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Out Our Way: After the Snows - 2 Thess. 1:3-5

 

August 23, 2019



Out our way, the winters can be harsh. Charlie Russell’s “Waiting for a Chinook” is a classic portrayal of that part of Montana life we all know. I can recall Alberta Clippers that dropped tons of snow and temperatures dropping to minus-40 degrees or more. But then comes a chinook, and the snow melts and a mini-spring in February reminds us winter isn’t forever. And then comes the real spring and the winter snows water the pastures and the creeks and water holes. Charlie and I would ride out onto the Tiger Ridge and observe the lush grass, wild flowers. In the farmlands, we see the growth of crops in the fields. And we remember that the snows of winter were necessary for the blessings of spring, summer and fall.

There have been some hard winters up on the Hi-Line. Tons of snow, icy cold — and who can forget that huge storm in October a few years back that knocked the power out for the area. In some places it took up to 3 days or more before the electricity came back on. But who can forget the lush pastures and fields — not to mention the lilacs and flowers — in the fields that May? We who have lived through the cycle of seasons on the Hi-Line can tolerate the harsh winters because we know the payoff that will follow.

Obviously, life has seasons as well and “the winter of our discontent” comes upon us all. But perhaps we need to consider that “the perseverance and faith” required to get through those times are necessary for the growth and blossoming of a richer life.

The early Church faced many such hard times. All of the disciples were persecuted, imprisoned, tortured, and, with the exception of John, eventually executed for the faith. Thousands of others faced the same fate — and many still do, even to this day. Hitler, Stalin and Mao all persecuted believers and today in the Middle East and Africa, Christians are regularly persecuted, imprisoned and beheaded for their faith. Yet, if history is history continues to repeat itself, the end result is a stronger faith and the triumph of the Kingdom of God. As an early Christian writer observed “The blood of martyrs is the seed of faith.” [Tertullian]

Now, as that is true for the Church as a whole, it is also true on a smaller scale for individuals. The abuse and such we face for the faith will only make us stronger in the end. And if that is true when we are faced with the disdain, ridicule, and abuse of unbelievers in the world — and, sadly, sometimes in the Church — it is also true regarding the hardships and trials we face that seemingly have nothing to do with religion. For we have an enemy who is the source of all these trials. The “prince of this world” [John 12: 31] will be driven out in time, but until then he reigns over the darkness that those who hate God call light.

We were not created for death and destruction, but welcomed it in the name of “enlightenment” [Genesis 3] There are natural disasters to be sure, but far more are created by sinful human beings who serve themselves and thus the Enemy instead of God and thus their neighbor. Yet, somehow, the believers persevere and Christ triumphs. History shows it has always been this, and — like the seasons of the year — the power of darkness — like the winter — lasts a season and then is gone. God allows this cycle, I think, because the “winter” of our lives is the time when perseverance, courage and hope are tested and strengthened in those who remember that spring is coming.

Sitting in the darkness while the Enemy’s “Alberta Clipper” howls and chills the soul, we read the Gospels as we read a calendar and know the time “after the snows” is already on the way.

Blessings!

Brother John

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John Bruington can be contacted at [email protected]

 

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