The Winter of Our Soul

by Jan Silvious

Is winter a difficult time of the year for you?

For many people, this drab and dreary season shapes up to be an endurance contest. Despite the dreamy pictures of cozy fires and families eating popcorn and playing games by the hearthside, the reality is that winter forces us to face the elements with a determination to survive.

Think about these words from “Lord, Don’t You Love Me Anymore?” by Ruth Harns Calkin:

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O God

On this cold January morning

I am like a lonely tree

On a distant mountaintop--

Leafless, brittle, trembling.

Howling winds twist me mercilessly.

How long must I wait, dear Lord,

For the brilliant sun

To melt the heavy-packed snow?

And when will you prove

To my aching heart

That one lonely tree

On top of a snow-covered mountain

Has purpose wherever it grows!

As I stand against the forceful elements

I pray, I watch, I wait.

I long to see streams of water

Flowing down soft, rolling hills.

Perhaps I shall be productive again

When the long, long winter is past1

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Sometimes I feel like a lone tree facing the howling winds of criticism and self-doubt, not always sure I can stand firm. For you, this winter may bring the painful gusts of grief. You will enter the season without someone you have loved, and your temptation is to give in to self-pity and depresion.

It’s at times like these that the Scriptures can bring indescribable comfort and wisdom.

Psalm 1 says: “Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers. But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on His law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers” (vv. 1-3).

If the cold winds are blowing in your life and you feel like a lone tree, God has a plan for your success. The plan is constant meditation on His Word. That may seem a little ethereal, but it’s simple, really. You make a choice to read, believe, live, and breathe God’s Word. Instead of concentrating on the criticism or self-doubt, take the time to go to the Word of God and look for His perspective. Then when the icy blast of self-pity and depression overtakes you, not only will you be able to stand, but you will actually prosper and bear fruit.

There have been times when I have felt like the last tree on the hill, being buffeted by the strongest wind that could blow. Yet these solitary times have proved to be the times of greatest growth as I have been forced to search for God’s perspective.

Amy Carmichael, a favorite writer of mine, was a lone tree on a windy hilltop for twenty years. These are her words:

Before the winds that blow do cease

Teach me to dwell within Thy calm;

Before the pain has passed in peace,

Give me, my God, to sing a psalm.

Let me not lose the chance to prove

The fullness of enabling love.

O love of God, do this for me;

Maintain a constant victory.2

My friend, we are all lone trees, whether battling the elements on the mountaintop or in a great forest. But God says we don’t have to be uprooted or destroyed in these chilly cold days of winter. We can bring forth fruit in due season if we plant our faith deep in Him.

 From The 5-Minute Devotional, Zondervan, c. 1991 by Jan Silvious.

1. Ruth Harms Calkin, Lord, Don’t You Love Me Anymore? Tyndale, 1986.

 2. Amy Carmichael, Edges of His Ways, Christian Literature Crusade, 1955.

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