By JaNece Martin
Is it just me or is Spring running late this year? It’s not just a little late (like I hurriedly searched for my keys for a hot minute before I bolted out the door, late). It’s REALLY late, like OH MY WORD! I TOTALLY FORGOT THAT WE PLANNED TO HAVE SPRING THIS YEAR! And it’s - frantically scrambling around for pants a week after spring was supposed to start - late. Every morning I wake up and think, “Today, I hope I can wear a t-shirt.” But, without fail, I’m obligated to a sweater for another day. It’s really bumming me out. Especially since we live in Charleston, South Carolina where I didn’t even know they believed in winter at all, let alone extended winter.
I have this vintage looking framed poem hanging in our downstairs bathroom that says:
“You have to believe the buds will blow ~
Believe in grass in the days of snow ~
Ah, that’s the reason the bird can sing. ~
On his darkest day he believes in spring.~” (Douglas Malloch)
I found it a few years ago during a season of my life that could only be described as winter. At the time I found it encouraging and ironic because frankly, I hadn’t seen snow that caused me to question the grass ever since we moved to the south.
Until this winter.
This winter we had that insane storm blow in and hang out for a few days, leaving us buried in a foot of snow. It took a week for it to melt, the last remnants being speckled with sad piles of snowman accessories and various branchy body parts. Who would have thought that was even possible?
Our lives tend to rotate through different times and seasons. Some are full of joy, adventure, fun, and perfect weather. Some are awful, cold, depressing, and feel so long. Often when the time comes for an extended winter season I find myself questioning how it’s even possible. Shocked by the unexpected harshness of life, I set all my focus onto waiting for the coming of spring. I get depressed, impatient for change, frustrated, and even feel entitled to the difficult season passing quickly. Like, who said it could be anything but sunshine and roses for my entire life?! I don’t want to wait out the times of physical or emotional cold. I try to escape the reality that says, “Blessed be the name of God forever and ever, to whom belong wisdom and might. He changes times and seasons” (Daniel 2:20-21a ESV).
When I consider the seasons, I realize each one serves a specific purpose. Each playing a role in the transition to the next. The blazing heat of Summer ripens the crops that were planted and watered in Spring so they can be harvested in Fall. I want to rush past the purpose of Winter; but God, in his wisdom, gave a place to the death, dormancy, and cold of it.
In fact, the different characteristics of each season reveal something profound about the glory of God. “For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.” (Romans 1:20 ESV). So then, even Winter can illustrate God’s glory and His purposes for drawing us to himself.
Imagine how cold the grave where they lay Jesus body must have been. His death filled the tomb and left everything dreary and dormant, awaiting in sad silence for the coming of spiritual spring. But just as winter cannot cling forever to the year, neither could death hold the Son of God indefinitely in the grave. Spring would absolutely come. God Himself would change the season and new life would break through, fresh and flourishing and forever.
Jesus will never go through Winter in that sense again, but he does accompany me through the seasons of my own life. And the changing of the seasons is inevitable. Winter will come, I ought not be surprised by that. But when I question... How long is Winter going to last? Will Spring ever start? When will these trials pass? How long must I suffer? - I can rest in knowing the trials are part of His perfect plan and timing to bring new life and growth into my year. I can trust He knows when to change the season, and He will. And in the meantime, like the bird that believes Spring is coming, I can sing.