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I never understood the song “In the Bleak Midwinter” as a native Houstonian until I lived in west Tennessee where we actually had seasonal changes and everything during winter was cold, bare, dark, and bleak. We often stayed inside, and everything outside looked dead. No evergreen trees to keep things colorful, and all hint of color that had just encompassed the area when the trees turned beautiful shades of yellows and reds before their leaves fell was all gone. But as time passed, the weather would slightly start to warm up day by day. And one day the buds of fresh new life and beautiful leaves and flowers appeared. Flowers were everywhere and once again everything was colorful and bright. All the bleakness of a short time ago became a distant memory.

There are seasons to life as well. This month of February in the middle of winter we celebrate Valentine’s Day. People often think of love and friendship during the month of February. But if you are in a wintery season of life, it may be hard to think of such things. When life seems bleak for days on end, we wonder if the spring will ever come. Whether it be hardship through sickness, a time of loneliness and transition, financial setbacks, relationships that have caused great stress or marital strain, many things can bring us to a winter in our life.

One such “wintery” time in my life was when life was hard, so very, very hard and in a way that I had never experienced before. It was the kind of hard when you don’t even have the basic necessities to just get up and live life. For the first time, I echoed a prayer that I know David prayed in Psalms many times: “God? Do you hear me? Are you even listening? I’m desperate God.” It was at that moment that my phone rang. A sweet older lady from church was calling to check on me and wanting to meet a need that I had. God was listening. He did hear my cries. He always had and He always will. And He will meet our needs, not always on our time but right on time. During this time, my kids were still babies, and I was literally scooping out the last scoop of formula that I had when she called me.

My husband and I found ourselves in a somewhat treacherous situation a few weeks ago as we were snowmobiling in frigid subzero weather in Montana. Both of our snowmobiles were stuck in several feet of snow. With no cell phone service and only GPS trackers (that I believe are only to be able to find your body and collect your snowmobile if you don’t return), we had no way to get help. We were nearly 10,000 feet up the side of a mountain in the middle of nowhere. After attempting to dig ourselves out, half a day but was probably two hours, the snowmobiles were still not budging. But we had dug and packed just enough snow so that when three men stopped to help pull us out (the only three people we saw), the snowmobiles were able to be pulled out with help. No, we didn’t die on that mountain although there were several moments that I wasn’t sure what the outcome would be. But God was listening. He did hear my prayers, and He answered them when we needed them.

You may be in a wintery season, not just literally but also figuratively. And perhaps it’s not just you but also the women you lead and teach. The wonderful reality is that winter is just for a season and seasons do pass. Our circumstances may look dismal, dark, and bleak but there is hope. God doesn’t always answer our prayers as we desire, but He does answer. He IS listening. He DOES hear our cries for help. He DOES fulfill all of our needs. My question for you is—do you honestly believe that He will?

It seems like a basic question but maybe this is a harder and darker winter than you have ever experienced before. It is in these wintery seasons that our faith is challenged and tested in ways it may have never been before. But that is how our faith grows.

“So that the genuineness of your faith—more valuable than gold, which perishes though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory, and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 1:7).