I’ve often written about the seasons we pass through in life. Sometimes it’s “summer”. Things are going well. God feels near, life is good. Sometimes it’s “winter”. Life is full of insurmountable problems, and we are paralyzed by grief, regret, anxiety and fear, worry, etc. Sometimes it’s “autumn”. The terminal diagnosis has just come in, financial crushes at work are putting staff layoffs on the horizon, or it is becoming clear that a beloved family member or friend is slipping away, distancing themselves, etc. These are times when we know that “winter” season of stress and pain are looming.
These seasons of our lives don’t necessarily correspond with the calendar but can happen at any time; and it seems they take lessons from the Canadian winter seasons, in that they don’t respect their pre-defined 3-month boundaries! The hope that we hold on to is that spring will eventually come!
At the time this was written, in late April 2022, spring was finally starting to show itself here in Canada. You couldn’t help but notice the abundant spring flowers. Especially the bulbs — tulips, daffodils, hyacinths, crocuses, etc. — were absolutely beautiful. But it wasn’t perfect. There were gaps in the rows of flowers and it was apparent that not all of the bulbs or perennials had survived the winter…
It made me wonder. Does the “spring” season of our lives — that season when we are coming out of our “winters” — mean that things will return to the former “summer” season sense of normal? Or, like the bulbs and perennials, had something succumbed to the “bitter colds” and “harsh winds” of out “winter” circumstances?
Just like in the autumn, as we enter the “winter” seasons of life, we see certain things die back. We see joy disappear. We see peace and patience draw back as the worry and grief creep in. We see our hopes and dreams being dashed. Oh, we have hope that these things will again emerge on the other side of our valley experiences, but what if they don’t? What if, after the long “winter” of illness, loss, war, hunger, cold, etc., those tiny shoots of joy and peace and patience don’t reappear? What if the “winter” season has completely dashed all of our hopes and dreams?
Last fall, at the advice of an internet site, I did nothing to my newly planted lavender. One of the three plants was up in the corner where dead leaves tend to accumulate, and in essence, nature “mulched” the plant. Guess what? The lavender that inadvertently got covered in leaf debris is beautiful while the others are brown and dry. What if I had mulched all of the plants? Would it have saved the other two?
In a similar fashion, sometimes we need to prepare for the upcoming “winter” season. When we enter those “autumn” periods when there is indication that a “winter” season is upcoming, we have a choice to make. We can become devastated, or we can follow the advice of the world’s wisest man: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.Don’t be impressed with your own wisdom. Instead, fear the Lord and turn away from evil. Then you will have healing for your body and strength for your bones.” (Prov. 3:5-8 NLT). When we choose to submit ourselves and our lives to God and depend upon Him, we can be assured that when we emerge on the other side, we will still find joy and peace. We can be assured that there will be new dreams, new purpose. But when we let the circumstances devastate and overcome us, then there is a chance that when we emerge on the other side, our joy and peace, our dreams and purpose, may not have been adequately “mulched”, and some may die.
When preparing the perennials for winter, there were a few plants that I did mulch, and a couple of them didn’t come up either. They would have to be replanted.
In the same way, if your valley experience includes the death of a loved one, no amount of submitting the problem to God will bring that loved one back. What do we do then? The ones we loved and depended upon are gone, they can’t be replaced.
Let’s look to Job for advice. Few of us have lost as much as he did, yet here is his response: “Job stood up and tore his robe in grief. Then he shaved his head and fell to the ground to worship…” (Job 1:20 NLT). When we submit to God and worship Him in the face of our trials, in the face of what we know will not come back, then we are laying the groundwork for new joys and new hopes and dreams to be replanted in our lives when our “spring” finally arrives.
Trials on the horizon? Or perhaps you already find yourself in their thralls? Trust in God. Seek His will. Fear Him, turn away from evil, and worship Him in the face of your “winter” season. In doing so, you are relying on Him and allowing Him to carry you through. You can, after all, trust in His unfailing love for you! And when you get to the other side, there will be new joy, peace, purpose, dreams and hope to look forward to!
In His love,
Lynona Gordon Chaffart
Moderator, Associate Director, Answers2Prayer Ministries