Benjamin Franklin is credited with saying, “nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes”, but for those of us living in upstate NY, I believe we can add one other certainty: winter.
I’m not a fan. Cold wet feet from slushy puddles, back breaking shoveling, winds that suck the heat right out of the house. The snow’s pretty for a week or two over Christmas, but come December 26th I am truly ready for spring. However, God ordained it and it’s not going anywhere. Genesis 8:22 tells us “As long as the earth endures, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night will never cease.” So is there a point to all this frosty misery?
Of course. Our great Creator has a purpose for everything. Winter allows plants a period of dormancy needed for healthy growth and bearing fruit. The bitter temperatures kill germs and viruses and reduce the pollens that cause spring allergies- in fact, a mild winter will make for many more spring illnesses. We may not see much happening under the blanket of snow, but nature is busy repairing and resting up for the hard work of spring. And for those of us who embrace living in a place with every-changing seasons, enduring winter makes spring that much sweeter when it finally arrives.
Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 talks about the seasons God brings to our lives. In 14 pairs of opposites, the passage reminds us that we aren’t going to live out our lives in perpetual summer. From our bodies (a time to be born, a time to die) to our souls ( a time to weep, a time to laugh) and finally our spirits (a time to search, a time to give up), God has chosen to bring us both good and bad experiences, joyful and sorrowful times of growth, winters and summers in our relationships and aspirations.
I don’t like the unpleasant seasons in my life anymore than I like winter. But I know that if everything went my way all the time, I would be ruined; I would be intolerant, selfish, cruel, and shallow. As hard as it is to accept, I learn far more, I grow in my relationship with my Creator and with others, so much more in those cold, bleak seasons of challenge than I do in the summers of ease and abundance.
And so I try to embrace the winters. The times of weeping, mourning, scattering, tearing down and uprooting that my wise and living Father allows so that I can grow up and grow closer to Him. And just like us hardy New Yorkers have a keen appreciation for spring that those in milder climates simply can’t experience, for each of those winter experiences I gain gratitude and a keen awareness of God’s grace when the next season arrives. And spring always comes, as inevitably as winter.
I don’t have to like the winters in my life, but I do have to endure them, and I can take the opportunity to learn from them and enjoy the spring times that much more because God has ordained both in my life. So I’ll hang on for a few more weeks here as always, and try to welcome the yardwork that comes with winter’s passing! Because you only have to read a head a few more verses, to find that “He has made EVERYTHING beautiful in its time.”
“There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under the heavens:
2 a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
3 a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
4 a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
5 a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
6 a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
7 a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
8 a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace.
9 What do workers gain from their toil? 10 I have seen the burden God has laid on the human race. 11 He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end. 12 I know that there is nothing better for people than to be happy and to do good while they live.” (Ecclesiastes 3:1-12 NIV)
This blog is adapted from one of our Saturday morning prayer services. We gather each Saturday at 9 am for a brief Word from Scripture and a time for personal prayer in an unhurried atmosphere of worship music and minimal distractions. I hope you can join us!