Apologetics: ə-pŏl'ə-jĕt'ĭks from the Greek απоλоγία Def: The branch of theology that is concerned with defending or proving the truth of Christian doctrines.

Facing The Winter Seasons of Life . . .

Written By Esthermay Bentley-Goossen on 06 January 2009

". . . Moving to Disney world is not an option. There will be tribulation; Jesus said so. But be of good cheer: He’s still in the business of guiding and strengthening and healing and overcoming. . .”
~ When the Glass Slipper Doesn’t Fit
by Claire Cloninger & Karla Worley

Tucked away in a quiet corner of Scripture -- often overlooked -- is a verse that brims with meaning and emotion. Reflect on these ancient words from the pen of Job:

“From the city men groan; And the souls of the wounded cry out”
~ Job 24:12

Slip into the landscape of this verse for just a moment: Beneath the loud splash of commotion and bustle in our homes and neighborhoods, behind the flurry of display and showi'ness in our churches and communities and cities, there are invisible, wounded, broken hearts --- souls aching from shattered relationships, illness, death, financial despair, crushed hopes, unforeseen disaster, hidden sins, shame, the list goes on and on. Job calls them groans.

In Hebrew, the word suggests that this groan comes from one who has been wounded. Perhaps this is why Job uses this very meaning in his poetic line: The souls of the wounded cry out. In this line, “wounded” comes from a term meaning pierced -- as if stabbed.

But . . . it is the soul (not the physical body) that is crying out! . . . because the deep hidden lacerations of the heart can be -- and are -- far more painful than a physical stabbing. Does this describe you today? Someone you know?

And why is this 'crying out' so often likened to a 'winter season' in one's life. Why is that?

Winter is more that just a season of the year . . . Here in Minnesota, it is a way of life for many (many!) months. And we do not escape to Disney World!

Hardly! Here's what we do: We wear turtlenecks and scratchy wool sweaters and coats and hats and mittens (and boots and scarfs and hand warmers and earmuffs and long thermal underwear and sometimes spikes on the bottom of our boots), and we make industry of our climatic condition: Snowmobiling, skiing, ice-skating, hockey, dog-sledding. The more foolish and irrational among us chose to support the Minnesota Vikings. Who knows why -- really. The cold air does something to our rational thinking processes.

For the most part, Minnesotans love winter! And if I've learned anything in North Country it is this: We cherish the Summer months because we know that Winter is inevitable.

In very much the same way . . . Jesus told us that we would inevitably face tribulation:

". . . In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world."
~ John 16:33

Winter most definitely speaks of barrenness: Icy shadows. Naked branches. Short days. Long nights. It is an ideal time to slow down in quiet reverence and remember that

“God is in the heavens; He does whatever He pleases.”
~ Psalm 115:3

If you've been a Christian for very long you know that our lives here on earth are indeed God’s agenda. Not our own. If you are a mature Christian, you know that our plans and designs are actually laughable in God's grand plan for us and for His Kingdom.

Look at your own life today. Were there any designs ten years ago for the current state of things in your home and family? Be honest. Who in their proper mind would ever predict how life will turn?

But is God still working in your life? Can you look back and see His guiding hand throughout those last ten years?

If we're walking in fellowship with Him, His blessings and His agenda become more evident with every step we take -- despite what "season" we happen to be in at the moment. When the despair of a winter season has past, we are always wiser, stronger, and deeper in love with Jesus. Because He is most assuredly "still in the business of guiding and strengthening and healing and overcoming. . .”

Every Christian reading this post stands at a crossroads as this New Year - 2009 - begins to unfold. We can look backward or we can look forward. The backward glimpse is often devastating. It hurts. For many of us, unexpected circumstances and Satan's handiwork to injure and impair occupied and dominated a great part of 2008.

The good news is that God’s Word holds answers. The Word of God brings light and understanding to the perplexities and heartaches of life. BUT. . . the only way to discover these precious Scriptural principles to direct and sustain us in the winter seasons of life it to actually open our Bibles and read from it!

Oh! how sad it is to see Christians whose knowledge of God's Word is so obviously lacking. There is only ONE thing that will guide us through tribulations of this life -- the groanings that we will inevitable experience. It is God's Word!

Is it winter right now in this season of your life? Are you weighed down with feelings of confusion, depression, and loneliness? Do you feel forsaken, spiritually on hold, barren, cold?

There is absolutely no questioning it – our lives here on earth will always include winter. But, beyond the thick gray clouds of winter…is God! His agenda is miraculously greater than ours. And some days His Light just makes everything beautiful and shiny! Let HIS WORD be a blessing and a source of comfort to you in 2009!

Heartlight's Daily Bible Reading Plans http://www.heartlight.org/devotionals/reading_plans/

Bible Gateway's Reading Plans

BiblePlan's Reading Plans

~ Esthermay Bentley-Goossen
©2009 The Heart of a Pastor's Wife

This installment of InOtherWords is hosted by Bonnie at Ink It Blog.
And. . . Yea! That's my front yard in the photo!


Solace said...

A wonderful post, Esthermay. Timely for me but I'm sure for many others as well. Your heart for your readers to know God's Word and His heart are so evident. Thank you. You are a blessing! That one link has every possible language you could ever need to study the Bible. Amazing.
Happy New Year!

sara said...

welcome back! I loved reading this today and the analogy of earthy winter was perfect. You are such a beautiful writer Eshermay, and your blog blesses me each time!

God's Word is the only thing that sustains us during those times. Like the disciples trying to bail water out of the boat, we try and try to fix things ourselves when we just need to go to our Savior!!

Karen said...

We need to learn to dress for the season because like it or not they will come. We can fight it or learn to drive properly in it with Jesus at the wheel. Thanks for sharing today it was great.

Barbara said...

Beautiful photo of your yard. We don't see ice like that on the trees here in MO too often. Very beautiful.
And a beautiful and fitting devotion for the new year.

Patricia said...

This is a wonderful post. I have the printer running...it's going on the refrigerator.

Our winter in West Virginia is no Minnesota winter. Ours is mostly chilly and wet and squishy with mud...but it's a bone-chilling cold and the mud just tracks everywhere -- sort of like those seasons of testing, it gets into the very depths of your soul and leaves evidence of its presence all over your life.

Winter is so hard for a Southern girl, even living in the "upper south." The only way I've ever been able to face it is through curling up with a blanket, hot tea, and my Bible.

And this season, as one of my dear ones is struggling...it is an especially dreary winter. The only way to face the conflicts and challenges is to turn to the One who has our lives in His strong hands.

Thank you for sharing your beautiful words of encouragement!

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for sharing. It was so beautifully and heart touchingly written.

Kate said...

I love your blog because there is so much room for reflection and prayer after reading.
My parents and I always disagree as to whether God allows us to go through hardships (winter) or permits is or does it to test us.
I like what you say about MATURE Christians. I don't think it really matters does it? If we are with Christ, the circumstances don't matter. I missed you over the holidays and had my mom readng some of your stuff.
Love ya!

Anonymous said...

We've had a long winter here and the most snow I can remember in a long time. It was very neat to read this with all we have gone through in the last couple of weeks. Thank you for sharing! :)

Laurie Ann said...

I'm so glad you're back! Very well written post, Esthermay. I have had winter in my heart before, but I tell you, it's blooming right now. It always does when I stay in the Word! You're such a blessing...thank you so much for this post! I can't wait to re-read it and soak it in again.

Anonymous said...

I am so glad you are back to blogging! :)

It's funny viewing this from a northerner's perspective versus a southerner's. See, we long for winter, because before we know it it will be 100 degrees and humid again for months... and months... and months... :)

I have found in my own life sometimes it can be beneficial to look back, reexamine the mistakes, the hurts, the disasters, and trace the pattern of the goodness and sovereignty of God through each step - which I often couldn't see at the time. It gives me great hope to know that He will do again in the future what He's done in the past.

Great post and a great challenge to get in the Word more for 2009!

Anonymous said...

This post is very encouraging to me, thank you for writing! You are so good with words!

kalopoieo said...

Am I the only one who detected the humor and sarcasm in the reference to Viking's Fans?
Other that this, you've created another excellent article.
he he he!
Well written.

Bonnie W said...

Esthermay, I remember the long snowy dark winters of northern NY when it gets so cold the snow squeaks when you walk on it
LOL! And am so thankful to be in PA now.

There will always be winter but thankfully we can wrap ourselves securely in Him and get through it.

Thank you so much for sharing today.

Susan said...

Oh Esthermay!

What a gifted writer you are. Thanks for this awesome post, so full of truth.

I love your take on this quote.

Blessings to you and your family this new year!

PS I'll be printing this out and passing it out as well.

Betsy Markman said...

Yes, I've heard that in MN there are two seasons: Winter and the 4th of July. (I lived in Iowa for 4-1/2 years, so I can sort-of relate. Of course Iowa summers...well, don't get me started.)

Sometimes our lives feel like that, too. Winter and the 4th of July. I know much of my life sure has. And before I had the Lord, it just didn't seem like life was worth living.

He makes all the difference, doesn't he?

john burreson said...

Kalopoieo must be a guy. You, Kalopoieo and I may be the only ones here who follow NFL Playoffs. I picked up on the subtle jab at Vikings fans immediateley. Very good! Yes - I am NYJets fan. 'Nuf said.
Wonderful reflective reading here. You bring to life the vital need for personal Bible study. When Christians forsake this for all thier programs, they've lost their purpose and the programs cease to serve any purpose in God's Kingdom at all. What has become of Wednesday night Bible Study? Have churches forgotten Who we serve?
Good writing.

MiPa said...

Choosing to look forward in 2009. Bless you for a beautiful reflection!

Kathy S. said...

Beautifully written! Thanks for such an encouraging post.

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