The Fruit of Discipline: How to Get Through the Hard Times

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The Fruit of Discipline: Is the Pain Worth It pin with a picture of a piece of fruit in a garden.

Do you think the fruit of discipline is worth it? I mean really, who in their right mind would ask God for a trial?

Yet, God allows things to happen to us that we don’t understand. The Bible says to count it all joy when we have a trial. (James 1:2-4)

Haha! I am laughing. Does that count as joy? Count it all joy? Really? I must have a typo in my Bible.

I keep telling God I am refined enough. He doesn’t seem to listen to me. He just keeps sending more trials my way. I am still not on board with this whole trial thing. I wonder if the pain is worth it.

Last week I got a wonderful word picture of the fruit of discipline. It really helped me understand why we have trials. Strangely, I got this revelation through a squash plant. Weird, I know.

In this post, I am going to illustrate to you the fruit of discipline through a word picture. By the end of the story, you will understand why our trials are worth it.

It might even answer why the question of why bad things happen. I hope to help you realize God is not that mean man in the sky with a lightning bolt, waiting to zap you.

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The Fruit of Discipline: How to Get Through the Hard Times in Your Life

The Squash Plant

Last week my sister thought she would gross me out by texting a picture of a squash vine borer. She gave me all the gory details about how she was cutting them out of her squash plant and smashing them with her bare hands.

Yuck.

She was looking for a reaction when she sent the picture. And I did not disappoint. A squash vine borer inside of the vine.

I told her she was gross and sent her a few GIF’s to further my point. She had a good time getting a reaction out of me.

She thinks she’s so funny when she does this. After we traded a few humorous texts, I got curious. I wanted to know even more about her garden.

My sister is an organic gardener, so she was more than happy to share her knowledge. What I learned is that quiet little plot of land in her backyard actually has a lot of drama going on out there.

Her plants tell an amazing story. Hopefully, you will see the fruit of discipline by the end, and why it is worth it.

The Battle Between Good and Evil

There is a battle between good and evil taking place in my sister’s garden. You wouldn’t know it by looking, but there is a villain (squash borer), a hero (compost), good soldiers (bees), and a king. Actually a queen.

My sister, the queen, has a blissful bond with her kingdom. She oversees her plants (subjects) as a loving mother would care for her children.

Carefully, she plants each seed in the soil and nurtures them like her own babies. She watches all the plants grow and helps them to become a productive member of the kingdom, er, garden.

I like a good story. 

She spends many hours watering, adding in homemade compost and doing special things to attract good insects like butterflies and bees. It is a real labor of love. She is constantly on the lookout for predators who would attack her precious plants.

The day my sister texted me the picture of that nasty squash vine borer, she was doing surgery. She noticed her squash plant would bloom, but then it would drop its flowers.

It was a bit confusing to her because the plant looked healthy. It had a big root at the base, lots of growth, and the leaves were a nice green color. And the plant was enormous in size. The root of the squash plant.

In fact, it was so big, it was crowding out the other plants on the trellis who were actually producing fruit. It was taking up space and sucking up nutrients. Upon further examination, she noticed a gooey mess towards the bottom of the stalk.

After looking more closely, she found the enemy was a squash vine borer. It bored its way into the stalk and was eating from the inside out.

To make matters worse, it was leaving this disgusting oozy mess. It’s the borer’s poop. This predator has an insidious tactic to destroy the plant slowly from the inside.

The squash vine with all the oozy mess from the squash vine borer.

Since my sister has an organic garden, her choices for dealing with the problem (the enemy) are limited. She can improve the soil, do surgery/pick out the squash borers, or let it die.

Surgery on the Squash Plant

My sister chose to do surgery. It is very tedious work, but necessary if you want to save the plant.

Surgery involves using a sharp knife to cut open the stalk. One must dig around looking for the squash borers, use tweezers to pick out the bugs, and then kill them so they don’t come back to eat it again. 

I think she smashes them by hand just to gross me out. 

Interestingly, surgery is messy. If you look closely, you can see the gooey guts on the utensils.

To make matters worse, it has a horrible smell when you open up the stalk. It is not a pleasant experience but necessary to save the plant.

The squash vine borer being pulled out of the vine with tweezers.

My sister pulled out five squash borers in that small four-inch space. Those little monsters were destroying the whole plant.

It is amazing how these little pests can do so much damage to a huge plant. Here is one she found lurking on the ground right by the plant. See how it is camouflaged!

 The squash vine borer hidden on the ground waiting to get into the plant.

Here  (look below) is what the plant looks like after she cleaned it out completely. It has a big hole, but there is a better chance the squash will live and bear fruit.

She loves her kingdom, uh, plants, and wants them to survive. She is hoping for the fruit of discipline.  The cleaned out squash vine with not squash vine borer poop.

My sister, the queen-gardener, added more compost to the roots after she finished her surgery. She continues to deal with the root problem which is the soil.

Healthy soil is a long-term remedy for keeping predators away.

This is an interesting fact: When a plant is weak, it actually attracts predators to come to eat it. This is nature’s way of dealing with a sick plant. Otherwise, we would have millions of decomposing plants sitting around on the ground.

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Act of love

When I looked at the squash vine borer and all the damage it was doing, I understood why my sister decided to cut the plant. It was an act of love to save the squash from being pulled up and thrown in the compost pile.

This is not much different than what God does with us.

He sees when we have been infected by the enemy (Satan). If we allow it, the Master Gardener will go in and do surgery.

The knife He uses is usually in the form of a trial. We get cut, and it hurts.

We think God is being mean to us when, in fact, He is trying to save us. Unfortunately, we are so blind that we don’t see we are being eaten alive by our own sins. And wallowing in our own stinky mess.

Relate: Self-Pity: 4 Ways to Keep From Wallowing

To add insult to injury, we miss the fact that Satan is lurking at our doorstep constantly waiting to do more damage. He is just like the squash borer who is camouflaged near the roots and waiting for round two.

God, in His love, is trying to clean things up and strengthen us at the roots with good soil.

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The Fruit of Discipline: Is the Pain Worth It?

The Fruit of Discipline

God wants to purify us by getting rid of the problem. He sees we are big and healthy (successful), but we are not producing any fruit because of our hidden sins. Perhaps we are even sucking the life out of others pretending to be something we are not.

And guess what? When God starts cutting, it stinks and it hurts. Then we complain because we think God doesn’t love us. Isn’t it ironic that we don’t realize we are the ones who created the mess in the first place by allowing the sin?

Related: Why I Teach My Kids to Wait Until Marriage

Our sin is smelly and painful. Going through the refining process is an oozy, gooey mess. God, who is the Master Gardner, lovingly cuts out only enough to remedy the problem. We can trust His hand of discipline.

There may be a big hole after the sin is gone, but it is not enough to kill us. We now have a chance to live a life of faith that will produce fruit.

The fruit of discipline is worth it. Otherwise, we are useless in His garden.

Do you have a few squash vine borers in your life? We all do at one time or another. There is no judging here.

I struggle with trust and fear. God is constantly sending trials that force me to trust Him. And to not be afraid. I don’t particularly like it, but I am letting Him do surgery in my life. 

Related: Are You Stuck in a Bad Situation: 3 Ways Out

Ripping Out Plants, Weeds, and Composting

Next week, I will be talking about ripping out plants, weeds, and composting. (Dealing with failure.) If you have a whole lot of crap in your life, this post is for you.

Related: Can God Use a Horrible Failure or Loss?

God uses everything for His glory. Composting is all about poop and how good it is for the soil. Hope you aren’t too squeamish. Who knew there would be so much drama in a backyard!

Do you have any good garden stories? Share it in the comments.

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24 Comments

  1. Anna on June 2, 2019 at 11:44 pm

    I love it, such profound message. A lot of things have happened recently in my life and I keep asking myself what’s the message God is trying to teach me. I keep telling myself it’s God’s way of testing me and maybe preparing me for something great to come. I know he’s watching out for me. Thank you for this wonderful post.

    • Julie Plagens on June 5, 2019 at 9:18 am

      Anna, I am so glad this was a meaningful word picture for you. I keep going back to it when I am having a difficult time with something. I know the Master Gardener loves his plants and he wants them to thrive, but it sure doesn’t feel like it when he starts cutting. I guess I would rather have some cutting than being cut down and thrown in the fire because I am useless! Thanks for your comment.

  2. Jessi on August 17, 2018 at 12:19 pm

    What an inspirational message here! Wow! God spoke to my heart through this. I need to share it. We – as a family – have been going through “surgery” lately. Many times we don’t understand why! and we get frustrated. But then we look up and we say, okay Lord, I trust you. I know you know better. Thank you for sharing this.

    • Julie Plagens on August 17, 2018 at 12:42 pm

      I am so glad God is using this post to help someone else. I never know if I am the only one getting surgery. Mentally, I have to keep going back to this word picture to understand God’s love. I am one of those that will start whining and wondering where God is in the mess.
      I will pray for grace to help you through your trials. I am so sorry you have been hit. Just know it is God’s love that will hold you through until the end.

  3. vaishali on August 17, 2018 at 9:05 am

    We had problems with squash bug in our garden too. very interesting way of connecting it with your faith..:)

    • Julie Plagens on August 17, 2018 at 12:45 pm

      Nature speaks in ways you can hear when maybe anything directly about God is offensive. Nature certainly does reflect life in so many ways. One has to wonder who is the Designer at some point!

  4. Jen @ Jenron Designs on August 16, 2018 at 11:31 am

    It is amazing how all the truths are all arounds us, literally staring us in the face all the time, but we have to be willing to see it, then understand and embrace in order really learn from it. There are many simple messages, much like this one happening daily, but our lives are too busy and convoluted, to stop and see them, let alone understand or interrupt them. This is why so many of us are so lost and are easily lead astray.

    • Julie Plagens on August 17, 2018 at 12:48 pm

      Jen, I couldn’t have said that any better. We are busy little creatures who don’t stop and look at the life lessons right in front of us every day.

  5. Chantel on August 16, 2018 at 5:23 am

    We must all go through hardships in order to learn and grow. Thank you so much for a wonderful post! Definitely made me think 🙂

    • Julie Plagens on August 17, 2018 at 12:49 pm

      Chantel, I am so glad it got you to think. I enjoy growing my readers as I grow.

  6. Pracreation on August 16, 2018 at 3:49 am

    Nature teaches us many things! It’s so good to read your experiences.

  7. Amy @ Orison Orchards on August 14, 2018 at 3:53 pm

    I love this analogy! It’s such a beautiful way of thinking about trials and hardships, and can even make you miraculously grateful for the hard times!

    • Julie Plagens on August 17, 2018 at 12:51 pm

      Yes, every time I start to doubt God’s love, I think about the ways He has worked in the past. His loving hand has always guided me through the terrible heartaches. He is there through the surgery.

  8. Jennifer Morrison on August 14, 2018 at 9:38 am

    What a beautiful, although sometimes painful truth! This has been a year of paring and pruning in my life. It has been painful at times. I have been praying for God to move in one specific area. Everything else I can take, but pressed in asking God to move because I believed it was his will. Yesterday, He did! It is so worth the pruning and paring when we know that God has His best interest at heart for us. Thanks for sharing!

    • Julie Plagens on August 17, 2018 at 12:52 pm

      What a wonderful thing to celebrate. I am so happy for you. God continues to prune so we have fruit some day. I like the fruit part, but the trail is not so fun for sure!

  9. Jen @The Frozen Mind on August 14, 2018 at 9:30 am

    This is perfect and it has helped me on a bad day with my chronic illness!

    • Julie Plagens on August 17, 2018 at 12:53 pm

      I have struggled with Chrons disease for 18 years. I understand your pain. I am so sorry.

  10. Mommy & Mia Homeschool Chronicles on August 14, 2018 at 8:55 am

    This is a beautiful illustration especially when paired with the Vine and Branches parable. We have to allow God to cultivate us so that we can grow healthy and bear fruit that lasts.

    • Julie Plagens on August 17, 2018 at 12:54 pm

      Yes, He is the vine and we are the branches. We get our life from Him. God is working even when we can’t see it. He wants us to have life and produce good fruit.

  11. Rose on August 14, 2018 at 6:46 am

    I’ll admit, I fell out of sycn when you started the analogy, even though I’m a garden lover! But I’m so glad I read this post. I absolutely have been having issues, money and house too. Thank you for the chat about trials, the Lord knows I need to reflect on His purposes in this.

    • Julie Plagens on August 17, 2018 at 12:56 pm

      Thanks for staying in there with me until the end. It is a long post. I had a lot to explain! I am so sorry about your trials. I pray God will wrap His loving arms around you and you find the meaning behind the pain.

  12. Sara on August 13, 2018 at 12:31 pm

    Hi, it was such a blessing reading this post.. We all doubt and murmur when going through the trials without knowing that it is God’s way of showing Love to us. Thank you so So much!

    • Julie Plagens on August 13, 2018 at 9:35 pm

      Sara, thank you for your comment. I am so glad it blessed you. It is hard not to murmur when trials are upon us. I have to keep reminding myself that God is love. Everything He does runs through His loving hands. He does it with the utmost care and concern. I appreciate you reading this post.

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