It’s winter here now. A few days ago it snowed—a lot. Then the winds came. The sky cleared and the temperature dropped. And still the wind blows. A lot.
At this latitude, the sun gets over the mountains just before ten o’clock in the morning and disappears by 4:00. It’s dark a lot at this time of year.
Winter is hard. Yesterday I went grocery shopping. When I finally found a parking spot in the dark (at 4:30) and beat the wind into the store, there were no carts. I stood beside a mother with a toddler on her hip and looked at three carts chained and padlocked to a steel bar. You can only shake your head.
I trudged around the parking lot until I found a cart shed with some buggies in it and heaved two of them through the snow and ice into the store with me. Another mom, with one child on her hip and another at her knee, sagged with relief when I offered her my extra cart. I saw a car accident happen on my way home.
Once home again, I fought to bring my boxes of groceries in against a vicious wind that threatened to rip the front door off every time I opened it. Going back for another box, I fell on the ice and bruised a knee. Admittedly, I have a bleak view of winter. I don’t enjoy winter sports and though cozying up by the fire with a hot chocolate and a good book is a wonderful vision, it’s never the only thing you have to do.
A good friend of mine has cancer. A neighbour just lost his job. Someone I love is pregnant and feels sick all the time. Another is struggling with being physically able to do her job well. There is no money for health care and an older couple I know is feeling desperate. My mom is in hospital.
In life, stuff happens; stuff we don’t want to have happen. It’s like winter comes, it won’t leave, and there is no summer in sight. We cry out, “God, why is this happening to me?” Or, sometimes, “God, why are you doing this to me?”
Jesus said, “I have told you all this (what’s going to happen) so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart (and cheer up), because I have overcome the world.”
You mean it isn’t God who is doing this to me? Then who is?
In a metaphor using himself as a shepherd, us as sheep (the resemblance is not lost on me), and the force of evil (Satan) as a thief, Jesus says, “The thief's purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them (us, the sheep) a rich and satisfying life.”
For years, Jesus’ comment to take heart because he had overcome the world perplexed me. What about my problem that won’t seem to go away? What about when life is anything but rich and satisfying, when it’s actually poor and unsatisfying, or downright awful?
What exactly am I to do?
In another scripture, Jesus said this: “Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled; do not be afraid.”
It brings me to this question: How much of what we suffer is simply fear? When things don’t work out like I want them to, I have a choice. I can move into fear, or I can move into Jesus’ peace. When I trust that his goal for me is a rich and satisfying life and that he’s working against the force of evil that wants to take that away, I can have peace—his kind of peace.
I have learned that the more I believe in God’s plans to give me a rich and satisfying life, the more it happens that way. Things will still come along because we live in a world where evil also dwells, yet we can live in peace in the midst of it.
In the midst of winter there is a warm, safe place to be. At the same time, I can know that summer isn’t far away. Through whatever comes along, I can take heart and cheer up because the overcomer is on my side working always to make my life rich and satisfying.
Is this easy? Sometimes; sometimes not. Still, when I see that my only two choices are fear or peace, and I get to choose, I’ll take peace.
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