Introduction to Winter is Past: A devotional for people who are hurting
Two years ago I wrote a devotional with expectations that the Lord would use what He has taught me over the years to bless others. For one reason or another, it was never the right time to share this devotional. But today, after a particularly long and bleak winter, I feel the Holy Spirit leading me to release this message. So many people I love are struggling, not just because the weather has been tough, but because life has been tough. Illness, pain, stress, infertility, disease, loss...I could go on and on naming the afflictions that I and my loved ones have been suffering. Today I bring a message from the Lord of defiant hope! We do not need to stay in the winter! The Lord has promised that springtime is coming. I pray that you will be blessed over the next several weeks as we discover, claim and see the fulfillment of His promises.
Song of Solomon 2:10-13 My beloved spake, and said unto me, Rise up, my love, my fair one, and come away. For, lo, the winter is past, the rain is over and gone. The flowers appear on the earth; the time of the singing of birds is come, and the voice of the turtle is heard in our land; The fig tree putteth forth her green figs, and the vines with the tender grape give a good smell. Arise, my love, my fair one, and come away.”
Those of us who live in the northeast understand what winter is like. Where we live in upstate New York the leaves fall off the trees in mid October, and they do not return until May. This means six months of brown and grey mountains, grass, roads, and woods. Couple that with nearly constant grey, cloudy skies and dirty, brown snow covering the roads, and winter is, at best, bleak and dreary.
The sub freezing temperatures can seep into your bones, driving you to the warmth of a fire or furnace, and forcing you to cover in so many layers you can barely move!
Then the snow storms, freezing rain, ice and hail create a recipe for a really bad time. Downed power lines, cars sliding off the roads, driveways that need to be shoveled...winter is no fun!
But during the winter months, we wait with patient expectation for the beauty we know is coming. There is nothing better than the thrill that comes when the hyacinths, daffodils and tulips begin to peak through the frozen, snow-covered ground, or the exquisite yellow forsythia leaves and the purple and pink azalea petals pop out in early spring. And the first time that a chirping bird awakens us in the morning, we cannot help but feel glad to be alive!
I went through my own personal winter a few years ago. The diagnosis of stage 2 aggressive breast cancer came like a nor’easter that blanketed my spirit in a terrifying, frozen panic. The double mastectomy and subsequent reconstructive surgery caused physical pain and emotional anxiety that seeped into my body and tried to take up permanent residence. The weeks of chemotherapy drove me to a place of despair and made my spirit feel grey and bleak, as week after week my body was slowly poisoned.
Those who are struggling in pain and illness can relate to this kind of winter. The shock of injury, the constancy of chronic pain, the helplessness of mental illness, the hopelessness of a terminal diagnosis - all of it can paint a grey, bleak future.
But God, in His faithfulness, does not leave us in winter. He keeps His promise and returns to us the fragrance of flowers, the sound of the birds, and the taste of fresh fruit.
Every spring I am once again amazed by how beautiful life can be, and today I stand in awe of how He brought so much joy, grace, mercy and peace to me during and after my winter.
I pray that this is an encouragement you can hold on to - wait with patient expectation for the beauty and newness of spring!
I praise You that winter is always followed by spring. I am thankful that the rain does end, the flowers do appear in the ground, and the birds once again do sing in the trees. Please remind me while I am in the midst of the cold and scary times that You are bringing me through to warmer, brighter days. Help me to make this confession of faith, “My time of winter and rain is over, and my time of growth and peace is here!”
Take some time to journal what your winter looks like. What are your struggles, your fears, your pain? Now take some more time to investigate what scripture says about this situation. Find several verses that give you hope that winter will pass, and springtime will come, and record them in your journal.