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Northern Winters

Some seasons in life are like an endless winter in the north. I would know… I’ve survived about 18 Minnesotan winters.

Just opening your front door, the cold air is piercing, and when the wind hits, you reconsider the importance of what brought you outside to begin with. Your eyes water, and your nose runs. Despite four layers of clothing, you are chilled to the bone. Your own breath is creating icicles on your scarf, and your eyelashes keep freezing together. As snow swirls around you, everything is white. You can’t see far in front of you but occasionally see a lifeless tree. Then your fingers go numb, and breathing in the cold air becomes a chore. You question why you left the warmth of home and consider that maybe you could just never leave your doors again. Yet you trudge on, with a faint memory of what it is to be warm.

As I trudged through a long, dark winter in my spiritual life, I repeatedly begged God to bring me to a warm sanctuary. I didn’t feel the heat for months upon months. I often felt numb. I struggled to keep my feet moving, to continue walking and praying.

It’s easy to obey and follow Christ when we feel excited and passionate and see God moving. But it is true obedience when times feel cold and lifeless.

My friend Gabby shared with me that, “God honors your faithfulness and your pursuit of His heart, that even when feeling abandoned you never gave up. . . even the places you have deemed hopeless and have held pain, He will turn into doors of Hope. And in the wilderness, He will speak tenderly to you and renew that first love (Hosea 2:14-15).”

Even Jesus endured the pain of feeling that the Father wasn’t there, asking, “Why have you forsaken me?” Still, He rejoiced in hope during those times as much as in times when His glory was revealed.

As I look toward my move to India, I am grateful for the difficulty of this past season. It has stretched my faith and deepened my joy in ways that I know will cling to in the future. God’s presence is that much sweeter to me now, and I have seen Him bring hope into the dark and desperate places.

The icy barrenness of winter brings a deeper joy and gratefulness when warm, fruitful seasons come around. And as endless as the winter feels sometimes, the rain of spring is sure to come, bringing summer, and eventually a harvest.

When it seems too cold to breathe, press on, knowing that the hope of what is ahead is greater than the struggle. Remember that Jesus endured the same pain and is with you through it.