Normally I love the snow. But this winter was brutal. Sub-freezing temperatures and record-levels of snowfall plagued us for months on end. Overcast skies mirrored an endless blanket of snow on the ground. I cannot remember a colder, drearier winter. It seemed as if it would go on forever.
But a week ago I saw a sign of hope—robins, harbingers of spring. Four plump red-breasted birds sat on our garage roof. It happened on one of the milder days sandwiched between two storms that had each dropped ten inches of snow. Even though Mother Nature was not about to give up on winter, the robins had other plans. They came. And with their arrival came other signs of renewal—a steady rise in temperature, melting snow, and sunshine that made it warm enough outside to wear my baseball jacket for my daily dog walks.
Spring has indeed come—was there really any doubt? It comes every year. We’ve all witnessed it. Never in the history of modern civilization, below the Arctic Circle, has a steady twelve-month cycle of bitter cold been responsible for wiping out spring, summer, and autumn altogether. But when we are living through a cruel winter, one that seems void of any warmth and sunshine, there is a sense of hopelessness that makes us wonder if spring will ever come. And yet it does, without fail. At the first sign of revival, we forget the harshness we lived through for those short months. We welcome it with open arms. We forget we ever doubted its return. The seasons are our teachers. They teach us patience and faith. They show us that hope is part of the pattern of God’s plan for us.
The seasons reflect God’s perfect plan.
We know our Savior helped to create the world. We learn this in the Holy Bible when we read in John how God and Jesus were together in the beginning and how “all things were made by him, and without him was not anything made that was made.” (The Holy Bible, John 1:1-3). This includes the seasons of winter, spring, summer, and autumn. We cycle through them year after year. They give the earth new life. And as long as we act as good stewards over the earth, keeping nature in balance and harmony, we learn to maintain our earthly home. Can we learn from the pattern of the seasons how to maintain our spiritual homes as well?
Doubt not, fear not.
There are times when we live through spiritual winters that seem to never end. This can look like poverty to some, while others may be plagued with health challenges. The disappointment of withheld blessings, the agonizing sufferings of abuse, the snares of addiction and the consequences that follow—all appear as spiritual winters to those who are in the midst of these trials. So why would a loving God pattern nature to have a healthy revival, only to leave us to suffer in the loneliness and cold? A loving father would not turn his back on his children. Likewise, our Father in Heaven as not turned his back on us.
We can talk to God.
“If any of you lack wisdom let him ask of God that giveth to all men liberally and upbraideth not. And it shall be given him.” (The Holy Bible, James 1:5). I used to believe that only the higher-ups in theology had access to God. This is what many people are taught. But when I began to see God as my Heavenly Father, I began to feel differently about our relationship. He is our Eternal Father—the Father of our spirits. We lived with Him before we were born. We had a relationship with Him then. And we can maintain that relationship now. The way to do that is through prayer—personal prayer directly to Him. He listens because he is the kindest, most loving father there is. And he blesses us with comfort and peace through the still small voice of the Holy Spirit.
Before I knew I was a child of God, I felt alone. Now that I know my Father in Heaven loves me, listens to me, and answers me, I am awakened to the knowledge that I matter to someone great—someone who cares, someone who has the power to heal me. If I pray with a sincere heart, with real intent, and if I listen for that still small voice of peace, I feel connected to something far greater than what I see around me. And if my trial is particularly difficult, I know my Heavenly Father has faith in me to overcome it. Through prayer, I take comfort in renewing my relationship with a father who knows me more than I know myself.
Our Savior Jesus Christ has been through your trials.
Part of the reason why I love my Savior so much is because I know He felt everything I have felt and will feel in life. We know His Atonement (his suffering in Gethsemane, crucifixion and resurrection) cleansed us from sin and death, but it did more. “And he shall go forth, suffering pains and afflictions and temptations of every kind; and this that the word might be fulfilled which saith he will take upon him the pains and the sicknesses of his people.” (The Book of Mormon, Alma 7:11). This means when I feel like I am alone, when I feel that no one could possibly understand, that nobody has been through what I’m going through, I can stop and remember the truth—someone has. And that someone is Jesus Christ. And even though Jesus has been there, He’s willing to walk through the trial again, with me. He won’t let me do it alone. There is an unmistakable comfort that comes when I remember I am not alone. As if a weight is lifted from my shoulders. Or, more appropriately, as if a sign of spring has perched itself outside my window.
The Gospel of Jesus Christ is God’s Promise of Spring
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” (The Holy Bible, John 3:16). There is a reason this scripture is most often quoted in all of Christianity. It is profoundly true and it is overflowing with love. And just as spring comes every year without fail, Christ our Savior will heal us from our spiritual pains and afflictions through the Atonement. When we remember this, we cannot fail, because He cannot fail. Some trials may last longer than others, just as some winters may be more heartless and cold. But spring always comes. And the Savior always saves. He saves everyone. No one can escape spring. No one is left out of our Heavenly Father’s and Jesus Christ’s eternal love. The seasons have taught us the pattern of eternity. Spring is a gift of renewal both of life on earth and life eternal.
About Nanette ONeal
Nanette O'Neal loves the gospel and is very happy to share her testimony on LDS Blogs. She is a convert to the church and still feels the spirit burn strong within her heart. She graduated from Mason Gross School of the Arts with a degree in music education and has taught children and adults in the private and public sphere for over twenty years. Nanette continues to study the gospel and the art of writing. She writes weekly inspirational articles on her blog and is currently working on an LDS fantasy novel series, A Doorway Back to Forever. You can find her at NanetteONeal.blogspot.com. Nanette has a wonderful husband, talented son, and three beautiful dogs.