Winter, for many, is the least favourite season. It’s cold, dull, gloomy, barren. The days are short, the nights long.
It’s a time where I want nothing more than to curl up beside a warm fire with rich hot chocolate and stare at the flames. If only that were an option!
It’s a season where, in times past, there wasn’t much activity. In today’s culture though, the seasons just seem to happen without us being that aware. Technology has allowed us to miss a lot of the seasons. Lights and computers keep us awake and connected at all hours of the day regardless of whether the sun sets at 4 PM or 10 PM.
Technology, I also believe, is something that makes us just as unaware of the spiritual seasons in our life as the weather seasons. We know something is amiss when our hearts are in winter, though it’s challenging for us to determine what that is.
This is where the seasons of the heart come in.
Our heart has seasons, our life has seasons.
Maybe you’ve been through a winter season of the heart. A season of absence.
- Absence of meaning
- Absence of purpose
- Absence of friends
- Absence of light
- Absence of God
It’s not that everything is indeed absent, its just the feeling of aloneness.
Solomon’s words “I find no pleasure…” (Ecc 12:1) and “Meaningless! Meaningless!… Everything is meaningless!” (Ecc 12:8) hold great power.
Or the words of the Psalmist in Psalm 88 ring true. For starters, it’s a song to be sung to the tune “The Suffering of Affliction” according to the New Living Translation.
- “My life is full of troubles…”
- “I am forgotten..”
- “You have driven my friends away…”
- “I am in a trap with no way of escape…”
So then, what are we supposed to do? If we are stuck in this season, with no hope on the horizon of spring and better things to come, what can we do make this season purposeful? How do we bring meaning to such a barren and gloomy time of life?
Be Fruitful in Winter
Three activities are best done in winter:
Going back to Psalm 88, the entire Psalm is the psalmist crying out to God in his season of winter. It didn’t matter what he was going through or “the suffering of affliction” he felt, he was grounded in the fact that God was listening even if he didn’t feel like he was.
He was growing his faith. You should too.
“Winter grows pure faith. It grows almost nothing, but it grows biblical faith like no other season can. It combines the unique conditions that nurture the certainty of things hoped for and the assurance of things unseen. It is the season above all seasons when we walk by faith and not by sight. There is no better ground for growing an abiding faith that weathers the worst life can throw at you.”1
So pray, pray, and pray some more.
Winter is the best time to prune your trees. The tree lays dormant.
“A tree in winter is useless and unsightly. But it has this one advantage: you can cut the wood deep, right back to its trunk if you must, and the tree will survive. If it’s done right, the tree will be better for it come springtime: stronger, shapelier, more vigorous. Above all, more fruitful.”1
What are you pruning? And I’m not talking about actual trees. Winter is not the season to be adding to what you are doing in your life.
Take a look at your schedule, responsibilities, projects and activities. Prune what is no longer providing life, what isn’t bearing fruit. You will set yourself up for a more fruitful harvest by removing these activities so you have more room and energy for life giving activities in the upcoming seasons.
One of the darkest times in history was the spiritual winter brought about after Jesus’ crucifixion. The disciples didn’t understand the work Jesus needed to do on the cross and their hope was crushed when he died. Their Messiah was dead.
The resurrection didn’t happen the moment Jesus died. They had to wait.
On the Emmaus road, two disciples were attempting to come to terms with all that had happened in Jerusalem (Luke 24:13-34). It wasn’t until 3 days later that Jesus revealed himself to those disciples, it wasn’t at the beginning when Jesus met them. They had to wait.
We all have to wait. Things never seem to happen when we want them to. Without that waiting, we don’t develop our faith.
“The waiting is necessary to cultivate a faith to die for and live for, a faith that will literally change the world.”1
What are you waiting for? Maybe you don’t see Jesus moving in your life. Perhaps, like the disciples on their way to Emmaus, Jesus is right there with you, you just won’t know it until the winter season comes to an end.
And always remember, spring will come, whether you are ready or not. Expect it. Will you be prepared?
So pray, prune and wait, for spring is coming, and will burst on the scene before you even realize it!
If you are in a season of winter, what activities can you do to prepare yourself for the coming spring? Share in the comments below, you never know if you will spark something in someone else.
1Buchanan, M. (2010). Spiritual Rhythm: Being with Jesus Every Season of Your Soul. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan.