Finding God in our Winter

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The Coldness of Winter

Have you been experiencing the pain of winter in your life? Do you sometimes feel as if God has turned his face away? Are you struggling to understand God’s purposes in your suffering?

Winter can seem all-consuming and never-ending. In it, we can experience a terrible, terrifying aloneness. We feel abandoned. Rejected. Isolated. This is the shape of the soul in winter. To survive through winter requires great fortitude because it can be hard labour.

But consider that it’s hard labour that’s needed and restoring in its own way—the work of praying, pruning and waiting, all in preparation for the fruit that is to come in springtime. Winter can be an incredible time of faith building, a time of walking by faith and not by sight, a time of clinging to the certainty of things hoped for and the assurance of things unseen (Hebrews 11:1). There is no better soil than winter time for growing an enduring faith that withstands the worst storms that life can throw at you. Even when it feels like God has turned his face away from you.

And the pruning…to be stripped bare—naked, fruitless, ugly—right down to the core of our roots. To have everything revealed in all our unsightly glory. To realize how much deadwood we are holding onto because of our fears of letting go. But as every gardener knows, the harder you prune—if done right—the more luscious and bountiful the fruit will be. Winter then becomes a season where God does some of his best creative, revealing work. A mutilation that’s really a cultivation of beauty.

And it’s in winter—during the long, hard, cold months—that our roots grow deep and strong. It’s being battered by the harsh storms that our faith takes hold in the deepest ways—becoming unshakable and unmoveable. And when you’re forced to wait on God, that’s when you’re driven to keep believing even in the face of his silence, because you have nothing else to hold onto.

The Gift of Winter

Can you begin to understand the gift that God is giving you through your winter season, hard as it was to believe there could be anything good about this dark and cold time of your life? But when everything is stripped away and you come before God, naked in your longing and sorrow, you will find your rest and strength and sustenance in him. And most freeing, a heart in winter is supposed to lie dormant so that it can rest and be nurtured. The burden of responsibility lightens in this season and there comes a release to do things you can only do in winter, and to cease doing things that cannot be done in winter. And so, a time to pray, prune and wait on God—and a time to rest.

Digging Deep

Where are you in your story? Are you in a season of winter, or dying to old things? Has God brought you into a place of darkness? Trust him today to reveal the hidden treasure that can be found in this darkness. Regardless of where you are in your story, there are times in all of our lives when we must open ourselves to seeking God with all our hearts, times when he brings us to a place of “death” in some aspect of our lives, so that we can pause and pay attention to him. When we recognize we have no ability in our own strength to change or affect the events around us, we are in position to hear from God. And if you’re currently in the winter season, give yourself permission to grieve with God, to walk through the darkness of your pain, so that you open yourself up to the redemption of your story. Do that, please, I urge you.

Are you hungry for a personal encounter with God? Then take the time to allow him to sweep away the dead things in your life and in your soul. If you’re in winter, prune hard. Cut away the dead things in your life, both spiritually and also practically—what activities, tasks, relationships are draining the life away from you and producing no fruit?

And if you’re ready to do this work of pruning and you want to pursue the full life God has promised you, you can find out more in The Fully Lived Life: Rescuing Our Souls from all that Hold Us Back.

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