So as I was standing over my vegetable garden on Tuesday evening, this question came from my lips. “Lord, why did You make chickweed?!”
It had been almost a month since I planted seeds, and about 2 weeks since I placed my plant starts in the ground. When I planted the starts I weeded around the potatoes, carrots, radishes, spinach, and beets. But, 2 weeks later, gazing at those plants, I could see I had a major job ahead: the chickweed had invaded the west side of my garden with a vengeance. It some places it looked like a lawn of these small green leaves. The problem is that chickweed grows so much faster than many of my vegetables. The real crop to suffer is my carrots. Carrot seeds take longer to germinate than some other vegetables. And when carrots pop through the soil they are small, thin, and fragile. I dare not pull the chickweed till the carrots start arriving. But, then it’s possible for this weed to choke the carrots. Or, I may accidentally pull a carrot when trying to weed out one of these undesirable volunteers.
Even in the other crops, the chick weed can cause problems, and a LOT of work to get rid of it. I use a hoe to remove as much of this ‘bane of Alaska gardeners’ as I safely can without harming the other plants. Then I get down on my hands and knees and pull the rest by hand. The carrot row takes the longest. I spent about 3 or 4 hours on Tuesday weeding my garden, and then another hour on Wednesday morning. And, while I also had dandelions, volunteer raspberries, and other weeds, the chickweed was the main issue.
So, back to my question, “Lord, why did You create chickweed?” I read on the Wikipedia website that chickweed is used as ground cover, and can even be eaten as a vegetable. But, I don’t know anyone who has eaten chickweed, do you? Also, I guess this is how chickweed got its name, poultry often feed off the chickweed. I’m not sure these positive uses outweigh the difficulties this weed causes, at least not in my vegetables, or in my flowers.
Of course, we know the words of the Lord to Adam, after he ate the forbidden fruit. 17 And to Adam he said, “Because you have listened to the voice of your wife and have eaten of the tree of which I commanded you, ‘You shall not eat of it,’ cursed is the ground because of you; in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life; 18 thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you; and you shall eat the plants of the field. 19 By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread, till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for you are dust, and to dust you shall return.” (Genesis 3:17-19) The thorns and thistles, the weeds in this world which cause us to eat bread by the sweat of our brow, are part of the results of sin. When Adam disobeyed God it was not a small matter. All creation, and the earth itself, were cursed by God because of Adam’s disobedience. Weeds are a result and a reminder of our sin. The toil and sweat remind us that God had a better plan for us, and a reminder that we need a Savior.
Lutheran Christians have studied God’s word deeply to hear what God is saying. We hear two great messages from God in the Bible — The Law and The Gospel. A general summary of these two great doctrines, or teachings from our Lord, is that the Law “Shows Us our Sin,” and the Gospel “Shows us our Savior.” As I said above, the Law shows us our need for a Savior. I have pondered for years over the words which God inspired Paul to write in Galatians 3:24. “Therefore the Law has become our tutor to lead us to Christ, that we may be justified by faith.” (NASV) When life does not go the way we think it should, especially since we live in a world created by an all-wise, all-powerful, loving Lord, the law not only points to our sin, but also shows us our need for help.
Obviously, there are many trials in life which are far greater than the scourge of chickweed. In our country and in our world, we are now dealing with Covid-19, and with the fruits of racism and hatred. This is not the world God created. This is not what He planned for His people. We know that truth deep inside. But, our rebellion against our Creator, our selfish attitudes and actions, have consequences. Like Adam, our sin creates deep problems for us, and for the world around us. We need the grace, the mercy, and the help of God.
Yet, human beings are proud and stubborn. We do not like to admit that we need help. We don’t want to confess that maybe we don’t have all the answers. Neither do we like to admit that we are sinful and broken. But, I confess to you, I’ve tried a number of solutions to the chickweed which returns each year to my garden. Unfortunately, the only solution I have found is the hoe, and getting down on my hands and knees for hours at a time to pull these weeds out one by one. I also confess that I do suffer because of my own waywardness, and I need a Savior. I need Jesus.
Our world is broken. We need help more deeply than we realize. “Thank you, Lord, for sending Jesus to pay for our sin and to win eternal life for us.” And, maybe grudgingly I’ll also say, “Thank You, Lord, even for chickweed, which reminds me of my need for my Lord’s love and forgiveness in Jesus.”