Is anyone else getting weary of winter? In December, the cold feels novel: the first snowfalls of the season come with Christmas charm to cast a glow around the edges. But what’s enchanting in December becomes mundane in January and downright merciless by February.
I’m sorry Winter, but I feel like it’s time for you to move on!
Morning carpool duty takes on new proportions of courage during this season. Facing the door to my garage each morning, I take a deep breath and prepare for the worst. Mother Nature slaps me in the face as I dart toward my van, a second ferocious wake-up call in case my alarm clock didn’t quite pull me from slumber.
If the biting wind doesn’t wake me up, certainly the white-knuckle driving on slick roads will set my heart to pumping. After I’ve made the trek to school through swirling snow and reversed my passage back home, I breathe a sigh of relief.
Until I hear the weather report five minutes later telling me to expect another 8 inches of snow.
I know I’m not alone in my dislike for the wintry weather conditions. Even the simplest of errands—a gallon of milk from the store or a quick run through the ATM—feel like insurmountable obstacles during these frigid months. I sometimes wonder: How many extra hours would I gain each year if I didn’t have to put on so many layers of indoor and outdoor gear?
Why do I live here again?
Truth is, I know I would miss the seasons if we moved. The cycle of winter-spring-summer-fall has been permanently imprinted on my Northern psyche. And there’s a comfort in knowing this order will always hold. As much as winter tries my patience, I cannot conceive of a reality where I’m not forced to persevere through the storms.
So I look for reasons to endure. “At least it’s pretty,” I say to my kids as we gaze at the snow-covered tundra around us. And I’ve been repeating this phrase like a mantra, hoping it will somehow stir true appreciation in my heart.
A few cold days ago, my daughter came to me at bedtime and asked for a story—something we used to do every night, but a tradition that’s fading as she’s growing older and prefers to read to herself.
Winter’s cold fingers had snuck into the house and sprinkled a chill over the room. “Winter nights are made for cuddling,” I commented as I flipped up the edge of my blanket and invited her to join me in my fleece-lined refuge. She dove in, snuggled close, and our combined body heat defied the angry wind howling outside.
And in that brief moment, a small candle of true thankfulness lit in my heart. Yes, winter can be brutal. Snow days coop us up inside, wreaking havoc on our schedules. Simple tasks like shoveling the front walk or grabbing mail from the box leave us with cold, drippy noses and numb fingers.
But it’s something we survive, together.
There’s a camaraderie among us as we swap stories about icy adventures on the roads and speculate about the loads our roofs can bear. There’s a genuine point of connection as we commiserate about lost mittens, broken snowblowers, and the way our schedules fall apart due to cancellations and poor road conditions.
Winter forces us to slow down. And there’s joy in rediscovering simple pleasures. There’s time for puzzles. Art projects. Family games.
I can’t find gratitude in my heart for the cold itself—I despise that feeling of tightness and pain that seizes me when I’m out in the wind! But I am thankful for the way this season knits us closer together. The perseverance it forces us to develop. The yearning it adds to our hopes for spring.
In the end, winter reminds us that nothing can be taken for granted. Perhaps it’s fitting that our Lenten fast begins in this forlorn stretch of the calendar. For in the absence of our comforts, when busy, breezy summer fun has become a distant memory, we return to simplicity. We remember that life cannot be wrangled completely under our control, that our schedules and plans will somehow work out even when outside forces sweep chaos into our days.
Winters of the Soul
Of course, this is all about so much more than winter, isn’t it? Discerning eyes see it all for what it truly is: This annual journey of the seasons mirrors the rhythm of life itself.
Winter comes to us all, no matter our climate. Its harsh reality doesn’t always douse with snow—sometimes it comes in the form of a dreaded medical diagnosis or disturbing news. Broken relationships and broken dreams. Periods of waiting and longing, and feeling helpless to bring about the hopes we desire.
These seasons of difficulty can be more brutal than the artic wind.
I don’t think God expects us to be thankful for the difficulties themselves, any more than we can be grateful for dangerous roads or life-threatening temperatures. But aren’t there joys, even in these long, dark seasons?
Like winter, hard times can lead to genuine community—with others and with God. They slow us down, returning us to simpler things: introspection, repentance, connection to our own forgotten dreams. As we persevere, day by long day, we gain a strength of heart. Our vain human purposes are reshaped as we seek the hopes of God.
Life won’t always give us summer. But would those warm, golden days be quite as sweet if we didn’t have to weather the cold storms? Would we appreciate spring’s bursting new life if we never experienced the dead of winter?
I wonder, as I reflect on all this, what you are struggling with today. What storm has been blowing through your heart? Maybe you are barely clinging to hope right now. Maybe it seems as though one more burst of wind might sever the tiny thread of faith you have left.
I wish I could force a springtime into your life and make all the troubles melt away. But such wonders can only be accomplished by God—and they will only unfold in His perfect timing.
In the meantime, we take it one day at a time. We bravely share our struggle with others, so they can huddle with us through the storm. And if we can notice some bit of blessing to be thankful for, I believe we can find strength enough for another day.
God, winters are hard. Some of us struggle in this season, feeling lonely and despondent as days crawl by with little sunshine or warmth. Some of us are struggling with winters of the heart—life circumstances that have shaken our hopes and dreams. It can be so hard to hang on here, God—in the cold, in the dark, in the storms.
Help us to endure. To find each other and share our struggles. To be thankful for the blessings we have. We know this season can also hold beauty, Father—harsh winter storms cover deadened landscapes with a fresh canvas of life. Let our hearts be covered today too, with the lightness and joy that comes from renewed hope in You. Amen.
A Verse To Encourage You Today:
“Endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.” (Romans 5:4-5)