casseroles we enjoy through the winter.
Then I noticed the spots, like white measles, on both the ripening fruit and the green. I hadn’t seen anything like it in the 30-plus years we’ve been gardening, so I did some online research. What I discovered surprised me: It isn’t a blight, which I expected, that’s causing the damage—it’s stink bugs!
How could I get rid of these pests? The tomatoes were ripening, so I wanted to avoid insecticides. I bought a trap and hung it in the middle of the tomato patch, but then next day, it was still empty. So I tried plucking the bugs off and dropping them in hot, soapy water. After half an hour, I got six whole stink bugs. I felt outnumbered, overwhelmed, and frustrated.
Surely there was some way I could save my tomatoes! Back online I went.
“This is an extremely difficult pest to monitor and control,” I read on one site. “There are no good methods of monitoring them. Traps do not work well except for just a few species of stink bug, and visually scouting for them has proven to be unreliable and too time consuming.”
Sigh. Now what?

“Maybe we should save the money, time and hassle, and buy fresh produce from a farmer’s market,” I told my husband.
But we’d miss out on so much: the satisfying work that goes into preparing, planting, and cultivating, the thrill of watching something you planted and nurtured grow, the pleasure that comes with working hard for something and eventually—barring blight, bugs and bad weather—enjoying the fruits of your own labors.
Isn’t that just like life? None of us is immune to the disappointments that threaten to rob us of the joys of living, of working, of having something to show for all our efforts.
What do you do when disappointment strikes? Throw in the towel? Or move past it?
Me? I refuse to dwell on the failures, the disappointments, the things over which I have no control. I know Someone who is in control. That doesn’t mean life’s going to be perfect and everything I do is going to be successful. What it does mean is that God helps me to get through the disappointments by giving me a glimpse of the bigger picture. What’s a few stink bugs in the whole scheme of eternity?
I’m already planning for next year’s garden—stink bugs or no.
Thank you, Lord, for showing me the bigger picture and for giving me the hope I need to press on. Amen.      
Special-Tea: Romans 8:28–39


  1. Love this, Michele. Inspires me not to despair and take the easy way out, but to let God's plan unfold. Thanks.

  2. Nicely done, Michele. A great reminder to let things happen in God's time, no matter how discouraged we get. Thanks.