I had a privilege of traveling to Israel in 2012 and one of the many amazing experiences was participating in a presentation by a Bedouin man. This ancient desert culture has a unique way of welcoming and treating a stranger in the desert. One of the many practices they follow is that when someone has outstayed their welcome, they fill their coffee cup completely full. This, in their culture, is a sign that “my heart is full of you.” In other words, thanks for coming, but I have had enough, it is time to leave.
Perhaps you have had visitors like this. I don’t know about you, but I think that this year’s winter needs a full cup of coffee. My heart is full of winter and I find myself longing for spring! This year, it seems, we are in perpetual winter. Although this can happen at times with nature’s seasons, it also can happen in our lives. Have you ever had one of those seasons of life that doesn’t seem to end? Maybe you have been sick for an extended season, you are struggling with depression, relationships continue to struggle, etc. Whatever it is, you feel that you are in the midst of a long protracted winter and you long for spring, for the flowers to burst forth and for the days to get longer.
The Scriptures talk about this reality in numerous ways. Psalm 23 reminds us: “…though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.” (Psalm 23:4) Although those who follow Jesus, the Good Shepherd, are never promised perpetual summer (there will be parts of the journey that go through the dark valley), they are promised a God who is with us. In fact, one of the names of Jesus is “Emmanuel,” meaning “God WITH us.” Thus, God promises hope, comfort and peace during the prolonged winters but he doesn’t promise to remove them nor trade them for perpetual summers; instead, he promises to be with us through them – to never leave us nor forsake us. (Hebrews 13:5)
You need Jesus! Jesus does not promise immediate and perpetual summer in this world; a world in which he said we would have trouble, but he does promise hope. He promises hope that he has overcome this world and the hope that, if we follow Jesus, he will always be with us.
“I [Jesus] have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)
If you don’t know Jesus, the living hope (1 Peter 1:3), I would challenge you to know him by faith. God desires to walk with you through the long seasons of life because in and through him, there is hope, truth, peace and love. I would challenge you know Jesus because in him and through him (John 14:6) there is abundant (John 10:10) and eternal life (John 3:16). Take heart! In Jesus, there is hope – hope that he will not only walk with us in this world but that he has overcome the world.