It was Groundhog Day, six years ago, when she died. A woman of 35, the same age that I am right now. As we drove the 14 hours that it was to her funeral, over wind-whipped plains, I thought about midwinter. The white drifts that seemed to go on forever. The hard, encrusted snow. The bitter cold.
And in her life, the illness. The grief. Her trials and tragedies, and her past, which had never released her.
Through my tears, I remembered her husband: the man now left a widower. And the irony of that movie, “Groundhog Day.” Of all the days to relive endlessly, ruthlessly – is that what would now happen to him, in his mind?
I don’t know this kind of grief. But I have had winters. Proverbs 13:12 says that “hope deferred makes the heart sick.” “Hope deferred?” Oh yes. “Heart sick?” The weak, fluttery feeling in your chest; the weight in your stomach; the heaviness that follows you, slowing your every move and thought…yes.
“Each heart knows its own bitterness, and no one else can share its joy.” Proverbs 14:10
Groundhog Day may seem like a silly tradition to some. To me, it makes sense. At this lowest, deepest point of cold on the calendar, we’ll cling to any shred of hope that winter will not last forever. “Early spring,” “6 more weeks of winter” – either one is a blessed reminder: Spring is coming! Hallelujah! Just hang on, a little longer!
And as for our emotional winters? One scripture that has encouraged me is a prophetic word, given to an ancient people that lived in biblical times. However, as prophetic words often go, its core truth is applicable across culture, time, and space:
“An oracle concerning Dumah: Someone calls to me from Seir, ‘Watchman, what is left of the night? Watchman, what is left of the night?’
The watchman replies, ‘Morning is coming, but also the night. If you would ask, then ask; and come back yet again.'” Isaiah 21:11-12
God created a world where suffering was possible, and He doesn’t stop all of it. He brings all things together for good (Romans 8:28), and there is purpose in what He allows to happen. But He made the night, as well as the day. The winter, as well as the summer.
“As long as the earth endures, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night will never cease.” Genesis 8:22
Yet He reminds us, through the coldest days of winter, and the darkest hours of night: “Morning will come. Inquire again later – don’t stop asking.”
In the meantime, we may need to fast – from having our hopes realized, or our pains taken away. When we fast from food, each pain of hunger is a reminder to pray. So it is when we suffer. Let the pain incite you to pray. In your weakness, press in to God, that He may strengthen you. Do not forget, that He cares for you. And the morning will come. The snow will melt; spring will arrive. It may take longer than we like, but the winter will not last forever.
Jesus, have mercy on us in our seasons of suffering. Be near, comfort us, limit our pains and times of trial. Help us, Lord, to not lose hope. You said the morning will come. May we have the strength to wait patiently for it!
“The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” Psalm 34:18