For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.
~ Romans 8.22-25
Winter is over. It should feel like Spring, like light and warmth and long, lazy days will soon be here.
But it doesn’t.
A glance from the window this morning made me think it had begun to snow but it was just the first of the blossoms beginning to shake loose from their windswept branches. Gardens are in bloom everywhere, ripe with tulips, helibores, and clematis and yet they feel so out of season, out of sync with reality. Even my kumquat tree and her little seedling are stretching out, unfurling fresh new foliage towards the light.
You can be sad when Summer comes. It’s harder to admit though. Everyone else seems so caught up in the lighter nights and plans for holidays to exciting new places. Outside birds are nesting and temperatures gradually climbing, but inside your heart still huddles against the Winter winds.
Take heart, tired soul. Come to the Psalms with me.
A Cry In The Night
I don’t know how you see the Psalms. They’re not the most comfortable part of the Bible to read. Poetry has always had the innate ability to stir people in ways that prose rarely can.
A significant chunk of the Psalms come from the aches of the soul, crying out for God to hurry to their help, or exhorting the believer to do the same. Read Psalm 88, you are not alone in your sorrow.
The Bible tells us to be joyful in the Lord but it doesn’t airbrush over the reality of living in a fallen world. Paul’s letter to the Philippians should be enough to convince you that Scripture neither promises nor assumes that everything will be ok all the time.
Ecclesiastes affirms that just as there is a time to laugh, so also is there a time in which to cry. There is a time for mourning, just as there is a time for dancing (Ecclesiastes 3).
Thou shalt always smile and be bubbly with happiness never made it to the Ten Commandments.
God does not deny that there are hard and painful times. He walked through them himself. He was angry (Matthew 21.12; Mark 3.5), his heart was troubled (Matthew 26.37; John 12.27), and he was full of sorrow (Matthew 26.38; John 11.35). Omniscience is such a formal, unfeeling word but this is the truth of it: God knows, he gets it.
No matter what lies at the root of your soul’s Winter, you can find the first step to a new hope in the example of the Psalmist – cry out for help to the God who promised to take care of his people. Hold him to his word.
Wait for the Lord; be strong and let your heart take courage;
Wait for the Lord! ~ Psalm 27.14
Hope In God, O My Soul
There is something incredibly beautiful about Psalms 42 and 43. Perhaps it is the honesty, an honesty we are often too embarrassed or ashamed to show, even among our church family.
My tears have been my food day and night,
While they say to me all the day long.
“Where is your God?” ~Psalm 42.3
Sometimes our hearts join in with the voices outside.
Yes, where is my God? Where are you in all of this?
My soul is cast down within me…
You need to keep calling on him, even if you just want to let go and walk away. Even when heaven seems closed and bolted against you.
Why are you cast down, O my soul,
and why are you in turmoil within me?
Hope in God, for I shall again praise him,
my salvation and my God. ~ Psalm 42.5,11; 43.5
We all need to remind ourselves of this sometimes. I might not be praising him right now, but hope in him my soul because you will praise him again. He is not just a god, he is my God and he is my salvation.
So hope in him, hold on my heart, you once were full and sang of grace, hold on. This too shall pass and you will praise him again.
The Lifter Up Of Heads
Sometimes you find yourself clinging on by your fingernails, so exhausted that it is almost pure instinct that keeps you from letting go. And as your strength fails and you reach that shattering point of can’t, the light dawns.
Why were you ever scared? Were you so very numb that you could not feel the everlasting arms beneath you?
Many are saying of my soul,
“There is no salvation for him in God.” ~ Psalm 3.2
The weight of our struggles, sorrows, our pain, can crush us and wear us down until we can no longer even raise our eyes anymore and the world around us taunts us for the prayers which seem to go unanswered.
Outside the trees are beginning to breathe again, clothing themselves in the most beautiful fresh greens and whites. The cherry trees are crowned in powder pink and the tulips remain a technicolour testament to the doctrines of grace.
Your soul, like mine, may still feel steeped in Winter. Your heart may be slow to rejoice in the grace it knows to be full and free. You may feel like the world has grown suddenly heavy and wrapped itself around your shoulders so that all you can do is shuffle along, eyes downcast.
I have news for you. Spring will come and with it the light and life you once knew.
Cry out to God who answers from his holy hill (Psalm 3.4).
Remind your tired soul that you will again praise him (Psalm 42.5, 11; 43.5)
God is a shield about you, your glory, the lifter up of your head (Psalm 3.3).
Don’t be cast down, dear soul. Hope in God, you will yet praise him, your salvation and your God.