Article by: Hannah Miller, High School Youth Pastor
It’s no secret that I detest winter! I’m not joking; I hate winter. It’s not just the cold either; it’s the snow that I don’t like. I could handle winter better if it were just cold and dry. Snow, however, makes everything feel ten times harder. I don’t like driving in it, walking in it, feeling it, or scraping it off my car. I know, how dramatic am I?
Here’s the thing, though, as much as I hate winter, there is a valuable lesson that it can teach us. The snow especially. Perhaps after reading this, you will come to see winter and snow in a new light.
Together, let’s look at three lessons we can learn from snow and winter. But first, let’s look at Ecclesiastes 3:1-13:
A Time for Everything
For everything, there is a season and a time for every matter under heaven:
a time to be born, and a time to die;
a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;
a time to kill, and a time to heal;
a time to break down, and a time to build up;
a time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
a time to seek, and a time to lose;
a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
a time to tear, and a time to sew;
a time to keep silent, and a time to speak;
a time to love, and a time to hate;
a time for war and a time for peace.
The God-Given Task
What gain has the worker from his toil? I have seen the business that God has given to the children of man to be busy with. He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, he has put eternity into man’s heart, yet he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end. I perceived that there is nothing better for them than to be joyful and do good as long as they live; also, everyone should eat and drink and take pleasure in all his toil—this is God’s gift to man.
1. “For everything, there is a season.”
When we are in the middle of a winter season in our soul, and it feels like the storm will bury us, it can feel like too much. When the kids keep bringing colds home from school, and we are in a perpetual quarantine, it can feel buried under deep snow. When we lose our job and have spent months looking for work to support our families, but nothing is happening, it can feel like being buried under deep snow. When we seem to be mourning one loss after another, it can feel like being buried under deep snow. We start to wonder when the storm will ever end, and we continually ask God what the purpose of this season could be. However, look at Ecclesiastes 3:1 again: “For everything, there is a season and a time for every matter under heaven.” Every season has a purpose. Gardeners fear for their perennials when there is a sudden drop in temperature but no snow. You see that heavy snowfall acts as a cover to protect the plant’s roots. Without that snowfall, the cold temperatures will freeze the soil at such a deep level that it can cause damage to the root systems, and without roots, plants can’t grow! As annoying and painful as it can feel, that snow often acts as a cover to protect our roots. God uses the seasons of heaviness to help cover and protect the roots of our faith. These seasons of crisis often bring us back to our roots and cause us to explore life on a deep level. When we invite God into that soul searching, he can cover our roots, the foundation of our relationship with him. Crisis often causes us to lean even more on God and reframe our relationship with him. This is a good thing!
2. “He has made everything beautiful in its time” (Ecclesiastes 3:11).
So often, these seasons of crisis and hardship bring such beautiful results. You see, a heavy snowfall acts as a natural fertilizer for plants. Snow is often called “the poor man’s fertilizer” in the gardening community. It is a fantastic source of nitrogen and nutrients that are often in very short supply. After a heavy and insulating snowfall, as that snow melts and the seasons change, the plants thrive and experience rapid growth as that snow melts, and the nutrients work their way deep to the roots. Crisis and hardship can act as a natural fertilizer for our souls. As the seasons change, those hardships bring nutrients that are in short supply deep into our souls. The result is that we come out the other side of that crisis and have essential nutrients for our growth and development. The change in seasons reveals how deeply we have grown through the challenge. It’s often in the light of summer that we see how much we need the nutrients that the heavy snowfall provides to our souls.
3. “Nothing better for them than to be joyful and to do good” (Ecclesiastes 3:12).
Finally, snow protects the roots, soil, and plants from wild fluctuations in temperatures. It acts as a temperature regulation system. Heavy snowfall will protect plants from the damaging thaw and freeze cycle prevalent with fluctuating temperatures. Our relationships with God are also susceptible to the damaging thaw and freeze cycle. Revelation 3:15 says, “I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other!” We need help regulating the temperatures of our souls, or we will risk the temptation to fluctuate continually. On fire for God one minute and cold the next! There is nothing better than to be joyful and to do good. This is such a witness to others. It does not mean that we cannot mourn or weep; even Ecclesiastes reminds us that there are seasons for such, but we would all prefer to be joyful and do good. Heavy snowfall of the soul (if I can call it that) often reminds us of the blessings and reminds us of the beauty of being able to do good. Life is full of ups and downs, but a heavy snowfall often helps us put everything into perspective. We learn to stay hot in our relationship with God, even through hardships.
Ecclesiastes reminds us that there is a season for everything. If you are in a season of heavy snowfall, I want to remind you how loved and cared for you are. We have an amazing Gardener who loves us. He does not begrudge the winter months because he knows what they will produce in our lives. He will care for you as the storm rages, and the snow feels like it’s piling up and adding weight to life. He will see you through this season and bring you into spring. The dormant season will produce life. Don’t lose heart!
If you are in a good season now and the snow has finally melted, and you are flourishing, can I remind you to care for the plants that are still buried under the snow? How can you be a joyful and good presence in the lives of those who are buried under a frozen mound? We need each other! We need the joy to help carry those in sorrow. We need the good deeds; we need the kindness; we need the love. How can you be that person for someone today?