It’s been a tough winter here in Philadelphia and in many places across the country. It seems like the snow has fallen every other day, the temperature has been way colder than it has been in recent memory, and anything that begins to melt during the day, turns into dangerous ice by nightfall. Power has been lost, schedules have been interrupted, pipes have frozen, and many backs are sore from endless shoveling.
What are we to make of all of this?
After I discovered that grumbling, complaining, being frustrated, and getting angry actually produce very little change in the weather pattern, I began to reflect on the question, “What does God want us to learn from this winter?” Or to ask it in a different way: “How can we glorify God in the midst of a difficult winter?” Here are a few ways my thoughts were directed:
Glorify God in Humility
The winter weather reminds us that we are not in control. We desperately want to believe that we are, but the reality is that we do not ultimately control ANYTHING in our lives. We do things, we make plans, we live our lives—but God is the one that governs everything that happens. Reflecting on this idea, James says, “Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit”— yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.” As it is, you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil.” James 4:13-16 Nothing like a city-stopping snow storm to remind us of this humbling reality!
Glorify God Through Mission
Snow and ice provide opportunities to love and serve our neighbors. Shoveling them out, pushing a stuck car, clearing off a neighbor’s car, offering to grab something at the store for an elderly person that may be house-bound—are all practical ways to love and serve. As the author of Hebrews states, “Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.” (Hebrews 13:16)
Glorify God by Remembering the Gospel.
The beauty and whiteness of the snow remind us of that great promise in Isaiah 1:18: “Come now, let us reason together, says the Lord: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool.” Let every fresh snow fall remind you that our hideous sins have been forever covered by our great Savior (who, by the way, is described as dressed in clothing as white as snow [Matt. 28:3]).
Glorify God by Transformation.
God graciously uses inconvenient and frustrating situations as a means to reveal the sin in our hearts. If you are that angry about someone taking the parking space you shoveled out, then you have a heart problem, not a snow problem. If your plans being changed because of the weather causes you to complain, worry, or treat others poorly, then you don’t need warmer weather; you need repentance. Perhaps the Holy Spirit is using this winter as a means to reveal areas in your life where He would like to affect change. The inconveniences, frustrations, and hardships of life can spiral us into sin or be used to build godly character – the difference has everything to do with our hearts.
May God grant us the grace to humble ourselves before Him, seek to serve our neighbors, always remember our great Salvation, and grow in Christ-likeness – and may He use any means necessary towards these ends – even if it means more snow this winter!
Steve is the Pastor for Discipleship & Mercy at the Northeast Congregation of Grace City Church. He and his wife Abby are a blast to serve Jesus with.