The Gift of a Hard Season

We stood on a pile of dirt, surrounded by overgrowth and underbrush. It was intimidating to decide if this was the lot we wanted from on a drawing on a piece of paper and an unlevel, uncultivated plot of earth. 

We were just coming up for air from a hard season financially, relationally, and spiritually. It seemed as though every area of our life had been put through the fire. We had always hoped for a little more space for our family, but that dream had burned. We were tested and refined during that season. Yet we saw and experienced God’s goodness, kindness, love, and grace in ways only those trials could have shown us. We were settled where we were grateful for the unexpected treasures of that season.

We couldn’t have dreamed building a house would even be a consideration, yet there we stood, on what would become our foundation. Several months later, we pulled up to our newly framed home, eager to walk its floors and get an idea of what it would look and feel like. Summer had turned to fall and fall was easing into winter since the time we had chosen our lot. What was once lush and green was now bare. As I stood where our kitchen windows would soon be, I noticed some blue lines just above the bare tree tops. My heart skipped a beat as I wondered, “could it be?”

Glimpses of the Mountaintops

Our town is just below the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. While they aren’t the peaks of Colorado or other mountain ranges, their beauty fills my soul. They are visible as you drive around town or go hiking, but I never imagined we would have a view of them from our home. It was a hazy day and I figured it was just some low clouds. I didn’t mention what I saw to anyone. We returned a few days later, on a beautiful clear day and it was undeniable, those were indeed the mountains. 

Tears filled my eyes. I was deeply grateful for the unexpected surprise but also for the tangible reminder that there are some views of God we can only see in the bareness of hard, winter seasons. 

We are drawn to the fruitful and warm seasons of spring and summer, full of beauty and life, and fall full of brilliant colors. But winter often brings sadness with the bareness, yet there are treasures to be found in the hard seasons.

In Isaiah 61:3 NIV, we are given hope for our winter seasons, “and provide for those who grieve in Zion— to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor.” 

Jesus is with us in the hard seasons and he is bringing beauty from the ashes. The beauty of spring, summer, and fall come not in spite of winter but because of winter. Our hard and barren seasons lead to our seasons of fruitfulness. 

Fall is one of my favorite seasons, yet there is an anticipation that comes now knowing I will see the mountains during the barrenness of winter. It may be hard, but there is so much good to behold in the hard. I know Jesus is with me and there will be beauty and treasures in the spring. 

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