Ahh, January!

I’m writing this on a dark, dreary, and cold January morning. I look out my window and see the slight drizzle and wet roads. I see up above nothing but a blanket of gray clouds covering an earth below of dark browns and lifeless yellows. 

Depressed yet? We needn’t be. I told Laura just the other day that one of the advantages of winter is the increased anticipation for spring. In the cold soil of dormancy lie the seeds of new growth and harvest.

Never forget that. “For everything there is a season,” writes Qoheleth, the wise Teacher. “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 has been planted” (Ecclesiastes 3:1-2, ESV).

From our perspective, “under the sun,” a phrase oft repeated in Ecclesiastes, life seems meaningless, a “chasing after the wind.” Seasons come and seasons go. Life seems pointless and purposeless. French philosopher and atheist, Jean-Paul Sartre once wrote, “Here we are eating and drinking, to preserve our precious existence, and that there’s nothing, nothing, absolutely no reason for existing” (Nausea, 1938).

The reason for his despair was because he could only see (and believe) what was under the sun. In Sartre’s world, to quote the White Witch in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, “It’s always winter, but never Christmas.”

This world is but a “shadlowland” (C. S. Lewis), and we are not mere mortals. We are not bound to a reality under the sun. Quoting Lewis again, “If we find ourselves with a desire that nothing in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that we were made for another world” (Mere Christianity).

Every season we face in this life—the birth of a child, the death of a loved one, the start of a new job, divorce, financial hardship—is redeemable in the grand scheme of eternity. Pain and sorrow remind us of the hope which is to come. Joy and happiness remind us of the ultimate joy found in restoration with God. “God has made everything beautiful in its time” (Ecclesiastes 3:11). “He has put eternity into [our] hearts” (ibid.), which gives us the privilege of seeing “above the sun.”

It may be winter in your heart right now, but spring is coming. Hope will endure. We live in the shadow of eternity, but one day we will live on the other side of the shadow. Until then, let us give thanks for winter in anticipation of the coming of spring and the promise of hope restored.

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope” (Romans 15:13, ESV).