It is January in Middle Tennessee and I am sitting at my desk journaling some thoughts for another blog post. My favorite wrap is draped over my shoulders and I gratefully sip on my steaming cup of green mint tea. As I peer out the window I see the sky is dressed in heavy gray clouds and there is a light but steady rain coming down. The forecast calls for a forty-degree day but it is evident that the predicted temperature will be a struggle to reach.
Suddenly I see something that a lot of people would not expect to see in the first month of a calendar year. Living in Illinois for 10 years prior, I never once remember feasting my eyes in the dead of winter on what has captured my attention at this moment. My eyes are drawn to a flurry of activity as I watch a large flock of robins hopping about my front lawn as if it was a spring day! Yes—ROBINS. Robins in JANUARY!
I remind myself again that this is Tennessee and the temperatures here are not always defined by the rules of the winter season. I continue to watch these little birds and grow even more intrigued with them as they stir another one of my senses to life. Not only are these feathered creatures fluttering about but they are SINGING! In spite of the chill and rain of the day their song reaches my heart and I smile at this unusual display of what could be defined as a seasonal tug-of-war. This moment in time suddenly fills me with hope of a promise once again. My bones may feel chilled but my soul is suddenly warmed with a reminder that the robins always come back. Winter never lasts forever! For every winter season, a spring must follow.
As I ponder this promising thought, my mind races back to another cold frigid winter morning in Illinois where we were living at the time. It was early March of 2006. After a lengthy illness my mother had finally gone to be with her beloved Lord just a few weeks before. The pain from that loss was great and I was still very deep in my grieving process. Sipping on a cup of tea, I stood staring out my kitchen window into the backyard missing her very much. Suddenly a lone robin swooped down landing on a leafless dormant tree branch. In spite of that damp cold and dreary day, this sweet bird began to sing his song as though the sun was beaming down on him. As I marveled at this tiny creature I felt a tug on my heart. I knew God was sending me a message of hope as I “heard” these words spoken so clearly to my heart:
“Remember my promise. Even in your winter, there is always the hope of a spring. Just because you did not see the robin all winter does not mean he stopped singing. You do not see your mother now but she is still singing and her winter is gone forever. Rejoice and sing for your spring is coming; not only in the natural but in the spirit as well. Rejoice!”
I remember shedding quiet tears of joy in that moment. God had seen my grief and in that brief moment through one little robin’s song, He brought comfort to my broken heart. It was indeed what I often refer to as a “GOD WINK” moment. God saw me and winked letting me know He understood my struggle. In that moment I knew I was not alone in my grief because my Heavenly Father was sending his comfort which gave me me joy in the midst of sorrow.
“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.” ~Matthew 5:4 NKJV
I want to share some thoughts with you regarding “winter seasons.” Winters are not confined to the month on a calendar nor are they exclusively defined by the reading on a thermostat. The effects of a weather related winter can often be mild in comparison to another type of winter. The winter I am referring to is one that is emotional, physical, and sometimes even spiritual. These type of winters can bring a depth of cold to the soul that can paralyze a life and bring a despair that may seem unending.
HAVE YOU BEEN THERE?
ARE YOU THERE NOW? The list can be endless.
The chronic illness that has lingered far too long…
The marriage that grows more difficult with each passing day…
The teenager who continues to walk in rebellion…
The work place environment that continues to wear you down…
The bitter pain of betrayal from the one person you felt you could really trust…
The depression that grips you day after day…
The _____________________________ (you fill in the blank)
You know exactly what I mean. You have done all you know to do and experienced every emotion you possibly could. Yet for all the crying and the praying and the pleading and exhaustion nothing seems to change.
Even worse, you feel convinced that no one really understands what you are going through. My friend I know what you are going through. I have been there…more than once. No my “winter” may not have looked exactly like yours because the circumstances were probably different. But it is still a winter! How I wish I could promise you that you are going to wake up tomorrow and your frigid season of the soul will be over. I cannot. But I can tell you that one day you will wake up and the cold death grip of your winter will be loosened and you will see that spring has finally returned. What you thought was dead suddenly begins to show signs of life. Regardless of how cold or how long your winter has been, in that moment you will find yourself beginning to experience a twinge of hope once more.
Weeping may endure for the night, but joys comes in the morning. ~Psalm 30:5 NIV
So my friend, do not give up! Hold on a bit longer. With each passing day the end of your winter draws just a little closer. And please…whatever you do, do not isolate yourself. Don’t try to face your winter alone. Find at least one person to walk this season out with you…to pray with you…to cry with you. All it takes is one to ease the burden just a little.
I will say this again. Winters do not last forever. Listen now. What is that you hear? Is it the sound of song? A song that only a tiny feathered creature can joyfully create as he helps to usher in a new season. Go ahead. Dare to take a peek out your window. You may be pleasantly surprised to see that it was true after all. The robins always come back!
PS: Friend, are you feeling “stuck in winter” today? It would be my privilege to pray for you. Leave a message in the comments…no details needed unless you want to share. You can simply say “pray for me.” Don’t give up. Your Spring is coming.
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