For me, January signals a season of bleakness. The fa-la-la of Christmas is over. The decorations and sparkle and gifts are boxed up and put away, leaving empty spaces and a stark-looking home. Quiet holy moments have been replaced with busy routine. Short days and cold weather, colder than December, polar-vortex-cold. New resolutions and goals will crumble to dust for most of us by next week.
Depressing? I don’t mean this to be. I mean to be realistic. Death is part of life and winter is a picture of death. Naked trees. Unseen animals, hibernating or at least taking cover. Flower bulbs safely entombed for the duration, hoping for spring. But even in this semi-conscious trance, God breaks through with glimmers of His beauty. This morning, as I drove to work, bemoaning the end of Christmas break, a glorious sunrise accompanied me. I remembered. God is still gracious, still loving, even when His fingerprints are invisible.
I need to trust Him in the dark. In every season of life.
It’s been a dark year. Death has touched me far too often. Five friends died, all young. All but one in their fifties (and that dear one only fifteen). All seemingly before their time. And yet, in the mystery of God’s ways, all were right on time. God tells us we’re each ordained a certain number of days before we’ve even had one of them. What we have is enough. And He is present with us through them all. For my friends, it was enough days for them to give their hearts to their Savior. And to believe that this life is not the end of the story. Those realities bring great comfort to their families.
And yet, it doesn’t cover the loss. Deep sadness doesn’t flee at will.
When Job experienced profound loss, he said, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will depart. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised.” (Job 1:21)
The Lord takes. We will each experience winter sometime in our life. We have a sober reminder that life is a vapor. Life on earth will end at some point for each of us, a fact that unites us as humans. Not one of us can escape death. Knowing that gives me a renewed appreciation for life and a resolve to live every day I have for Christ. Your season of loss will probably feel unending — but it won’t last forever. Just as the circle of life continues in nature, with trees preparing to bud and flowers to bloom even now as the earth is gripped by an arctic blast, death is followed by life. Spring will burst forth in its time. And Christ will return and set all things right.
And the Lord gives. As we start this new year, Steve and I have a vivid reminder of life still growing, unseen, during the darkness. We began last year with two little granddaughters, and now the number of our grandchildren has doubled. Two baby boys were added to our fold in 2014. In the midst of a season of much sadness, God has given us two more souls to cherish.
I trust that this year, new blessings will be added to your life. Even in the dark.