“See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.”
– Isaiah 43:19 (NIV)
It was almost a record-breaking day…in terms of the weather at least. 74 balmy degrees in the middle of a cold, wet, dreary winter in central Pennsylvania. Standing in my driveway soaking up the sun, the thought crossed my mind that if we didn’t know winter, we wouldn’t hope for spring.
Spring is the epitome of new growth. A time when everything lifeless miraculously comes to life. I’m not just talking about vegetation. Spring is that time of the year when mornings are filled with the melodious songs of a robin, neighbors emerge from hibernation, and windows are opened to allow in a breath of fresh air.
Although I’ve experienced some winters that seemed to last forever, never once did I doubt that spring would eventually make its grand appearance. That’s because I know that what lies dormant in the winter never fails to burst forth with new life in the spring.
Have you ever stopped to consider the benefits of winter? Trees grow stronger as they resist being blown over by blustery winds. The ground receives much-needed hydration from the crystalline flakes which fall from the sky. And there is a physiological process at work during the winter months called vernalization. What this scientific word means is that some species of plants require a substantial period of freezing temperatures in order to flourish in the spring.
The same cycle occurs in our own lives. God uses the cold, harsh elements of life (waiting, loss, disappointment, fear, rejection, you name it!) to strengthen our roots and produce in us new growth. As difficult as it is, the barren days of suffering are necessary to achieve fruitfulness in our walk with the Lord.
If you don’t believe me, let me tell you a true story about a friend of mine. Through a tragic turn of events, Ruth became a widow at a young age. Not only was Ruth husbandless, but she was also childless and had no means of supporting herself.
Through circumstances beyond her control, Ruth found herself smack-dab in the middle of a wintery season of life. It was in this season that Ruth realized she had a choice to make. She could either fight God or partner with Him.
All along, God was working in Ruth’s life. He was doing a new thing. And because Ruth chose to take refuge in the true and living God, He breathed new life into an otherwise bleak situation.
Ruth’s story is documented in the Bible as a testament to God’s faithfulness. The One who controls all seasons created a new season in Ruth’s life. Not only did God provide a loving and compassionate husband for Ruth, but He also blessed Ruth with a baby boy. Yes! Ruth gave birth to a son named Obed, the grandfather of King David and more significantly, an ancestor of Jesus Christ— the Redeemer of the world!
I love the words used in Ruth 4:15 to describe God: “a restorer of life” and “a nourisher” (ESV). As the nourisher of all creation, God specializes in working on the uncultivated and lifeless areas of our lives. He is the way-maker. His word tells us that He is making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland (Isaiah 43:19, NIV).
Ruth’s suffering had a far greater purpose than she could have ever imagined. If Ruth would have decided not to partner with the Creator of all seasons (even the wintery ones), she would have missed out on some really amazing things. Not to mention, her role in the lineage of Christ.
Ruth’s story is a reminder that God doesn’t bring us through the harsh winter months to harm us. He does it because He loves us and wants to transform the lifeless areas within us into something vibrant and new.
While we wait for the season of spring to take root in our own hearts, let’s hold on to the truth that winter does not last forever. If we will take refuge in the “restorer of life,” He will do a new work within us, one that exceeds anything we could ever dream or accomplish for ourselves.