This week much of the United States will be experiencing dangerously cold temperatures, with some forecasts of wind chills near 50 degrees below zero! Most will not be able to see any sign of the sun, let alone bask in its heat. Depending on which part of the country some reside, these Winters can last from one month to six months. Some may wonder if the cold will ever end or if they will ever see the sun or feel its warmth on their skin. I live in Las Vegas and it was sunny and warm enough here yesterday that I sat on my patio sans shirt and simply relished the heat as it hit my face after a few chilly months of being indoors. Whether it’s the first day after a long Winter or those first steps onto your favorite beach, there is something very healing in being exposed to warmth after a prolonged period of being kept in the cold and the dark of a Winter season.
For many, life can seem like a bitter cold and extended Winter season void of sunlight, leaving them desperate and begging for some relief in the way of sunbeams and a warming heat. It’s been so long since they basked in the glow of the sun that they may wonder if they will ever feel or see it again. I know this all too well. There is an agonizing cry out to God for any relief, any comfort, any sign that he is aware of your situation and is listening to prayers you feel are bouncing off the ceiling. Many of the world’s most successful leaders endured seasons of cold and darkness that left them questioning everything, including their own faith. As recent as yesterday I read the horrific stories of two prominent pastors of megachurches committing suicide because they were in such a dark place that even their faith in God was overwhelmed by the severity and chill of their circumstances. A verse in Matthew chapter six says that if the light within you has turned to darkness, how great and massive that darkness can be. If the cold temperatures and the dead of Life’s Winter months are so great that even studied church leaders can not escape its cold grip, we must all be on alert to protect the light and heat placed within each of us as God’s children.
One of my favorite places to be, my happy place, if you will, is on the beach. Besides just being overwhelmed by the sheer beauty and majesty of a mighty ocean being reduced to gentle waves kissing the sandy shore where I’m laying, there is also a physical relaxation of soaking up the sun and being warmed from the inside out by its heat. In that small period of restoration there is such a healing peace and natural euphoria that is hard to put into words. All life’s stress and issues seem to melt away, at least for the duration of my time in the sun, and the long Winter months become a distant memory. Perhaps your Winter is one of a serious illness or a less than adequate employment situation. Maybe its a strained relationship with certain family members or friends. Or if like me, it is just the pain of being alone when your best life would be one shared with a special someone. Whatever the source of your sunless days, they can and often do seem like an eternity as you beg God for his mercy in your situation while you seek any comfort or shelter from the elements, like being left out in the cold with no source of heat to warm your face.
But….there is good news! God may take us places we would never choose to go on our own, but He will never leave us there too long. When Job was exposed to the harshness of a cold Winter that left him with nothing but frostbite in the form of death, destruction and even physical disease, he begged God to take his life and put him out of his misery. But God in his never-ending mercy and compassion restored Job to a level even higher than the one from which he was removed, and reimbursed him many times over for his losses. I can share with you from recent experience that when God looks down and says “Ok child, I guess you’ve had enough. Sit back and watch what I’m about to do for you!”, and you once again feel the warmth of the sun and the Son on your face as it warms your entire being, the healing restorative power is indescribable. In a very real sense, it is the bitter chill of sunless days that cause you to fully appreciate the restoration of the Son’s rays! And you find in that warming heat love, joy, peace, fullness and rest from life’s challenging seasons. There is simply nothing in all the world like being brought back to life by the warmth of God’s compassion and love. Malachi 4:2 read like this;
“For those of you who fear my name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its wings”. And Ecclesiastes says that it is pleasant for the eyes to see the sun.
So today I pray that my readers, whatever part of the world they may live in or however cold it may be there, can hold on until they can once again experience the heatwave they seek and can shake the chills of life’s bitter cold temps as they anticipate the end of their Winter season. Blessings to each of you.