Snowflakes falling from the sky, lets the moonlight glisten bright. Children giggle and cackle as they play about, tossing snow and licking it from their nose. Winter for some is such a delight, let it come each night. But for some, winter they do not wish to embrace, but rather skip over to the next seasonal phase. No matter how you view winter it will come, the question will be, “How will you respond?”
When I think of winter, I think of cold, very cold temperatures. It is not my favorite season by far. But, what I know is that in everything there is a season and seasons will come then go, just as tides flow in and then back out again to sea.
“There is a time for everything and a season for every activity under heaven…” Ecclesiastes 3:1
What does winter look like in our lives and more than just the snow flake land. Winter can be a tough time. Winter is when the flowers no longer are in bloom, the skies are more gray than blue, the hours of daylight seem like they quickly fade to dark black skies. Moods are not as cheery as when the sun bursts rays of light. For many, winter is depressing. Sure there are fun and exciting mountains to ski, beautiful landscapes to admire in winter. There is good in everything; it is all perspective. But there is something about winter that just seems rock hard, like the ground our furry boots tread while trying to keep warm.
In our lives, we go through seasons. Summer when things are in full bloom, the sun feels warm on our bronzing skin. When things are going well and we are like the child swinging saying, “Weeeeee, let’s do it again!” Running carefree through green pastures. Drinking in cool water and taking dips in lakes and pools. Fresh, refreshing – joy! Life is like that in the summer season. When all is well. We are skipping along the sidewalk and smiling. Things just cannot be better. We think, ” I am blessed.” By golly, we even shout it, declare it to everyone. Nothing can stop us, we are kings or queens of the world. All is well. God is good. We sing a new song from our hearts and belt verses from our lips, “Praise him all day long, in the morning, in the evening, in the noon time, Praise the name of the Lord!” It is easy to count our blessings in summer. At a drop of a hat or shall I say flower petal, to claim his love and share it. Simple to recite our thanksgivings, count our blessings and echo praises.
Yet, as in all seasons, they only last for a time. Seasons come, but there is also an end to seasons. They do no last forever.
Just as the last leaf falls from a tree in fall, the head of winter shows his face. It can look different for each of us. For some, it is a gradual introduction to winter, like in Pennsylvania. Our winters start mild before becoming more fierce, cold and drastic. The cold that chills you to the bone generally arrives in January and stays through March. For others, winter is abrupt. It just knocks on the door of your city laying its mounds of snow that become your roadway. A few inches are nothing, when they land upon the feet of snow from the storms that have already come. No matter who you are, you are not exempt from experiencing winter. Everyone for a period of time must embrace the winter season.
Winter is when tough stuff happens. When a spouse is found out to be unfaithful. A son is found guilty of charges and imprisoned. When publicly you are humiliated and ashamed. When your child is killed in a car accident When a baby is born, but never took a breath. When your house is robbed while you were away at a funeral. When someone violates your daughter. When your house goes into foreclosure or your car is repossessed because you have no money to pay for them. Your husband loses his job. Your child is now addicted to drugs. A friend turns their back on you. A family pet dies. The list is gloomy. Heartbreaks and heartaches mound. It is as to say, “God I cannot handle one more thing.” My friend, winter has arrived.
Job experienced winter.
“One day when Job’s sons and daughters were feasting and drinking (they were going about their business, life as usual) at the oldest brother’s house, a messenger came to Job (Winter abruptly arrived) and said, ‘The oxen were plowing and the donkeys were grazing nearby, and the Sabeans attacked and carried them off. They put the servants to the sword and I am the only one who has escaped to tell you.” Job 1:13-15
Life was good. Job’s family was feasting and enjoying the company of one another. I am sure they were telling stories, sharing memories, familiar like table talk at our Thanksgiving feasts. Then the telephone rang and the bad news was shared. “Your uncle has had a stroke and is being transported to Pittsburgh hospital.” Abruptly, dinner ends and the family leaves for the hospital.
“While the messenger was still speaking, another messenger came and said, ‘The fire of God fell from the sky and burned up the sheep and the servants and I am the only one who has escaped to tell you.” Job 1:16
Again? Not again. More bad news. Car one breaks down, now car two. What am I supposed to do? It is not as though these two events take the life out of us and throw us to our knees without any energy to stand back up, but it is a knock, a hard winter’s blow that just sets the season into motion. Really? Really. Small stresses that begin to add up in your life and you think, “What next?”
“While he was still speaking, another messenger came and said, ‘The Chaldeans formed three raiding parties and swept down on your camels and carried them off. They put the servants to the sword and I am the only one who has escaped to tell you.” Job 1:17
Your house is robbed. This must be a bad dream, a joke. First my oxen, then my sheep, now my camel. In our lives it may be, first my grandmother passes away, then my dad has a heart attack and now my house has been robbed. When will this stop? Winter.
“While he was still speaking, yet another messenger came and said, ‘Your sons and daughters were feasting and drinking wine at the oldest brothers house, when suddenly a mighty wind swept in from the desert and struck the four corners of the house. It collapsed on them and they are dead, and I am the only one who has escaped to tell you.” Job 1:18-19
There is a knock at the door at midnight and it is a police officer. I am Officer So-n-So and I am sorry ma’am, but your sixteen year old son has been in an accident. Immediately, the mother’s heart begins racing and her thoughts swirling before the words come out, “He did not survive.” Broken, she falls to her knees as if a blast from the Arctic chill has slapped her in the face. She falls to the hard ground trying to catch her breath as if the cold winter front will take her very own life as well. Or maybe it isn’t the death of a child, but a daughter who confesses to you that a family member has been fondling her and everything in you wants to cry out, “Noooooooooo! Not my child. I thought you would protect her God! Where are you?” Or the news hits the papers, that your son has been arrested for the attempted murder of another human being. You want to hide under your sheets, cry your tears and never poke your head from under them again. Unwelcome Mr. Winter has arrived.
The Bible says, “At this, Job got up and tore his robe and shaved his head….”
Tearing your robes and shaving your head was a sign of mourning. To mourn is to express deep sorrow. We mourn in different ways. At funerals we wear black clothing as a sign of our mourning. At home when there is bad news, we may mourn by staying in bed in our pj’s, not answering phone calls or maybe by screaming and crying. But, we all mourn.
Job mourned too. Winter struck him. But Job, a man, completely human like us, did this, “Then he fell to the ground in worship and said, ‘Naked I came from my mother’s womb and naked I will depart. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised. In all this (when winter came, the bad news arrived) Job did not sin by charging God with wrongdoing.” Job 1:20-22
What do we need to remember about Winter?
- Winter can be tough times. Bad news just seems to be coming from all directions. The cold wind can take our breath away and knock us to our knees searching for the strength to stand again.
- Winter is a season. It has a definite beginning and an definite ending. It will not last forever. We have to hold on, press on and push through until the next season arrives, which is spring. In the spring, there is new life. Renewed hope. Rain showers, sun shine and budding flowers.
- What does not kill us in winter will only make us stronger. Every experience, good or bad, helps us to grow. Trying times, while we would rather avoid them, are sometimes the exact thing that propels us to finish the good race and to carry on our work until the day Jesus returns.
If you are in a winter season, remember this: You are not alone. Jesus is walking through these winter days, weeks or months with you. Winter is a season. Just as it has a definite beginning, there is a definite ending. Hold on dear child, your spring is just around the corner. In your weakness, he is made strong !
“Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me.” 2 Corinthians 12:9 (NLT)