As I type this, Minnesota and much of the Midwest is digging out from the mid-April blizzard that dropped a foot or more of snow in many areas. As I worked to plow my driveway, snowmobiles buzzed by and later I saw a group of folks on the nearby sledding hill. I must admit to a bit of annoyance–“No one should be enjoying this!” I thought. But those snowmobilers and sledders were actually teaching me something.
Many people have lamented about this long winter, “Will spring ever come?” Yet as far as I know, God has yet to fail to bring about spring. It just may not always be when we want it to come. We all experience “winters” in our lives, times when everything seems dormant and cold. It may be a physical winter, chronic pain or ongoing medical issues. It may be an emotional winter, spurred by unemployment, loneliness, grief, or depression. It may be a spiritual winter, feeling separated from God and our faith. It may be all three. Sometimes it feels like these winters will never end.
Our Christian history is full of people who have had to wait a long time for spring to come. Abraham received promises from God that wouldn’t come to pass for four generations. Joseph was 17 when his brothers sold him into slavery and 30 when he became Pharaoh’s right-hand man. David was a teenager when he was anointed the next king of Israel, but didn’t take the throne until he was 30, most of the intervening years spent trying to avoid being killed by Saul.
Someday spring will return to Minnesota and the earth will begin renewal for another year. And someday spring will end our personal winters and renewal will come. It just will be in God’s time, not ours. Just as we do not control the weather, so we do not control God’s timing. What we can control is how we respond. That’s what the sledders and the snowmobilers taught me. Do we grumble and lament, or do we grab our sleds or snowmobiles and make the best of things as they are?
This is not meant to be Polyanna-ish. It is not always easy to embrace the winter days of our personal lives. And sometimes spring doesn’t come in this life. As Christians we live in the promise that God is present no matter how bleak and bitter life gets, and the promise that there is something beyond this life, a time of eternal spring with our Creator.
I pray that God soon brings you out of whatever winter you might be facing into the spring of hope that come from Christ. I pray that God gives you the strength and courage to grab your sled and head out into the world despite your winter. And I pray that you feel the reality of God’s presence with you, regardless of when your spring finally arrives.
Pastor Dave Hoadley