As I was walking to my car Monday morning, I stopped and examined my rose bushes. I take a little bit of pride in my yard and the flowers around my house. I looked them over to see how they were doing. After all, the cultivating and manicuring efforts are already in full swing. Much to my delight, blooms have already appeared on my bushes! It won’t be long until a cacophony of colors will burst forth and dress my house for the summer.
Blooming flowers means one thing: spring has officially sprung. If you live near where Jess and I live, you know that this past winter was long and miserable. I will never be happy with a winter unless I live somewhere that doesn’t have one. I take no joy in snow or temperatures below 60 degrees. I want to live in year-round warmth and to be able to wear my flip-flops. That certainly is not the case where we live now.
The thing that I dislike the most about winter is that everything is so drab. All the leaves have fallen off the trees, and the flowers have died. We are forced to live in a perpetual grey. I get excited when the death of winter begins to give way to the life of spring. I am happy to announce that we are in the midst of this transition.
Death giving way to life is a central theme in what we, as Christians, believe. It is the axis on which our faith revolves. We just celebrated Easter a couple weeks ago. That is the pinnacle of life coming out of death. Not only did Jesus rise to life three days after he died, but he also raises us to new life with him. Colossians 3:1 tells us that.
Christ defeated sin and death so that we could become new creations. 2 Corinthians 5:17 reads, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!” When we place our faith in Jesus, our old, sinful selves die with him on that cross, and our new, righteous selves are raised with him and walk out of that now-empty tomb.
That is not the only time that God will bring us from death to life in our lives. There will be many times for each of us when things will not go our way. Unfortunately, death and decay are in the very fabric of life. There are a million ways in which we experience that: divorce, broken friendships, loss of a job, absentee parents, financial failure, health problems, and many more. We all experience the heartbreak of death in this world many times and in many ways.
These are the winters of our lives. The times in which we look around and don’t see beauty. No birds are chirping in the background. Instead, we are struck with the deafening sound of silence. We desire to feel the warmth but are constantly pierced to the bone by the frigid air of helplessness.
These are the worst times of our lives. These are the times in which we have to cling to the promise of Easter, which is that there is hope. We are nothing if we do not have hope.
That is ultimately what our faith is: hope. We are hoping that Jesus is who he says that he is. We are hoping that God is going to work all things for our good and his glory. We are hoping that when we die, we will leave all sorrow and pain behind and spend eternity in heaven. Faith is hope.
Going through my divorce was the hardest and loneliest time in my life. If you’re unaware, it happened just as the world shut down due to the pandemic. I couldn’t be around my family and friends nearly as much as I needed to be, even if I pretended that everything was ok. I spent a lot of time alone in my house. I was left with nothing but a hope that God would somehow turn the situation into something good and fan the flame of my joy that had dwindled to just an ember. I learned a valuable lesson: if you have hope, that is all that you need.
Many of you know my story and know that God brought the most wonderful woman into my life at the end of that year. Jess had gone through the same thing that I did and faced the exact same struggles. We are now happily married and live a life full of joy, laughter, and love. That season of my life was the darkest time I have ever faced; it was my bleakest winter. Thanks be to God that he orchestrated the most amazing springtime to follow.
I have said this a million times, and I will continue to say it: I am no one special. Yes, I have a great argument for being the most blessed man to ever live. Really though, God has a clever way of making all his children feel that way. If God is willing to do what he did for me, then he is also willing to do it for you. It doesn’t matter how rough of a winter any of you will face, God has a miraculous spring in store for you. We just have to hold on to that hope, and Romans 5:5 promises us that this ‘hope does not put us to shame’.