Written By Kelly Hill, USA
When I was a kid, winter was my favorite season. I loved snow sports, the movie Balto, and fluffy sweaters. In early adulthood, I continued to say my favorite season was winter—partially because it was the answer I was used to giving to the inevitable ice-breaker question, but also because I felt like it sounded tough and maybe a little edgy. I still love winter, but as I’ve seen a bit more of life throughout my twenties, my loyalty has shifted. I’m ready to confess: I love spring. And these days, I need spring.
As the coronavirus has spread across the world, many are experiencing pain, grief, and fear. I, too, have felt fearful and anxious as I’ve approached what seems like an uncertain future. I’ve worried about loved ones who have lost jobs, work on the frontlines of the healthcare system, or are vulnerable to illness. I’ve worried about whether I could do my job well from home. Sometimes, alone in my apartment, I’ve felt that I’m losing my community, my family, and my friends.
But as this darkness has drawn close, I’ve seen another change come over the world around me. Where I live, it’s springtime. After what seemed like a long and dark winter, I’ve reveled in finally feeling the sun’s warmth again. I’ve savored the rich abundance of flowers bursting from trees and buried bulbs. Their sweet smell and their vibrant color. The first green shoots of grass and the verdant leaves unfurling. What an exuberant celebration of new life! What a reminder, especially this year, that death has been defeated—that victory has already been won over sickness and pain. That the hope of spring is coming and nothing can hold it back.
The Bible is full of spring. It is full of planting in the confident promise of harvest and new life. Hosea 10:12 tells us to “Sow righteousness for yourselves, reap the fruit of unfailing love, and break up your unplowed ground; for it is time to seek the Lord, until he comes and showers his righteousness on you.”
I stumbled upon this verse last July, shortly after moving across the United States to start a new job. As I settled into my new home, I felt discouraged. I had lost my sense of connection and community. I felt alone. But these words from Hosea entered into my discouragement.
I was in a season of newness and growth, much like spring. And spring, for all its beauty, can be hard work. Digging up our unplowed ground and allowing God access to break up hardened areas in our hearts is painful. It requires seeking and leaning into the plow—the work God wants to do in our lives. But in allowing God to labor in our hearts, we will reap the fruit of His love and righteousness.
For me, the hard work looked like opening my heart to new circumstances and people. It looked like humility in my workplace as I approached each day as a learning opportunity. The hardest work, however, was leaning into God’s truth. Believing God was walking with me. That what was most required was a simple trust that God is good in every season.
Months later, I see the fruit of that labor. I see new friendships and a deeper trust in God’s unchanging goodness. I see that I am part of a new community which is facing the enormous challenge of coronavirus together. And in the midst of that challenge, God has brought me back to what I learned from Hosea.
Once again, I am asked to open myself to new circumstances and new ways of being in community. I am asked to be humble in my work. I am asked to trust that God is good and my journey does not end in discouragement. I am asked to open myself to growth.
In this season, I’ve discovered more verses about spring. Isaiah 35:1-2 says, “The desert and the parched land shall be glad; the wilderness will rejoice and blossom. Like the crocus, it will burst into bloom; it will rejoice greatly and shout for joy.” Song of Songs 2:11-12 reads, “See! The winter is past; the rains are over and gone. Flowers appear on the earth; the season of singing has come, the cooing of doves is heard in our land.”
This season we are in feels an awful lot like the wilderness. It feels like last July when I said goodbye to a community I loved and felt lost in the midst of change. But that wasn’t the end of my story. God was bringing a season of growth into my life which, even now, is bearing fruit in the form of friendships and confidence in God’s love for me.
These verses are a promise! The flowers will blossom. Rejoicing will come. We will be filled again with joy and singing. Winter will pass. New life will come.
As Christians, we can trust that pain, darkness, and loss are not the end. Even in the darkest hour of death, no power could hold back the healing that was promised to us in the resurrection of Jesus Christ. No fear or darkness could keep Jesus from rising, and no hand can reach out and stop the coming of the spring.
Even now, God’s eternal promises of new creation and new life stand true. I don’t know about you, but I feel more ready than ever to trust in the coming of spring and in the goodness of the One who helps us grow.