By Crystal Young
Wonders of winter
Much of South Africa transitions into a winter wonder land from as early as June. Winter is a time when the trees which once strutted an explosion of colour in their leaves turn bare and brittle. Flowers become droopy as they hang their heads to slumber one last time. A state of dormancy has commenced. However, something quite spectacular, silently takes place. Roots begin to stretch their long slender fingers deeper within the earth – preparing for growth that will take place in the Spring. (Strong, courageous character is essential for withstanding the storms which rage during the season of growth.)
The seasons of nature are often reflected in the seasons of our spiritual life. Therefore, a spiritual winter is a natural cycle. These periods are called desert times and can be accompanied by feelings of abandonment and despair.
According to Strongs Hebrew and Greek Dictionary the word “chazaq” is a primitive root that means: to fasten upon; hence to seize, be strong (figuratively courageous). This old Hebrew word is used more than 300 times in the bible. It is a uniquely strong and powerful descriptor of ‘courage’. God is our source of “chazaq”.
Our heavenly Father is in the chaos and storms of life, graciously giving each seeker, the courage, strength, endurance, perseverance, and fortitude needed for every season.
Examples of “chazaq” in scripture:
- 1 Chronicles 19:13 Be of good courage, and let us behave ourselves valiantly for our people, and for the cities of our God: and let the LORD do that which is good in his sight.
- Psalms 27:14 Wait on the LORD: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the LORD.
- Psalms 31:24 Be of good courage, and he shall strengthen your heart, all ye that hope in the LORD.
Joyous June, what a statement! Joy in the middle of winter? My sentiments exactly. I am no stranger to experiencing seasons of dormancy, in fact I can feel a serene awakening in my soul this very moment, my Spring is a step closer.
Preparing for growth is a painful process. When I think of roots extending their arms and grasping hands full of soil to once more anchor themselves steadfast within the belly of creation, my mind’s eye wonders to a place where I have seen myself hanging helplessly against a ledge grabbing onto anything tangible, my nails scraping along the ragged edges – holding on for dear life. Does this sound familiar?
The growth phase is painful because we are exposed to elements of the earth, the scorching sun, the blazing wind and solitude of the night. We often feel abandoned and neglected to navigate our way through the darkness. This is what one would call a ‘perfect storm.’
My definition of courage, ‘is to stand on my feet, wobbly, knock-knees and all, choosing to look past every fear and locking my eyes onto Jesus as I begin to tread on water. My weakness is made perfect in Gods power!
2 Corinthians 12:9 NIV
“But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.”
Joy comes in the mourning
Pun intended! There is a great deal of reasons why one would mourn, this expression of grief and severe loss is essential to our spiritual journey of the soul. In essence we cannot grow, if we do not let go. The wilderness prepares our heart, while the winter season motivates each believer to dig deeper into the Word than ever before enduring each hardship with courage and strength – chazaq! The desert was not meant to be a place for us to die, but to be reborn. May we take joy in knowing that spring is but a step away.
Psalm 30:5 NKJV
“For His anger is but for a moment, His favour is for life; Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning.”