Tidbits and Blessings Blog
by Jeanie Malone
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We all have a favorite season, and for many of us, our favorite is not winter. Many of us are drawn to the life, activity, and excitement of summer, the new growth and new life of spring, or the gentle stillness of autumn. Regardless of whether you are a winter fan or not, winter is essential to many life cycles and ecosystems around the world.
Typically, when thinking of our lives in seasons, we think of birth and the first few years as spring, childhood and early adulthood as summer, our decades of parenting and getting well established as autumn, and our later years as our winter. But that represents only one year over the span of a lifetime.
Lately, I have been trying my best to kick off a flare in some chronic illnesses I battle. Last night while lying in bed exhausted in another night of little sleep, I thought about how we have seasons of dormancy in life meant for us to slow down, change activity, and rest for the coming season of intense growth and change.
Our lives often repeat seasons that we can compare to the seasons of weather. Like being drawn to the sunshine of summer, we crave the productivity of our own summers. Winters of rest can feel depressing with their lack of activity and felt productivity.
Many plants of all types, from fragile flowers to towering trees, enter a state of rest and reduced activity during winter as critical preparation for their coming spring when new buds will break forth in new life and a massive increase in activity. This dormancy is like when animals hibernate to reduce energy use during winter when energy sources are less accessible. These correlating seasonal habits are essential to survival for the plants and animals through harsh winters and for maximum productivity in the spring.
The animals and plants prepare to face their winters. The gist of their plan is quite opposite to mine. They have no control over the coming winter. They simply prepare. God gives them innate knowledge of how to survive this harsh season beyond their control.
God gives us similar innate knowledge, but our pride gets in the way. Humans are the only creatures with a soul and rationality. With rationality and the ability to reason comes the flip-side—pride. Other creatures simply obey their innate knowledge to prepare for winter.
As far as winters in our lives are concerned, we fight tooth and nail, trying our best to exhibit control over anything concerning us. We crave normalcy. We try to maintain a homeostasis in life, not just our bodies. Ultimately, our desperate attempt to achieve and display normalcy kicks our body, mind, and spirit out of a healthy balance, further exacerbating any problems already present in our oncoming winter. Instead of accepting the season as it comes, we try to change the season, something typically beyond our control.
What if we recognized the necessity, usefulness, and beauty of winters in our lives? Would we then embrace and lean into them to learn what we can during such seasons instead of kicking and screaming in a tantrum-like attempt to make them change?
Jesus said His yoke is easy and His burden is light (Matthew 11:30). He didn’t say this applied some of the time or most of the time. Since He gave no such specifics, we can understand His statement as a constant, as God is the only constant.
Whether it is a harsh winter, hot summer, or just the changing of the seasons, I need God’s constancy in my life. I need His constant love, His constant presence, His constant peace. This reminds me of the perfect peace, or shalom shalom mentioned only in Isaiah 26:3, my motto verse, which says, “Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on thee because he trusteth in thee.” The following verse applies to every season we face: Trust ye in the LORD for ever: for in the LORD JEHOVAH is everlasting strength (Isaiah 26:4). Do you see the constancy?
We are to trust God and keep our minds on Him in every season because He is everlasting strength. Remember, He designed the seasons in nature and in our lives, so He knows our needs change, and He is already there ready with what we need. We need to trust Him, lean in, and know that He has us and our seasons in the palm of His constant-loving hand.
Jesus also said that in this world we will have tribulations, but to be of good cheer because He has overcome the world (John 16:33). This tells us that we can expect ups and downs, ebbs and flows, and changing seasons, but in these we are to be of good cheer—the constant gift only the constant God can give.
Being of good cheer sometimes gets twisted into our thinking that we need to deny or defy our situation. God doesn’t tell us to do this, and we are given example after example of embracing, not rejecting, the various seasons in the nature God designed.
The heroes we look to in God’s Word had to embrace their different seasons to be effective. Look at Joseph’s many seasons as a hated brother, a prisoner, being in charge, and then helping and reuniting with his family. Look at Esther’s life: she went from being an exile and orphan to being a queen God used to save the Jewish people. We have plenty of examples from God’s Word and God’s design in nature to help us understand that our life will have different seasons, and there is a unique purpose even in the most painful seasons. Those seasons are necessary to prepare us for what is ahead.
Lean in and learn from your seasons; don’t fight against something you cannot control. Know that like the trees and the plants, your buds are bound up tight for the present moment but will burst through in new life in a season just around the corner.
If you are going through a winter right now, know that God is allowing it for your benefit. Lean into Him and the season you are in. Be present; don’t miss a moment, blessing, or lesson. Remember that winters are a season of less activity and seemingly less productivity, but they are necessary for the amazing spring and summer to come.
*Note: Seasons in life as discussed in this post refer to a natural order of life. I in no way advocate someone staying in a dangerous or life-threatening situation such as an abusive relationship.