I don’t know about you, but I am ready for Spring. Enough winter already! It seems the older I get the more the winter months negatively affect me. I’m convinced that this seasonal depression thing is real. These dark, wet, cold, sunless months just seem to suck the joy out of me more than when I was younger. I find myself walking around my yard looking for signs of life. For some reason, this seems to give me glimpses of hope that winter will once again lose its grip. February is the month I start watching and looking. I see my daffodils poking through the ground. I see the buds about to pop on my Daphne plants giving me the most amazing pre-spring aroma. I notice the Iris’s beginning to shoot up through the water in my creek. I notice the tiny little buds developing on some of the plants around the house. Oh yeah, spring is coming and old man winter is going to lose. Better, brighter days are coming. Just hang on a while longer. Seasons change.
There are times when we need to remember this spiritually. Sometimes, we go through what I call spiritual winters. The warmth of God’s presence is just not so real. We feel the cold winter blast of harsh circumstances, relational brokenness, internal doubts, ongoing financial struggles, not to mention our own relentless struggle with sin. Sometimes these clouds can block the rays of God’s goodness, His presence and His love from being an experiential reality. You pray for the clouds to part and the rain to stop, but all you hear is silence – and the rain continues. You ask for the season to change, but all it does is linger on. You wonder what is wrong with you. Answer – Nothing. You my friend are in a spiritual winter.
If I just described how some of you are feeling let me simply say; I’m sorry. Spiritual winters are tough seasons. You are not alone though. I believe everyone goes through them. I know I certainly have. What should you do if you find yourself in this cold dark season? Please remember that seasons change. Let me explain why this is so important.
Winter is not the result of your bad choices or the result of some punishment from God. It’s a season. There are times in God’s sovereignty, where He allows us to go through a winter. Just as you had no control over this past winter showing up you have no control over your spiritual winter showing up. I know there will be some people who disagree with me on this and want to make it all about our poor choices and sinfulness. I love all of you who feel this way but you’re about as much help as Job’s friends were to him. Enough said.
The reason God allows winter is because in His sovereignty, winter has value. Just like our four seasons, they all produce good results. Even a cold, wet winter has value. Our winter replenishes our snow pack, fills our reservoirs and even kills many annoying bugs. Winter allows some plants to survive the harsh conditions of darkness and freezing temperatures by months of going dormant. If many plants and trees did not stop growing during winter, the harsh conditions would actually damage the tree. It is a time when they are conserving resources for the growth that is coming in the spring. Winter does have value.
Our spiritual winters have value as well. Just because it is not a time of growth and sunlight does not mean God is not accomplishing His will for your life. It’s winter – it’s not about growth. God is doing something else. You may not see it or understand it. It may feel as if you are dormant – but that’s Ok. It’s only winter and winter will not last forever. Winter is preparation for new growth. Spring will come and you will once again feel the warmth and sunlight of God’s presence again. Why do I say this? Because I have walked through a few winters myself. On the backside of every one there has been the results of new growth.
So what should you do if you find yourself in a spiritual winter? Continue to trust in God’s goodness over your life. Continue to trust in His sovereignty that He knows best. Give yourself permission to be in a season that is not defined by growth and productivity. Keep praying even if you don’t feel your prayers go past the ceiling. Keep doing what you know is right even if you don’t “feel it”. Why? Because one day the clouds will part and spring will come. Your personal winter will be over and you will enter into a newness with God that you never had before. In hindsight, your winter may even make sense as you experience new momentum to follow Jesus. Keep believing the season WILL change. Jesus will not allow winter to define your life. He loves you too much for that. Spring is on the way!
Looking forward to spring,