Jeremy Sarber

How to survive winter when you really hate it

Evidently, winter doesn’t pay attention to the calendar. It’s not supposed to begin until late December, but here it is, a foot of snow and temperatures in the teens all before the trees have finished shedding their leaves.

To be clear, I don’t like winter. I’ve tried to find something, anything to enjoy about it, but I’ve come up empty each year. It’s messy, inconvenient, and miserable. Cars and parking lots stay dirty. Commute times and heating bills increase. Preparing to go anywhere is a hassle. And the cold sinks into my body like a million ill-placed acupuncture needles. Spring, come quickly. Amen?

Then again, maybe I’m overlooking the obvious. Maybe winter is terrible, and I’m not supposed to search for its theoretical appeal. Perhaps I should embrace its cruelty and, instead, meditate on its purpose within God’s wise design. After all, he has fixed all the boundaries of the earth; he has made summer and winter (Ps 74:17). I’ll suffer now through March or April because God has providentially ordained it according to his sovereign plan.

I see two lessons here. I wrote about the first earlier this week. To summarize, the Bible doesn’t teach us to cope with hardships by thinking, Things could always be worse. Instead, Scripture encourages us to consider our afflictions in light of the glory to come. In other words, winter gives us a greater appreciation for spring while spring will make winter feel like it was nothing.

Second, winter (i.e., afflictions) is what my pastor would call hard providence.” He’s teaching on the life of Joseph when God directed the steps of many people and orchestrated many events to position Joseph in a place of power so many people could be kept alive (Ge 50:20). Long story short, Joseph had to endure years and years of humiliation and suffering before he could save countless others including his brother, Judah, from whom the Christ would descend generations later.

Like surviving the frozen months of the Midwest, we can persevere, though we don’t particularly enjoy our circumstances. How?” you ask. First, we keep our eye on the prize, straining forward to what lies ahead (Php 3:14, 13). Second, we remember that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose (Ro 8:28). As much as it pains me to accept, even winter is an intentional part of God’s benevolent plan.

I would much rather have warm, sunny days, but for reasons I can’t always know, God gives me snow in November. I trust his wisdom and will.