Finding Hope in Our Darkest Seasons

October is my favorite month. The heat of summer has officially ended, and we’re now fully immersed in the best that fall has to offer—foliage, cooler temperatures, apples, hot drinks and, yes, pumpkins and flannel (which I’ll be unashamedly wearing until April).

Yet the falling leaves and shorter days of autumn are also a reminder of what’s quickly approaching: winter. There are people who love winter (crazy, I know) and who genuinely make the most out of skiing, snowboarding, ice skating and more, but for me I get a sinking feeling in my stomach just thinking about the inevitable difficulties that winter brings (mainly, driving anywhere) and the months of bitter cold. Winter simply doesn’t inspire hopefulness or joy in me.

From December to March we all experience winter together, but I believe that we can also struggle through our own personal “winters”—seasons of life that feel frozen, dark, difficult and maybe even hopeless. We trust that an end will eventually come, bringing new life and new opportunities just like the spring, but the journey to get there feels endless.

You could be stuck in a job you don’t enjoy or going through a challenging period of uncertainty at work. Maybe you’re staring down a long road of illness or addiction and recovery. You could be a high school or college senior, ready to move on to a new chapter of life but trapped at school until graduation day. Maybe you’re a parent or spouse waiting for your loved one to come home from military duties overseas. Whatever the situation, the reality is that there’s no fast solution.

I know from experience that, despite our faith in God’s plans and the hope we might have for the future, it’s easy to become angry, frustrated and negative while waiting. It almost feels like your faith frosts over and your spirit hardens.

Yet if there’s one lesson I would offer, it’s this: embrace these times of waiting. There is a need and purpose for every winter we face. Rather than giving into resentment or doubt, ask God to reveal where He is intervening—because chances are that He already is.

The song Seasons by Hillsong Worship explains this in the most beautiful way. In it, Chris Davenport, Benjamin Hastings and Ben Tan describe how we all “like a seed in the snow … have been buried to grow.”  They remind us that even though our winters are long, ultimately we have the promise of harvest.

I think the following lyrics say it best:

If all I know of harvest

Is that it’s worth my patience

Then if You’re not done working

God I’m not done waiting …

For all I know of seasons

Is that You take Your time

You could have saved us in a second

Instead You sent a child

Some seasons of life are downright painful and barren, but they are not meaningless. In fact, God can actively work in and through our winters, preparing our hearts and aligning our circumstances for the new seasons to come. His patience has purpose.

What’s more, while our winters can seem endless, God has perfect timing. He is a God who does not rush to action. Time and time again, throughout the Old and New Testament, God uses periods of waiting to strengthen and stretch His children. Remember that our Savior, the Creator of the universe, is also “the beginning and the end” (Revelation 22:13). We can trust his timing unequivocally.

While these truths may resonate, the patience part is not easy—if we rely on our own strength. Instead, the Bible tells us to rely on God while we wait for our winters to pass. Lamentations 3:25-26 encourages us: “The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him; it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord.”

Psalm 40:1 reminds us that God will hear and be with us during this process: “I waited patiently for the Lord; he turned to me and heard my cry.”

Finally, Proverbs 3:5-6 gives us faith in God’s plan: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.”

Whatever you’re facing, remember that winter has a purpose and an end. There can be beauty and hope in the dark, barren situations that we face, for even as we wait God is moving in ways that will produce a harvest. Most importantly, His plans for us are good (Jeremiah 29:11). May you find winter warmth in Him.

 

 

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