By Kate Van Der Hoeven
Watching nature gracefully move through the different seasons is one of my favorite aspects of working on a farm. The excitement of new life in spring, harvesting fruits and vegetables in summer, and the gentle, yet colorful ending of the harvest with autumn all thrill me in their own way. Winter, however, does not thrill me. The silence and gray skies depress me. The peaceful beauty of the snow is often lost on me because I’m eager to skip the cold, start working with the soil once again, and watch things grow.
Like the seasons of earth, we all experience seasons in our daily quiet time. Seasons of new discoveries and new hope, seasons of bearing fruit and harvesting insights from the pages of Scripture, and seasons of gentle admonitions that lead to brilliant changes. But there is a season of winter even for our quiet times. Those difficult seasons when we don’t see growth even though we study hard; when God feels far away. As this season lingers, we wonder if the winter will ever end. What do we do during seasons of winter in our quiet time?
Our daily habit of quiet time often has its seasons of unwanted “winter” where we are left to quietly persevere with no evident growth or fruit. And what we do with these seasons are just as important as what we do and learn in the more evident seasons of growth and harvest.
For those of us who are in such a season, here are some reminders and encouragements that I have clung to while waiting for the spring to return.
Winter does not end in death
When I struggle with the winters of my quiet time, I often battle thoughts that God is angry with me and has removed his grace from me. I wonder if I will ever feel close to him again. I try to conjure up wise thoughts or “godly feelings” that aren’t there. I feel like a bad Christian for struggling with my quiet time.
It is our job to pursue godliness and growth, but it is only God who brings in the harvest in his way and in his timing. We must learn to be patient with the seasons of quiet; we might be learning more or learning things more deeply than is obvious. There are some plants that require a season of cold to grow, thrive, and flower. We need patient endurance as we study the Scriptures. Like winter, much is happening under the surface that we cannot see. God is lovingly shaping and pruning us so that we can better receive what he has to teach us.
Do not give up on waiting
Winter can be a long season. It can be hard to keep pressing on with “fruitless” quiet times. But it IS worth it. God delights in our perseverance through the hard times. The grand revelations and emotional highs are lovely for us, and He likes giving us such gifts. But, He cherishes when we meet with Him out of love and obedience even when we feel that we get nothing out of it. Keep going to Him.
Pray for joy and guidance
Just as one earthly season was not meant to last forever, so the winters of quiet time are not meant to last forever. We should pray for guidance so that if something is hindering a fruitful quiet time, we can find out what it is and discover what to do about it. Even if there isn’t anything to change, God loves when we ask for something He desires to give us. Asking for clearer eyes to see Him and a softer heart to enjoy Him, are requests He delights in answering. The most important thing you can do in your winter is to pray for joy, perseverance, and a heart that is ready to submit and change.
Do not keep your struggle hidden
If you are struggling with fruitlessness in your quiet time, don’t try to hide it. You’ll be surprised how many other believers experience the same struggle! As you fight the gloominess and the drudgery of pressing on, encourage others by telling them. They too may be struggling and need to know that God is not angry with them, that this is simply a season.
Remind yourself of God’s faithfulness
God has a purpose for winter. He is always working all things together for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purposes. (Romans 8:28) Trust his love for you and remember that for every struggle, he gives more grace. He is faithful.
Seasons change. Sometimes abruptly, without warning and sometimes quietly, without notice. In whatever season you’re in, know that he IS working, and everything He does is for your good as He prunes and nurtures you to look more and more like Him.
Kate is kid number 7 of 10 in her family, and her life has never had a dull moment! Growing up in a homeschooling, Christian home in Kentucky, Kate was raised to love God and His Word. She currently works at a local orchard, and fills her time with reading, archery, and piano playing. It is her firm belief that we never stop growing to be more like Jesus as we actively pursue Him.