In the Bleak Midwinter

January and February are not my favorite months of the year. They are still definitely winter, but the fun of the Christmas season is over and they often just seem bleak and cold to me. I thrive in spring and summer—the green shoots coming up that I’ve planted and nurtured, the warmth of the air and the smell of new life.

Recently, though, God’s been reminding me of the importance of winter. In the winter, the plants rest and rejuvenate. The overgrowth is killed off and new life is able to take its place. For some plants, the cold dormant period during the winter is required for the seeds to germinate. If there is not a long enough cold spell for the area, the trees and plants won’t be triggered to bud and bloom. We are also given a bit of a break from most of the bugs as they hide or die during the winter. Everything has a chance to rest and recuperate from the beautiful burst of energy of the spring and summer.

I have been seeing the importance of the seemingly dormant periods of our own lives as well. We hate those times where it seems we are stuck and forced into resting. The big explosions of God’s majesty and work seem to be over, and we feel as though He might have gone to take a nap. But we forget the work He continues to do underground—the vital work He needs to do in these times of winter in our lives in order for us to bloom in the times of spring and summer.

It looks bleak and dreary. The cold sometimes feels as though it’s creaking through our very bones. The pain is real, bringing us to our knees with cries of anguish and the feeling of abandonment. We think God has left.

The truth, though, is God never left. He has just moved underground to prepare us for the next spring. It might feel cold and despairing, but His love for us still burns hot and carries us through. We can’t rush the spring, but we can hold on to the truth. We can look at the barren trees and the brown grass and remind ourselves of all the activity under the soil in preparation for the next big majestic explosion. And we can look at the barren and brown of our own lives and remind ourselves of the constant pursuit of us by Jesus, even when it is in the cold and unseen bits of our lives.

When the moments are small and forever, when the air seems suffocating and the cold wraps its icy fingers around our hearts and squeezes—we are not abandoned. We cozy in to the blanket of God’s eternal, never-stopping love and rest, waiting for Him to bring the spring in His time. We don’t need to produce something for Him to love us. We need to rest. So, take a breath and quit trying to make winter into spring too early. And I will try to learn to love the winter as He does amazing work under the soil of our lives.

Here’s what I’ve learned through it all: Don’t give up; don’t be impatient; be entwined as one with the Lord. Be brave and courageous, and never lose hope. Yes, keep on waiting—for he will never disappoint you! Psalm 27:14 (Passion Translation)

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