It was a Thursday night. I was baking muffins with some girls whom I was watching for the evening when I heard, “It’s snowing.” I gasped and said “Go, go, GO. Let’s go outside!” We dashed out the front door, and white snow flakes swirled in the air. They were perfect. We joyously danced and jumped up and down on the front porch, celebrating the first snowfall of the season.
It wasn’t surprising when the snow didn’t stick to the ground the next day, and the winter wonderland returned to rain and brownish grass. But it didn’t matter. There was snow. For some reason, it brought hope—of a new season and reminders that life really does move forward (even when sometimes it feels like we are stuck).
I love all seasons, but I especially love the start of each season. The first spring magnolias and the first tulips. The first hot summer days and brilliant sunsets. The first leaves that start to turn colour and fall to the ground. Something we haven’t had for an entire year is back again, and it feels exhilarating. It is the same with winter.
Winter means so many things. It means candlelit dinners with friends and sharing delicious food. It means snowshoeing, sledding, and ice skating by City Hall. It means looking up into the sky and seeing swirling snowflakes, while sticking out your tongue to try to catch some.
This love for winter is rooted in biblical spirituality. The beauty of nature points to deeper biblical truths that come alive in our hearts. They serve as reminders of who God is, and who we are.
Here are four:
We can give thanks in tough circumstances
As winter settles in, it gets tough. It doesn’t mean I don’t still love it, but there are days when I enjoy it less. The bitter cold and the snow storms unpleasant. Car accidents remind me that life is precious and death can sneak up unexpectedly. During winter, I have faced some of my hardest moments.
The weight of grief: feeling as if I was sitting at the bottom of a swimming pool while the weight of the water pushes down on me because of the death of a close friend. Family brokenness and divide: not knowing how or when things may start to mend or get better. Doubt and longing: an anxiousness to be certain of who God is and what he wants to do with my life as I entered my mid-twenties.
The harshness of the winter climate is a reminder that all things are gifts from God. Each day is planned and set forth by him. He is in control of all things. God is present in each moment. He is there in the summer evening sunsets and in the harsh winter wind. While they look different, each day is a gift from God.
The way we respond to God changes our perception and experience of his gifts, although it doesn’t change the gift itself or the gift-giver. Embracing tough circumstances and heart pain with even a small amount of thankfulness helps us remember that God is good and that he is in control. I don’t have to be thankful that life is hard. But we can be thankful that God is stable and secure, unchanging and reliable when life feels chaotic and out of control (1 Samuel 2:2). We can be thankful that no matter what the circumstance, God can use all things for his eternal good and to bring greater blessing into our lives.
We can rest with peace
Winter is a time to get cozy, warm, and light candles. In Denmark, the idea of Hygge is everywhere: being indoors with friends and family, sharing life and food. It is a warmness that brings joy in long and dark winters. Life slows down in winter. I am less willing to cram my already-to-full schedule. In the evening I choose to stay home rather than face walking to coffee shops.
In winter hibernation and Hygge come together for me. I have to choose who and what I fill my time with. It is in winter that I realize the most that I can not do everything. The freedom to say no brings us peace. Rest is a gift from God, and a gift we should embrace wholeheartedly (See Matthew 11:28). I’ve learned how much better I do at work and in relationships when I live, serve, and give from a place of rest.
We can celebrate with joy
With winter comes the promise of spring. Dead dead leaves and sparse vegetation point to the coming of new life and fullness. We can celebrate and enjoy winter fully because it doesn’t last forever. It ends. Everything has an end—and the end of death is new life. In Spring, Easter underscores how death brings new life. Jesus died on Good Friday, and he rose on Easter Sunday. He left us the promise of the resurrection and gave us the gift of eternal life through faith (Ephesians 2:8).
We can celebrate even in the dead of winter because there is a promise of coming joy in new life. We can celebrate and enjoy the gift that winter is because, as life moves on and seasons change, it will soon be gone again for another year.
We can wait with hope
Waiting with hope is meaningful. The dawn of winter is a season of waiting. Advent is about waiting for the birth of Jesus (celebrated at Christmas). Since the time of his death and resurrection, Christians have awaited his second coming. Winter is a season of waiting. It is a time of slowing down, listening, and drawing close to God. Winter welcomes us into a quiet place, to hear what God would have for us.
But waiting can be painful, slow, and sometimes boring. In my impatience, I want to throw my hands up into the air and declare, “God let’s get this show on the road! Start to work in ways that I want, please!” I too often think that I am right and that God needs to get a move on. Waiting can hurt because even though God has the ability to answer prayers of reconciliation or direct us into a relationship, he doesn’t. In his wisdom he says no, or doesn’t seem to act—and while waiting and praying, I can too easily grow discouraged.
I am learning that in the waiting, my hope cannot be in my circumstances changing. My hope cannot be in my desire for family restoration, or in that boy changing his mind about me. My hope needs to be in God, who in his goodness, grace, and sovereignty acts with perfect and complete wisdom (Psalm 62:5-7).
In the waiting, is God enough? If we never get what we wait and hope for, would God be sufficient? He must be. In the Bible, God’s promises are true and certain, worthy of the wait. Jesus will return, and God will destroy evil once and for all. Other details in life like marriage, family reconciliation, or even work-related dreams—those aren’t promised.
As we wait and pray and trust in God’s wisdom and plan for our lives, let’s choose to believe that he really is good. We can wait with hope because, even in the waiting, we have access to the Giver of Eternal Hope, and that is enough.