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A breath of spring in the cold of winter


Three feet of snow! That was a weather record I didn't really want to participate in. But, sure enough, we woke up that cold New Jersey morning to snow that had literally buried the metropolitan New York area. Even New York had been effectively shut down by the storm. Our little guy wanted to go out in the snow that blanketed our backyard. So we bundled him up and watched as he ventured out into that white stuff. And he promptly disappeared! I went out after him and just about disappeared myself. It took a while for that snow to become manageable and for life to get back to normal. But for those of us who have lived through some pretty long and tough winters, there is one word that sustains us through it all: spring.

You can make it through the winter because you know winter never lasts forever; there's going to be a spring! In fact, spring has never failed to come, no matter how brutal the winter may have been.

God comes to us with an interesting self-description in Romans 15:13. He calls Himself "the God of hope." Because of Him, there will always be a spring. Because of Him, we can make it through the darkest days of emotional and spiritual winter. I guess you could describe hopelessness as always winter. But hope goes like this: every winter will be followed by a spring.

Maybe it's a winter season in your life right now - cold, dark, and maybe you're feeling discouragement or despair. Here's what the God of hope says He wants to do for you: "May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit." Wow!

Let's break this down. God wants to fill you with joy and peace when joy and peace are nowhere to be found in your circumstances. If you dwell on your burdens, fears, wounds, or on how people are treating you, you're going to be filled with discouragement instead of joy, and stress instead of peace. But if you dwell on your all-powerful, all-loving God of hope, you can have a positiveness and peace that's humanly unexplainable. The problems are still there, but God's joy and peace are the wind beneath your wings that enables you to soar, when otherwise you would be grounded. You get that joy and peace, it says, "as you trust in Him.” That means not as you trust in your feelings, not in what humans can do, not in what you can see, but in Him. Maybe it's winter all around you, but it will be spring inside you!

That joy and peace you download from your God of hope will enable you "to overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit." You will not only have enough hope to sustain you, you'll have enough hope to give away to others who are also going through a long winter. God wants you to be a hope receiver so you can be a hope generator! And as you encourage others, even as you're in your own winter season, your hope will grow as you give it to others. In the words of the Bible, "He who refreshes others will himself be refreshed" (Proverbs 11:25).

And, as 1 Peter 3:15 says, "Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have." If you can be an island of hope in a sea of despair, people are going to want to know the reason. And the reason is Jesus. Which means you can use the winter you're going through, to help someone who's watching you go to heaven with you someday!

Spring inside you, even with winter all around you - that's the hope God wants to give you - the hope you can then give to others. You can be their breath of spring in the dark of their winter!

©Ronald P. Hutchcraft 2024


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