Look, I shouldn’t be writing this.
I should be writing an essay, but I have to write this, so essays will wait.
There’s this random chapter in Felix Salten’s book Bambi where we are privy to a conversation between two leaves. It is autumn, and the leaves are contimplating the prospect of their fall. They question why they must fall? What happens when they do? Where do they go? Do others really come and replace them the following season?
There is something beautiful about it, because I guess it reflects a lot of the uncertainty that we feel around the idea of ‘The end’.
In this instance, I don’t mean ‘The BIG end,’ I mean the little ends. The ends that punctuate our lives, sometimes with a thankful joy in their passing, other times with ends that tear our lives apart but they happen none the less.
I’ve had a lot of the latter recently. The types of ends that seemingly creep from no where and unpick almost everything you knew of yourself and your life.
But I guess through my own autumn – my winter – I am always comforted by the promise of God’s faithfulness in these seasons.
Let’s be honest, we all prefer the new growth of spring or the abundance of summer. But Autumns and winters come to us all too, and I guess it is always encouraging to remind ourselves that God is still the loving, kind and gracious father in these darker seasons as he is in the ones we certainly enjoy a lot more.
Key to the promise God makes to us about himself in these winters and autumns is that he is indeed present. He sees – even what others don’t see of our heartbreak. God sees what we walk and what we swallow, what weighs deep in the pit of our stomachs.
I love this song by Falling Up called Tomorrows:
My song isn’t sung by angels
Isn’t played in chambers
My sound is an anxious tapping
It’s a restless moving
Always, always, always
My place isn’t in this building
There are no golden ceilings
That stand tall
My place is a dream that’s failing
It is broken and waiting
to fall, to fall, to fall
How comforting it is, that idea that while we encounter difficulty in this life, this doesn’t discredit us, nor does it do us any damage in light of eternity. In fact, the trials make us stronger. In fact, the hardship is where his power most weightily dwells.
It means that we are the light leaders for those who walk what we walked.
I especially love the line in this song, ‘My place is a dream that’s failing, it is broken and waiting to fall.’
I love it because it promises gold in the shattered pieces in what we have lost and feel has died.
But not only does God see and dwell with us in these ends, he cares.
That’s the second promise God makes to us.
Our grief matters to him. It isn’t this random sensation isolated to ourselves. Christ took our hardships upon himself on the cross. He has already felt what we’ve felt. There is enormous comfort in this. Christ knows, he intimately knows what we cannot even articulate sometimes. His Holy Spirit will comfort us.
That is the third promise. That we are not alone.
We may feel alone. We might feel sometimes that no one understands – because honestly, there are times in the autumns and the winters that we don’t even understand our own feelings around our circumstances.
Something I have been trying to challenge myself on recently is to invite the Spirit to be with me in my day to day more than I have done. When you’re in easy mode, it can be simple to forget to invite the Holy Spirit along for the ride – we just assume he hopped in the car with us!
In trial, however, things can often come so hard and fast that we feel first, and think later.
I am challenging myself, at least, these days to invite the Holy Spirit in faster. To speak more to me. To give me peace, and assurance. To comfort me.
The final promise I want to make mention of, is the promise that the end is never really the end.
There is a very strong biblical pattern of death and resurrection. From the chaos and darkness, God created the world. Scripture speaks of bringing life from dry bones, from ashes. In the Gospel of John, Jesus talks about the seed having to fall to the ground and be buried to be raised up (John 12:24)
This is why we have to take assurance of the scripture that we must persevere in trial. That trial produces faith (James 1:2-3). It is the fire that turns us gold (1 Peter 1:7)
So while these autumns and winters totally suck and take everything in us to walk through sometimes – there is an assurance that there will be life from the death.
That our disappointments and heartache will be raised up, and restored.
You may not ever get that life back that you had, the exact way it was – I know I won’t.
But what God has for you, after the death of what you had before, will be wonderful, and profound. As a result of the strength and the power of the testimony of your battle, it will probably in many ways be better, and more useful to the Kingdom of God.
God will not be mocked, or will he allow his children who are faithful to him to be brought to shame. This is the resounding promise made through the book of the prophet Isaiah.
‘I would have despaired’ writes King David, ‘had I not believed I would see the goodness of God in the Land of the Living.’
We may walk in seasons of Winter and Autumn, and that the fact we face hardships is just a part of the life of faith (God never promised smooth sailing anywhere) we have just as much an assurance of the promise of Spring and the abundance of Summer.
Genesis 8:22 says, ‘While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night, shall not cease’
We can rest in this assurance of goodness to come, of restoration, and in the comfort of his Holy Spirit. These trials, while at times, all consuming, and running through us to the very core, are making us golden.