All of this I understand. Although I love Chicago and find it hard to imagine myself living anyplace else, I’ve never been one to proclaim winter as my favorite season. We Chicagoans like to wear our residency here as a badge of honor. We think that toughing it out through the harsh weather likewise toughens our character, making us somewhat impervious to the hardships that life inevitably sends our way.
I think there’s some truth to this. The old adage “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” contains a cup full of wisdom. Your challenge may be seemingly ceaseless cold that stings your face, hard financial times that cause you to dread the daily trip to the mailbox, or the illness that may threaten you with an early departure from this world. What beats the crap out of you may be the disdain that your previously doting child now spews on you, or a marriage that has failed despite the vague remembrance of happier times when parting for just hours seemed tortuous.
But we’re survivors, are we not? We get beat up, and then we stand up, often surprised that we survived. After brushing ourselves off, don’t we feel just a bit of satisfaction, don’t we hold our heads just a little bit higher when we come to the realization that we’re stronger than we could have imagined?
God is not the source of the evil that befalls us. He does not delight in our suffering, but he does abide with us through it. “I have told you this so that through me you may have peace,” Jesus said. “In the world you’ll have trouble, but be courageous—I’ve overcome the world!” (John 16:33).
Jesus has indeed overcome the world. This truth lifts me when I stumble along dark, rocky paths. And when the harshness of winter growls at me, I maintain an inward sly smile, knowing that I’m only growing stronger, and spring awaits.
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”