By now the surge of spring’s inspiration is giving way to a sea of weeds, and the fun idea of starting a garden is dulled by the work of pulling them. Sigh. How did something starting out with such promise become so difficult to prevail in? “Thorns and thistles” stand for weeds in the Bible, notorious plants assigned to signify the offensive in play against good, garden-beautiful, godly ways of life.
Your garden full of weeds connects to this age-old ache; I have no doubt your sense of dread about weeding is compounded by the spiritual implications told in Genesis 3. Really!
“Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat food from it all the days of your life. It will produce thorns and thistles for you…”
Genesis 3:17-18 NIV
While there is no route around the work of weeding if you want your garden to flourish, there is also no reason why we can’t have a little fun in ridding ourselves of the wearisome plants.
How to handle weeds in your garden? Fight back with a poem!
Sorting Out Work in a Poem
Enter the A-to-Z Primer of Plants from God’s Word, written to engage the deeper levels of horticultural humor embedded in Scripture and embrace its true offer of rest and understanding. According to the Lord, some things are best known in sing-song:
…speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord
Ephesians 5: 19 NIV
Is the Lord recommending we whistle while we work? I think so. Off to work we go!
T is for Thorns and Thistles
click the links to reveal Scripture references
is for thistles,
and their accomplice, thorns,
plants as age-old evidence—
The Garden Story’s page was torn.
Eden was everything good and pleasing,
all flowering, productive, and set right.
Then the thriving ground became cursed
with one ill-fated bite
of the fruit of the tree of knowledge.
Now weediness surely we will know.
Brutal work and sprouting unwanteds
accompany all we hope to grow.
Weeds, briers, nettles, thorns, thistles:
sinister plant translation may vary;
yet the constant plea of their smilie
is that unfruitful life will be scary.
Most thistles are recognized once they
send up their bright purple flowers.
Yet prickly leaves and take-over ways
turn sweet garden-and-farm care sour.
From the sunflower family, Asteraceae,
thistles produce fly-away seeds,
riding the breeze to proliferate wildly,
leaving fields overwhelmed and besieged.
Hardy perennials, unfazed by hot sun,
their thistle-down entrenches ruggedly.
To let the field go to the spiny invaders
is to be considered sluggardly.
Thorns, pointed sidekicks in this garden drama,
are usually shrubs evergreen.
Their thicket-forming branches have vicious spikes,
leaving skin pierced to bleed.
In Bible life, thorns had a purpose, at least,
planted as fierce hedges of protection.
Yet their ultimate end gave a
bleak metaphor: burning fire rejection.
By the buckthorn family, Rhamnaceae,
most holy land thorn plants are hosted.
Christ’s thorn and jujube are
just two of the species most noted
as the potentially herbaceous bearers
at the lasting overturn of the curse:
their branches twisted to create a crown
stuck on the head of the first
and only Son to be born
to the Lord God Almighty.
Our Savior donned thorn-headress with our sin
and fought for our garden-freedom humbly.
Thus if we find ourselves sideways,
with a piercing, targeted pain;
then we will fellowship with the One true King
whose righteousness forever reigns.
“My grace is sufficient for you,” He says,
yes…even here, at this point.
Though for now the thorny struggle hurts
and truth seems to be unvoiced.
The Lord is Sovereign; His rule prevails,
so that thorn to throne is a Word-play.
The victory story of the land covered with plants
has been sustained since the third day.
True, by the sweat of our brow we know thistles;
by hacking hard soil, we know thorns—
which leaves most naive gardeners exhausted,
dislocated from hope and forlorn.
Not to worry, He says, plant flowers!
Watch the birds; let your faith be assured.
You are not worthless but valuable
and The Garden Story page is restored.
Thistles and thorns are featured in My Father is the Gardener, chapters 3 & 4
Find more devotions on thorns and thistles in the 2-week series in the Garden Work section of God’s Word for Gardeners Bible on Preparing the Soil, beginning on page a-22
Read more of plant poetry in A-to-Z Primer of Plants from God’s Word
Photos & Drop Cap sketch:
©2019-20 Shelley S. Cramm