Photo by Debi Squire

When we lived on the farm, Hubby planted a garden enough to feed a small third world nation. Once the seeds were in the ground, weed control was all mine. While our babies slept, I’d charge forth to battle weeds. I couldn’t help but marvel over the Divine enchantment transforming a tiny kernel of corn into leafy green ribbons, then into stalks complete with tassels, silk, ears, and more kernels! But zucchini amazed me! It almost bloomed and matured before my eyes!

Joy, one of the fruits of the Spirit, is like that. Some people are naturally happy. But God-grown joy is as different from happiness as squash is from gourds.

Gourds are not nourishing. in some cases, even poisonous. They are decorative and can be useful, but that’s about it.

Happiness is like that. It looks good, has some usefulness, but is of limited value.

Squash, on the other hand, keeps well and is a terrific source of vitamins. You can eat it raw, baked in the shell, or make all manner of healthy dishes of it from desserts to main courses.

As squash resembles gourds, joy resembles happiness. Like squash, joy has wonderful sustaining power for the soul.

Where the Spirit of God dwells, joy will result as the Holy Spirit chops out weeds and breaks up the hardened clay in our hearts while sifting in qualities spiritual fruit find as fertile growing conditions. Often times — very often — He uses troubles as blasting powder to make a room for joy to flourish.

Sometimes it takes time for joy to sprout. Other times, it springs up overnight like mushrooms. But wherever the Spirit of God is, joy will result, and it is always a useful, delicious, and eternal fruit — worth the labor of the Master Gardener and well worth our pain.

In your pain, ask the Gardener how you can help Him condition the soil in your heart so He can plant, hoe, and grow a bumper crop of JOY. You’ll find it’s delicious.