All of life moves in seasons. Sometimes things are bright as a glorious summer day, and the next moment winter bleakness has settled in.
I’ve faced some long winters.
Between a childhood in Alaska and adulthood in Northern New York, there are a few things I’ve learned about winter. You can survive it. You can. It’s entirely possible. But you have to do the work. You have to cut the wood, or fill the oil tanks, or store the coal. You have to be wise about where you go and who you listen to. You have to plan ahead.
In Alaska, winters include hours of darkness—days when the skies remain a muted gray and fade into black. Day after day after day.
The honest-to-goodness truth is that God allows us to go through winters in our souls, where things freeze and struggles abound. And we have to be prepared. We can’t be caught unaware. We need to have our fuel stored ahead.
Joseph Bayly says,
“Remember in the darkness what you learned in the light.”
In other words, take the moments in light to inscribe the details into your heart.
As a person learns a room in daylight and can navigate it at night, so we must take the time now to learn who God is so we can navigate the seasons of silence.
When my husband and I moved to Haiti, I spent the first couple months scraping and crawling my way out of depression. Later, I would often sit on the porch in the morning and watch the world wake up. Roosters, donkeys, feet beginning to shuffle along the path.
I would sip coffee and revel in the coolness of dawn.
There, as light splintered the sky, I would read book after book, page after page. From Old Testament to New, I devoured the words. Morning greetings would interrupt me, but soon their predictable pattern added depth and life to my readings.
Light was bright and shimmering, and in the moments of gentleness my heart began to memorize the way, the truth, and the life.
And later? When darkness (so predictably) swirled deep and long again? My knees still knocked, my heart still shuddered, my hands clenched—but my feet walked steady and straight. They navigated the path unswervingly because they knew the way.
It was soon after we arrived home from Haiti that I faced the miscarriage that dumped me back into depression and the icy grip of another winter. But the path out of it was clear. I burned the fuel I had stored, warming my hands on the promises that somewhere outside the silence and confusion, there was a God who would never leave me nor forsake me.
Something stronger than the darkness was guiding them, something was whispering the reminder that out beyond the darkness, God was still there and He had not abandoned me.
The winter was still long. It crept by, weeks turning into months, my journals filling with questions. Where are you, God? Speak! I’m listening! Why aren’t you shaking the strongholds of the enemy? Why am I left wallowing in blackness of night?
And along with the questions came the truth, unwavering.
He knows my sorrow. Step. He never leaves me nor forsakes me. Step. He is well acquainted with grief. Step. God does not fear pain, so He has not left me alone. Step. He will turn my mourning into joy. Step. He is, He was, He always will be.
Step after step, right through the winter months. Right through the break up of spring and the rains that bring new life. Right into the middle of summer, where redemption sings through the clouds and echoes over the bright yellow of dandelions filling the hillsides.
Winters always come. Night always comes. But so does spring. So does morning.
Prepare yourself, friend. Prepare your heart for the silence of God. For there are many things that could never grow if not for dormant winters, on earth and in our hearts.
We need the winters, the quietness of God, to prepare the deepest parts of our spirit for new life.
For after the quietness, after we have spent ourselves on questions, He speaks. And His voice, once a faint whisper, thunders through the heavens and into our lives.
Join me for a 3-part series on the Silence of God. Our next posts will look into surviving God’s silence, and learning to trust God’s silence.