A Prayer When it Feels Like Winter Will Never End
- Gregory Coles
- 2017 10 Feb
Why is it so hard for me to believe that spring is coming?
It’s silly to doubt it, I know. In all my years watching the seasons pass, spring has never once failed me, no matter how tardy it may seem. The sun always comes home from a long vacation to melt the forlorn snow. The grass emerges, a little brown at first, then verdant and full of life. The birds return, making nests, whistling solos into a warm blue sky. No matter how long it takes, winter always comes to an end.
But even though I know it’s true—even though I’ve witnessed it year after year—I’m struggling to believe in spring right now.
The world has been grey for so long that I barely remember what it looks like in color. My memories of brighter days have frozen over in the cold, dangling like icicles just out of reach. Hope is hard to hold onto with frostbitten fingers.
Why is it so hard for me to trust that You’ll keep Your promises?
My wintertime despair is about far more than winter itself. It’s the same doubt that overtakes me in every season of difficulty, every setback and sorrow. No matter how many times I’ve seen Your faithfulness in the past, each new dark day pushes me back to the edge of my seat. I hold my breath, poised in suspense, wondering if grace could possibly come through this time.
I’m so much like the nation of Israel, witnessing miraculous salvation one day only to turn around the next day and wail that You’ve abandoned me. Despite all the extraordinary grace I’ve seen, I keep pretending that I have no evidence of Your enduring love. I keep demanding signs and proof of life from a God who has already written me volumes.
My memory is so short.
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If only I were a tree, marking each passing winter with another ring of bark. If only I wore the history of Your faithfulness like a permanent memento in my skin. Maybe then I could learn to believe the promises you’ve made.
Or do even the trees shiver beneath their white blankets, fearing despite all the evidence that winter will never end?
Today, God, I’m not asking for spring to come before its time. I’m just asking that You teach me to cling to a hope that feels far away.
Give me the grace of memory. Remind me of the countless ways, both big and small, that You have already proven Yourself to me. Remind me that, although hopeless times have come and gone like passing seasons, they have never been the end of my story. Remind me of breakthrough and laughter and light.
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Remind me what spring feels like.
As long as the winter lasts, let me learn from it. Give me joy in its simple beauties, in the stark majesty of the trees and the diamond sparkle of ice and snow. Give me the thrill of the sledding hill and the serenity of the snow angel, the delights fashioned from the sky’s frozen tears. Teach me to find life hidden within a world blanketed by death.
When the cold has sunk so deep into my bones that it threatens to define me, give me warmth enough to endure. Give me crackling fireplaces and hot apple cider and blankets shared with friends. Give me encouraging words and embraces at just the right moment. Give me fresh reminders of Your love and grace, small mercies to sustain me until the bigger mercies arrive.
And then, when the time comes, please give me spring again.
There will probably be more winters after this one, more seasons of uncertainty and sorrow and cold. But I choose to trust that there will be a spring for every winter, a hope for every despair. Give me grace to journey through these seasons again and again, as many times as necessary, until death is finally defeated. Give me grace to see every winter through the eyes of hope.
Give me a heart that rejoices in the delights and sorrows of each passing year, a heart that grows warmer with every winter it endures.
Teach me to believe in spring.
Gregory Coles is an author and an English instructor at Penn State University. Learn more at www.gregorycoles.com.
Photo courtesy: Thinkstockphotos.com
Publication date: February 10, 2017