I wake to another chilled day with snow gathering menacingly on the driveway. “Ugh…will this cold ever end?” I sigh with exasperation. Dread fill me at the thoughts of even getting out of bed, let alone having to take my daughter to school. The looming days of winter ahead bring nothing but overwhelming frustration and hopelessness. Joy seems to be hibernating, waiting for the first warm day of spring. But I know, the bible doesn’t tell us that joy is circumstantial…in fact joy is supposed to be sought in struggles and hardship as well as prosperity and comfort. So what am I to do with the cold?…wish it away until the weather the changed, or redeem it by finding a way to cultivate joy not in spite of it, but because of it?
Be thankful…speak thankful. The weather is what it is. I can’t change it by speaking harshly about it or grumbling because of its existence. It is winter, it’s going to be cold but I don’t have to harbor bitterness against it in my heart. On the days the sun is shining I can be thankful to see the bright rays, when its cloudy and freezing I can be grateful for a warm house. And I’m convinced, it’s not enough just to be thankful in my heart…thankfulness is meant to be shared. If I feel thankful, I should speak thankful and not waste words by complaining about something I can’t change anyway.
Remember that God made everything good. God did not make winter just to make me suffer. He created seasons and saw that they were good. He has a purpose for all things that He made. Though I can’t claim to know the mind of God, I think there are plenty of redeeming qualities to the cold weather. Whether I take it as a time to contemplate more deeply, slow down and spend more time in prayer because of being stuck inside or I see it as another decorative display of God’s creative design…I cannot look at this season as an inevitable depression but as a time to depend more desperately on Him to provide me with the joy and strength I need. Because if it weren’t for these seasonal moments of melancholy I would go on not knowing of my great need for the One who IS joy.
Think about someone else. Winter can be a much more difficult time for those who are homeless or who have little resources to stay warm. Imagining the homeless man who my husband has befriended, walking the cold streets and sleeping in his car gives me a much better appreciation for what I have and makes my trek from my car to the door at the grocery store a lot less tedious. But a step beyond that…providing him food, blankets or clothing or helping him find a warm place to stay…could take my perspective to a level of sympathy that would erase the winter blues for a while. I could also spend the time I am stuck inside writing letters or sending e-mails of encouragement. In the past, our family has taken the time to visit friends in the hospital, donate household items and clothing to those in need and make treats for our neighbors in order to beat the “me-focused” thoughts that seem to be so much more prevalent when we are stuck inside.
Enjoy the pleasure only winter brings. No matter what the weather has been like through the winter, once January comes to a close I am completely disenchanted by the magic of winter. Dirty wet footprints have been wiped up for the millionth time, runny noses seem like an endless faucet and freezing temperatures have chilled my bones to the point I feel like I may never get warm again and because I let these nuisances overtake my pattern of thought, I am left wishing the winter away leaving behind all the pleasures that I have forgotten about. Sledding can be a thrill as long as I can do it without convincing myself not to because of the hassle of clean-up. Hot chocolate is not the same in Spring. Building snowmen, smashing snowballs, breaking icicles, ice skating, …and for me, layering clothing and wearing warm scarves…can all be praiseworthy events of the chilly season. If I only focus on the bad of winter, bad is how I will feel. But if I seize the opportunities I have before me, I can look forward to the weather because of its unique provisions.