The many types of trees in the world can be simplistically placed into two categories: evergreens, which keep their leaves or needles all year long; and deciduous, which lose their leaves in the fall and do not put on new leaves again until the spring.

What does this mean for visual pleasure?

It means that in the summer, when all the trees are green, both categories of trees are equal: They all portray varying but beautiful shades of green. In the spring and fall, however, I would say the deciduous trees definitely have an advantage: They are covered in flowers or leaf buds in the spring, and they are covered with beautiful reds, yellows, oranges and browns in the fall. On the other hand, the evergreens have the utmost advantage in the winter, when they are the only greenery we can generally see amongst all the bare-bones trunks and branches of the deciduous trees.

God gives us diversity, and I, being someone who loves the random facelift to the living room or the occasional new curtains and bedspread in the bedroom, am very happy He does. Just image how drab the winter months would be without the green of the evergreens; and their green also provides beautiful variety to the fall colours of the deciduous trees. Meanwhile, imagine how dull early spring and fall would be without the vibrant colours of the deciduous trees!

Winter is upon us in the northern hemisphere, and although summer is here in the southern hemisphere, those living south of the equator are also well familiar with the drab times of winter. I would encourage all of you, in the dullest moments of the winter months, to take a moment to look out the window. Notice the evergreen trees, and thank God for planting something of beauty in an otherwise dismal season.

Whether you live north or south of the equator, however, and even if you live in a warm climate where there is no real cold, drab winter season, you all know what I mean when I talk about the winter of our lives. It doesn't really matter what the outside thermometer reads, when troubles come, they throw us into the thralls of "winter". Just like God created evergreen trees so that we can still find beauty in the midst of winter, He has also placed "evergreens", things of encouraging beauty, in the midst of the trials we go through.

What do these "evergreens" look like in the midst of trials?

1. Strength: "'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.' Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong." (2 Cor. 12:9-10 NIV)

No matter what, we can count on God's "evergreen" of strength and power that is actually perfected in our weakness!

2. Refuge: "God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way, though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble at its swelling." (Ps. 46:1-3 NIV)

It doesn't matter how severe the trials, we do not need to fear, for God is our refuge!

3. Wisdom and counsel: "I bless the Lord who gives me counsel; in the night also my heart instructs me. I have set the Lord always before me; because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken. Therefore my heart is glad, and my whole being rejoices; my flesh also dwells secure." (Ps. 16:7-9 NIV)

Even in the darkest valleys of our lives, God is there with His wisdom and guidance.

4. Comfort: "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction..." (2 Cor. 1:3 NIV)

Not only can we hope for comfort in the dark times, but we can expect it, for God has promised.

5. God will work all things out for the good in the long run: "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose." (Rom. 8:28 NIV)

And these are just a very small handful of the "evergreens" God has placed in the winter periods of our lives.

Sometimes when I look out the window on a cold winter's day, my eyes are drawn only to the snow and ice. I actually have to make my eyes search out the evergreens on my property. In fact, sometimes I have to look beneath the snow to see the evergreens. It is the same with the winter times of our lives. Our focus can become so fixed on the problems that we overlook God's comfort, His wisdom and hope, His refuge and strength. The drearier the times may look, however, the more important it is to seek out those "evergreens" God has given us. Think back. Count your blessings. Notice where God's hand has been on your live and praise Him! For the God who placed evergreen trees in the middle of winter has also promised to give you what you need to come through every trial, no matter how harsh, in victory.

In His love,
Lyn

Lynona Gordon Chaffart, Speech-Language Pathologist, mother of two, Author -- "Aboard God's Train -- A Journey With God Through the Valley of Cancer", Author and Moderator for The Nugget, a tri-weekly internet newsletter, and Scriptural Nuggets, a website devoted to Christian devotionals and inspirational poems, with Answers2Prayer Ministries. Follow Lyn on Twitter @lynchaffart.