Our Father in Heaven, here in the Midwest it has been a long, and oftentimes bleak and brutal winter. Since early January we seem to have continually been on a loop of snow to freezing rain and ice, to some incredibly cold temperatures, aided by the winds. I’ve seen some of the coldest temperatures and strongest winds of my life this winter. The weather has made travel to some scheduled events difficult and stressful, and at other times has resulted in the cancellation of some travel plans. Even though I have lived in Illinois my entire life, it does seem that the older I get, the less tolerant of the cold I become. Even now, as I write this, the temperature is a near record -2 in March. But recently, I have noticed buds on the trees in our yard, and bulbs poking up out of the soil in our garden. That again reminds me of your faithfulness as you sovereignly control the changing of the seasons. You have made the moon to mark the seasons and the sun knows exactly it’s time for setting. (Psalm 104:19).
Your word tells us that for everything there is a season…. a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted. (Ecclesiastes 3: 1-2). It won’t be long now before we begin to see the farmers in their fields planting their crops, and soon after we will see the corn and bean plants breaking through the soil forming perfect rows in the fields. We’ll enjoy watching bulbs come up in our garden and anxiously wait to see which perennials made it through the winter and which did not. Then, we’ll be visiting our favorite garden shops to replenish our gardens, and watch the plants bloom as they display your glory.
Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. (Luke 12:27)
Great is your faithfulness, Father. We are so thankful that morning by morning your new mercies we see. All that we have needed, your hand has provided.
So even though Spring is not quite here yet, you are showing us signs of its coming, giving us hope. Thank you for your faithfulness.
In Jesus’ precious name we pray,
Lately, I’ve become aware of a number of losses in my life. Perhaps this describes you in this season as well. This is not to be unexpected in a post-Genesis 3 fallen world. Still, there are many losses that I am aware of in recent days, including:
- The news that a dear friend, who has bravely battled cancer for years, has gone into hospice care.
- Saying good bye to dear friends from church as they move to Tennessee.
- Saying good bye to two team members that, even though I had only worked with them for about four months, I very much enjoyed getting to know them and they will be missed.
- Hearing that a dear woman from church has had a recurrence of cancer after more than twenty years.
- Walking with dear friends from church as one of them walks the path of Alzheimer’s disease.
- The upcoming one year anniversary of my father-in-law’s home-going.
- Meeting a new team member who is walking with a brother battling cancer.
- Hearing of a close relative’s loss of their dog that was dear to them.
- Good friends who experienced three deaths in ten days, including two parents.
I hate cancer. I hate death. I hate good-byes.
And yet for the believer, we know that this life is as bad as it will get. We have much to look forward to. We have hope. Hope of no more cancer. Hope of no more tears. Hope of reuniting, with not only friends who have moved away, but of loved ones who have died. No more waiting on medical tests to find out if the cancer has spread. No more suffering.
John in Revelation 21:4 tells us:
He will wipe away every tear from their (yes our!) eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.
But until Heaven, how are we to persevere in this fallen and broken world, when life is so hard and there is so much loss all around us? Consider some of this encouragement from Scripture:
- For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. Romans 8:18
- Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope. Romans 5:3-4
- Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. John 14:1
- Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. Isaiah 41:10
- Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. Psalm 23:4
- But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep. 1 Thessalonians 4:13-14
- Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. John 14:27
- Casting all your anxieties on Him, because He cares for you. 1 Peter 5:7
- “Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” 2 Corinthians 4:16-18.
And of course there are so many more passages from Scripture that provide us comfort and encouragement in the midst of loss. What other verses or passages from the Bible have provided you comfort in the midst of loss?
There are signs of new life as the Midwest embraces spring. As I write this, farmers are in their fields preparing their land for planting. Soon, there will be small little corn and bean plants in perfectly shaped rows emerging in our rich black soil. The redbuds and crabapple trees today are just stunning. There are new buds on our maple tree and fresh green growth on our evergreens around our patio. God is faithful. He will be with you, in the good times and bad.