Like the frost on a rose, winter comes for us all. Oh how nature acquaints us with the nature of patience.
Like a seed in the snow, I’ve been buried to grow. For Your promise is loyal from seed to Sequoia.
Seasons – Hillsong Worship
I used to think my life was hard because I was doing something wrong.
Like somehow God was mad at me or just leaving me to suffer the natural consequences of my poor choices. Goodness knows, I’ve made plenty of mistakes.
2 “Rabbi,” his disciples asked him, “why was this man born blind? Was it because of his own sins or his parents’ sins?”
John 9:2, NLT
So I tried harder. Resolved more resolutely. Determined to live my best life starting right now.
Maybe if I eat better, sleep more, take better meds, love better, organize more efficiently, manage finances more wisely, work harder, pray more, have a quieter quiet time, cut out media, practice self discipline and mindfulness, parent more graciously, date my spouse more consistently… maybe then things will be better.
Maybe then I’ll find myself in the slipstream of God’s grace and favor, and things will ease up a little bit.
I don’t need opulence. I just want life to be easier than it is right now.
Things would shift for a moment, because good habits are good for a reason, but the burden didn’t lift. It moved from one shoulder to the other, but it didn’t get any lighter.
I traded the burden of survival-mode for the burden of perfectionism. I traded the burden of guilt for the burden of performance. I traded the burden of spiritual sluggishness for the burden of religion.
And then, since the burden was still a burden with a slightly different flavor, I would default back to the path of least resistance. Because life is difficult enough already without trying to hack through the underbrush.
Back to square one. Rinse. Repeat.
What if the struggle to free myself from winter’s grip is because the winter is part of God’s design?
Not saying we can follow whatever selfish whims cross our minds because winter will always come anyway; that’s an ancient fallacy.
Romans 6:1-2, NLT
But maybe winter has less to do with my own success or failure and more to do with the nature of seasons.
Aside from the fact that we live in a broken down world, most of my life’s hardships are because of someone else’s evil choices, and even though the price is not mine to pay, I’m somehow left footing the bill.
Could the winter be God’s most merciful plan to protect the seed of my healing until He sets things right in the seasons to come?
What if the winter isn’t God’s punishment but His preparation?
3 “It was not because of his sins or his parents’ sins,” Jesus answered. “This happened so the power of God could be seen in him.
John 9:3, NLT
Does that make God heartless and cruel? Does He cause suffering to somehow refine our character?
These are HUGE theological questions I have wrestled to the ground like Jacob at Peniel.
I don’t claim to have all of the right answers, but I do know that God is good. All the time.
And I know that He has given us His grace, and a heartless and cruel God would never offer such a gift.
Not prayer as in “Let’s say grace.” Not mercy as in being spared something we justly deserve.
Grace as in the power of God in me to live this Called Life.
2 May God give you more and more grace and peace as you grow in your knowledge of God and Jesus our Lord. 3 By his divine power, God has given us everything we need for living a godly life. We have received all of this by coming to know him, the one who called us to himself by means of his marvelous glory and excellence.
2 Peter 1:2-3, NLT
Grace I received by coming to know Him in faith. More grace as I grow in my knowledge of Him, my Creator and Savior.
Which is a cute idea until I’m boarding a plane bound for a psychiatric treatment hospital halfway across the country. Because this hard life became so hard that my own mind tried to flee from it.
It’s a lovely sentiment until you’re struck with a loss so great your heart breaks in ways that never seemed possible. Or you’re faced with that diagnosis. Or your trust is betrayed and every living soul starts to feel like a possible weapon instead of a person.
What of grace then?
Not one thing in your life is more important than figuring out how to live in the face of unspoken pain.
-Ann Voskamp, The Broken Way
Oh, friend, let me tell you.
Grace is leaning hard into my Abba, even when I can’t feel Him near, pouring out lament with faith that He is God and I am not (Job 23:8-11).
Grace is laying down the burdens of perfectionism, performance, and religion and embracing the broken, trusting He will be my defense when things start to look really messy (Matthew 11:28-30).
Grace is knowing that I am dead in the water in my own power, but He is more than sufficient to keep me walking (2 Corinthians 12:9).
Grace is God’s power enabling me to set aside blame in order to radiate His glory through my brokenness and scars (2 Corinthians 4:7).
Grace is God’s great love to warm me in the winter.
If only I will press in and not pull away. To cease my striving and over-analyzing and just rest knowing I am beloved.
You are beloved.
I pray you’ll let His love warm you in your winter as well.