It makes me want to interrupt Job 38:22, if I dared. “Have you entered the storehouses of the snow, or…” “YES.”
I admit we were overdue for a solid winter since 1996’s snowpocalypse. You’d be surprised how relatively dry and warm winter can be in the valleys of the Rockies, so hey, if you’re going to interrupt my high country hiking and lake boating for nine months, at least go for broke. And it’s not like our plucky firefighters won’t be happy for the coming snowmelt.
Another eight inches of powder blew in last weekend. Having already gotten enough white stuff to rival ’96, whose snow depth made it difficult to get back up after falling down – and oh yeah, it being March – everyone I know reacted with an immense groan. Even the incurable pollyannas. Sure, the skiiers were deliriously happy. Sure, the roadside berms of plowed snow are now so high that it’s actually become quite safe to drive. But…come on. It was magical at first, God. Now our optimism is worn out. Time to shake your mane and sack the White Witch.
I’m reminded of Casting Crowns:
I was sure by now
God You would have reached down
And wiped our tears away
Stepped in and saved the day
But once again, I say “Amen”
And it’s still raining
I think of friends whose children battle harrowing personality disorders, with only slow progress every year. Cancers that keep morphing and leaping fences. Foreign ministry partnerships that just aren’t seeing fruit. Hopeful signs, Bibles purchased, friendships maintained for decades, but nobody stepping into the kingdom, into eternal life. Prayers for prodigal friends that just never seem to land.
Our hearts grow weary.
“When will this end, Lord?”
And I think of what has become one of my favorite quotes:
“Patience is more than endurance. A saint’s life is in the hands of God like a bow and arrow in the hands of an archer. God is aiming at something the saint cannot see, and He stretches and strains, and every now and again the saint says–‘I cannot stand anymore.’ God does not heed, He goes on stretching till His purpose is in sight, then He lets fly. Trust yourself in God’s hands.” – Oswald Chambers
Patience 101 is endurance. Patience 401 is accepting a season’s purpose.
Seasons aren’t random. God has tilted our planet and written nature’s rules so that all depends on the rise and fall of daylight’s duration. Without the seasons, crops would die, forests would burn, and the powerful, delicate life clinging to the surface of this earth would not be possible.
So it is with our lives. Whatever you believe about sovereignty and the source of suffering, God is up to something in our trials, and that something is usually far more important than any other facet. A season must accomplish its purpose. God is unapologetic over this. I know – you don’t care. Or part of you doesn’t. You just want your breakthrough. I do, too. We’re like kids who love rolling around in the snow until being asked to shovel it.
Perhaps that’s why God gently, lovingly extends our winter. He sees the shadow of our degeneracy.
This isn’t to say stop praying. Perhaps practice in prayer and intimacy is his purpose for you. The mysteries of prayer are great; I do believe God allows them to make a difference.
But I also believe there are trials to which God has set a fixed ending time and refuses to budge by even one second.
A far better question to ask, then, would be: “God, what do you want me to become through this?”
Don’t ask this just to get the trial over with, either. That wastes the lesson. Let us be willing to open our hearts to valuing the lesson, believing that it really will make us better people, closer to the image of God. That’s hard to appreciate in times of suffering, I know. But the day will come when you’re glad it happened.
Because if there is so much as one forest fire anywhere in this hemisphere this summer after the raging white dump we’ve just experienced, I shall be quite cross.