How to Finally Trust God in Difficult Times

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Is it hard for you to trust God in difficult times? Frankly, trust does not come easily for most of us, especially when we are asked to believe in something we can’t see. But that is exactly what God requires us to do, even when it doesn’t make sense-at all.

 In fact, the Bible says to count it all joy when we have a trial (James 1:2-4).

Really? Joy?

Trust AND joy. That is a lot to ask of a person.

In a time of suffering, I asked God to help me understand why He would ask us to rejoice in sorrow and pain. It seemed almost mean to me. In His sovereignty, He gave me a word picture to help explain things from His perspective.

Strangely, He answered through a squash plant. Weird, I know. 

In this post, I am going to help you understand why you can trust God in difficult times. By the end of the story, maybe you will finally understand why our trials are worth it. Perhaps even a reason to rejoice. 

I also hope to help you realize God is not that mean man in the sky with a lightning bolt, waiting to zap you.

RELATED: 5 Greatest Lessons You Can Learn From Suffering

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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. Sadly, they were eating her vines.

Squash vine borer in the vine eating up the plant.

After I got over the initial grossness, I wanted to know more about this nasty creature in her plants.

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 had a lot of drama going on between the dirt and sky.

Her plants told an amazing story. Ironically, a story that revealed to me why we can trust God in difficult times.

RELATED: How to Create Incredible Family Memories

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 ( good soil), and a king. Actually a queen.

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

Carefully, she plants each seed in the soil and nurtures them. Each one is as important as the next. 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.

(Stay with me here so you will understand why you can trust God in difficult times. It’s coming.)

Surgery on the Squash Plant

The day my sister texted 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 a day later. Unfortunately, no flower means no fruit.

My sister was confused by the behavior of this plant; it looked so healthy. It had a big root at the base, lots of growth, and the leaves were a nice green color. Most of all, 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. Not only that, it was sucking precious nutrients.

After a thorough inspection, she noticed a gooey mess toward the bottom of the plant.

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. Gross.

To make matters worse, it was leaving this disgusting, oozy mess that was actually the borer’s poop. This predator had 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) were limited. She could improve the soil, do surgery/pick out the squash borers, or let it die.

RELATED: 5 Awesome Truths When You Feel God Has Left You

Ooey Gooey Mess

My sister chose to do surgery. It was very tedious work, but necessary if she wanted to save the plant.

The surgery involved using a sharp knife to cut open the stalk. She had to dig around looking for the squash borers, using tweezers to tediously pick them out.

Then she had to kill the borers so they wouldn’t come back to eat the vine. 

The surgery was messy. If you look closely, you can see the gooey mess on the utensils.

To make matters worse, it had a horrible smell when she opened up the stalk. It was not a pleasant experience but necessary to save the plant.

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

Five Little Monsters

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

It is amazing how these little pests could do so much damage to a huge plant.

Here is one she found lurking on the ground right by the plant. See how it was camouflaged! How tricky.

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

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

She loved her kingdom, uh, plants, and wanted them to survive.  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 will continue to deal with the root problem in the days to come with good soil.

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

Here 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.

RELATED: Life-Changing Family Advice for Those Hurting

Estranged: Finding Hope When Your Family Falls Apart book.

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God’s Act of Love Hurts

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 into the compost pile.

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

He sees when we have been infected by our enemy, Satan (squash borer). 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 so one day we will produce fruit. 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.

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 ie. His Word.

RELATED: 5 Awesome Hacks to Get Rid of Self Pity Once and For All

Why We Can Trust God in Difficult Times

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?

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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.

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.

We can trust God in difficult times to remove whatever is hindering our growth. Otherwise, we are useless in His garden and will be pulled up and sent to the compost pile.

Do you have a few squash vine borers in your life? We all do at one time or another. There is no judging here. Let God remove them. Trust that His cutting is a good thing. And, hopefully, one day you will rejoice when it is over and you are healed from the trial.

RELATED: The 6 Best Secrets to Stop Living in Fear

Do You Have a Lot of Crap in Your Life?

If you have a whole lot of crap in your life, check out the post about composting–Dealing with failure. This post will help you understand that God can use anything that happens, no matter how bad it is. He has a way of turning failures into blessings if you will allow it.

RELATED: How to Quickly Overcome a Failure or Loss

How do trust God in difficult times? Share it in the comments.

Go Family Problems? There is Help!

Are you experiencing family problems or even estranged? Are you feeling shame, anger, or rejection? Check out my book Estranged: Finding Hope When Your Family Falls Apart on Amazon or at your favorite digital store. 

This book not only talks about my seven-year estrangement from my Christian family, but it also gives solid tips to help you with your own family problems. Break free from your pain. Allow God to heal you no matter what has happened in your family of origin. There is hope when your family falls apart.

Estranged: Finding Hope When Your Family Falls Apart book with a single tree on the book

Creating Family Memories Book

Get Creating Family Memories. This book will help you manage your family in a way that allows more time to be intentional with your kids.  It includes a schedule too. You can get it at your favorite bookstore.

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Join Christian Family Living Facebook Group

Continue the conversation on Facebook and join the group Christian Family Living. This is a place for Christian women to share their experiences and get helpful tools to navigate the Christian life. We love to laugh, cry, and encourage each other to live out our faith one day at a time.

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Julie Plagens


  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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