When the pandemic began, I was optimistic. I saw it as a brief interruption that might actually provide a respite for some people who are overworked, help others rearrange some priorities, and teach all of us a little about life’s vulnerabilities…and then everything would return to normal. Boy, was that ever shortsighted! (Over the span of the next ten years, it may turn out to be a brief interruption, but its brevity escapes me now!) This pandemic has upended and rearranged life far beyond anything I imagined.
Perhaps it has felt worse because of the cool spring that seemed to drag on as we endured lockdowns and sheltering-at-home advisories—no potlucks, no spring sports, no graduation parties, little-to-no traveling. It’s like we’re still in hibernation. Yet seasons still come and go, reminding us of the faithful rhythms of nature, as well as the promises of God which still remain.
Blogger Missy Martens names three things about spring that remind us of God and inspire hope. Here they are:
1. God is joyous. After a long, cold winter, when that first tulip pokes its head out of the ground, joy explodes out of the earth. When the birds return to sing their songs, joy explodes out of the sky. More color, more sounds, more smiles. God, our creative Creator, has given us this glorious gift of spring to show us what joy is. Joy is a baby goat jumping and kicking—God created that goat. Joy is a lilac bush in full aromatic blossom—God created that bush and our olfactory senses. Joy is kids splashing in mud puddles after a spring rain—God created those pools of water and those kids to splash in them with the perfect amount of gusto. God is joyous and life-giving. Through the season of spring, God shows us a renewal of life and joy in Jesus. Life after death. Joy after sorrow. Glee after drudgery. “See! The winter is past; the rain is over and gone. Flowers appear on the earth; the season of singing has come, the cooing of doves is heard in our land” (Song of Songs 2:11,12).
2. God is our caretaker. Baby goats. Lilacs. Puddles and kiddos. God created them all, but he didn’t stop there. He continues to care for his creation, and that includes the land, the flowers, the animals, and us. He makes sure the sun rises and sets, the flowers blossom and bloom, and his people? God tells us we are more valuable than the sparrows and the lilies (Matthew 6:25-34), which leaves us with complete confidence that he will take care of us according to his good plan and purpose. Sometimes this means he is watering us and feeding us life-giving fertilizer. Sometimes it means he is pruning us, which hurts because those Felco pruners are sharp, but this pruning will help us bear more fruit in the seasons to come. Either way, he never leaves us to tend to ourselves or fend for ourselves. He is the best gardener, the best vineyard owner, the best shepherd, the best caretaker. “Ask the Lord for rain in the springtime; it is the Lord who sends the thunderstorms. He gives showers of rain to all people, and plants of the field to everyone” (Zachariah 10:1).
3. God is faithful. Spring proves that God is faithful and that he always keeps his promises. God orchestrates the cycles of the days and the seasons of the year. In the late autumn/winter, the leaves fall off and die, the flowers die, the grass dies . . . but every spring there is a renewal of life. Those plants had to die to make way for new life, just as God sent his Son to die to give us life. God is faithful. Through death, life comes more abundantly. Hebrews 10:23 says, “Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.”
There’s no sugarcoating it; our present is unsettling and boring and arduous and disconcerting and weird and discombobulating. But there is still hope. The past confirms it. Spring comes every year. So does summer, then fall followed by winter. God is with us through all the seasons, and his mercies are new every morning. Thanks be to God!
Phil Kanagy, pastor
June 3, 2020