Looking for Bright Spots
It appears as though not all winters are created equal. A few years ago, with the eagerness of a squirrel collecting acorns for the cold winter months, I cut and split firewood for our wood-burning stove, rising up to the challenge of keeping family and house warm. To my surprise and disappointment, it was one of the mildest winters on record, with hardly a hint of freezing temperatures. But this year, I would gladly welcome that weather!
Winter can be difficult, yes, because of the temperatures, but also because of the general bleakness. A larger portion of the day is darker, the flowers and trees are dormant, sickness abounds, and ice and snow can make it difficult to get out of the house. On New Year’s Day, with a low of -5 degrees, the bleakness of winter was pressing in on me. I resolved to get out of the house.
As I pulled out of our driveway at dusk, I witnessed something amazing: the sun had broken through the clouds and created one of those classic Top 10 Kansas sunsets. It was spectacular, and I drove westward in amazement. To me, it was an encouragement that amidst the difficulties winter provides, hope can shine through.
Deep down I know that the weather will warm up. I’ve been around long enough to know that’s how things generally work. But between the darkness, the chill, and the second or third round of sickness (I forget how many!), winter can be depressing. Sometimes these seasons can mirror times in our lives. I was just talking with someone who lamented, “I can’t see any bright spots in my life.” It made me think of the winter weather and the sunshine that broke through. I do not always know how to encourage someone in such a tough place, as it seems like no words will help. But I can acknowledge that Paul is right in encouraging others with this unusual instruction:
“… we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” (Romans 5:2b-5)
Hope does not put us to shame. During this winter season we can cling to the hope that we will soon experience light, warmth, and healing from sickness. And more importantly, even if we can’t see any bright spots, we can cling to the hope that God is not done with us yet, that He is good, and that He has poured out his love to us. Allow Him to work in your heart during this winter season!