A Long Winter  

 

   The cold of winter has been the expectation for our lives of late. April has come and gone, yet we still wear our coats to go outside and we still keep our heat on at a comfortable temperature. We have dealt with snowstorms, ice storms, freezing rain, bone-chilling cold, and power outages during this unforgiving season. It has left me, among many other people, wondering when it will ever end. When will the cold that this season brings turn into the warmth of the next? When will the death of winter turn into the new life of spring?


   Winter has been hard on me, as I know it has been for many others, and still there are others for whom it was so severe that they did not survive. Such trials can often overtake those whose strength is dwindling or those who continue to fight without seeking refuge. As you may have guessed, I am not speaking solely about the weather.


   Every one of us has endured trials of many kinds during our lifetimes. These trials take the form of mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual difficulties that we struggle to overcome. How many of us have struggled to pay those bills that keep piling up? How many of us have said goodbye to friends or family who have passed away? How many of us have sunken into the depths of depression? In the midst of these circumstance, how many of us have wondered where God is?


   The Apostle Paul knew suffering better than most. If we trace his steps through the book of Acts and through his letters to the Early Church, we can see that he was beaten, stoned and left for dead, shipwrecked, rejected by his former peers, placed under house arrest, imprisoned, and eventually beheaded. In consideration of these things, this is what he wrote to the Philippians.

   “I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:11-13)

 

    Many people use this passage of Scripture to cultivate the belief that they can do anything to which they set their minds as long as God is on their side. The true meaning behind it, however, is much more profound and hopeful. For when he wrote this, Paul was  imprisoned and ready to die for his faith. He did not know what the future held, he merely knew that in any case, the grace of Jesus Christ would be sufficient for him.


     What would it look like for us to be content in all circumstances? I do not think that we would always be happy, but I do believe that we would always have hope, joy, and peace in the midst of any situation; for we rely on the grace of our Lord and His strength to carry us through the depths of our struggles. Sometimes He will take them away, but most often He will strengthen us to not only endure but flourish in Him. May we always seek His grace and strength in our lives. Winter may still be cold, but His warmth will carry us through until the day it ends.


Your Servant in Christ,
Pastor Ryan