Monday, December 21, 2015

A Season of Hope

(*This post was inspired by my response to an email I received from someone who is undergoing a dark period in life.)

Contrary to being merry, Christmas season is generally a gloomy time of the year.  Meteorological and emotional factors seem to connive in posing impediments to more joyful days. Short days, lack of sunshine, cold weather, the pressures from traditions, people’s expectations, keeping up appearances and thoughts of happier days in the past make us feel defeated sometimes.  It is at this time when people long for things that are not and ignore the things that are. Then the world seem to shrink and you feel squeezed by the current situation.  It is during this times when people resort drastic measures not as way out but an ultimate expression of hopelessness - as if the world ends today.  And yet there is a bigger world outside which is not the same as the tight world you are in at the moment.  There is a way to that place but right now the door is closed.  The question is will you be prepared to get out when that door opens again?   

Christmas is a season and it coincides with winter.  Christmas is like a spark of hope in the midst of darkness.  Like the trees that have enjoyed a period of splendor - will at some point exhaust all their glorious foliage to prepare for dormancy, we need to take the time to slow down.  It is the season to rest.  As a gardener, this is season when we look at the bare essentials of the garden.  When all the garden clutter is gone it is easy to see what needs to be pruned, culled or maintained.  It is also the time to condition the soil and eradicate overwintering pests and their breeding grounds.  Soon spring and summer will be here again when plants begin to bud and bloom again.  Plants will grow because the season for growth will have come. But the new life will depend on how much preparation was done during the rest period.  Will they have a healthy growing season or will they be stunted and deficient?  Will they be weak and susceptible to pests or will they be able to withstand stresses that come along?  Just because growth is not visible during dormancy does not mean that growth is not happening.  Soon when the sun warms the soil, there will be no stopping for growth again. 

God sent Jesus Christ when the world exhausted its all to reinstate its broken relationship with its Maker and failed.  Christmas marked the rest period for mankind. It is the time of peace.  The way out has been opened.  Time to stop trying to find other means to get to what mankind was made to long for - God.  The problem remains to be the wrong focus of our hearts.  And we still keep on doing things. We seem to be stuck on the seasonal rather than the permanent elements of life.  And because we do not allow our hearts to rest, we do not have the time to prepare our hearts for a more robust and abundant spring.  Christmas is not the end but it is the manifestation hope.   Easter is yet to come when God's mercy is manifested in eternal measures. 

Don't get carried away by the temporary concerns of this world but focus on God who is permanent and His undying love.  He set the seasons in place as He brings forth the rain and sunshine at the appointed time.  I was told that Wisconsin is a place that have very definite four seasons.  Unlike California, especially the areas close to the Bay, where the weather varies very slightly from season to season, you can almost wear the same wardrobe for the whole year.  Wisconsin folks learn to enjoy life during the different seasons.  Last spring when I went to help Shannon find an apartment there, we met many people who, strangers as they were to us, made sure they told us about the coming May 24th when the renowned Farmer's Market opens and all outdoor pools will open again.  And when they talked about it there is this anticipation on their faces.  In the midst of the cold they can look forward to the time when they can take away their heavy coats and enjoy the warmth of the sun on their backs again.  Seasons are changing and if we are careful we will see that each season has a good purpose in this life.

Easter is yet to come when God's mercy is 
manifested in eternal measures. 

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