Life has seasons. There are seasons of cool crisp clarity and seasons of rainy uncertainty. The past ten years of my life have had many varied seasons, and yet they have somehow felt coherent. Along the way I’ve learned a few things I wish I could impart to a younger me.
Perhaps the most trying and important season to navigate is the season of doubt. Christians are notorious for viewing doubt like a pagan ritual. I’ve discovered that doubt, when properly handled, can become a springboard to greater faith. John the Baptist spoke words of doubt that have always resonated somewhere deep within me. “Are you the one who is to come, or should we look for another?”, he asked. How could a man set apart before birth to herald the coming messiah, a man who recognized the lamb to take away our sins, and a man who heard the Father’s audible affirmation of the Son in the Jordan speak such words? God has been no less faithful to us and we will doubtless experience doubt. In these seasons we must remember that faith is totally rooted in Christ and not ourselves. Pray the prayer of the father whose son was afflicted with an unclean spirit. I believe, help my unbelief (Mark 9:24)!
Closely related to the season of doubt is the season of weariness. We often find ourselves so busy for God that we don’t have time for God. That is a problem. God has designed that we labor for Him in the strength that He supplies (1 Peter 4:11). He has provided for the care of our souls in Christ and for the care of our bodies in the sabbath. When we put Him first and serve His way, we can trust His supernatural power to accomplish what our finite efforts simply cannot. Our frantic striving to make things happen is futile. Take a break, pray, rest, or perhaps you should even take a season off. When I look back over the last decade of my ministry, I am ashamed at the fumbling I’ve brought on myself. Seasons of weariness can often lead to seasons of doubt and depression.
Seasons of trial should be seasons of joy (James 1:2-4). This perplexing realization usually comes only after we have tasted the sweet and bitter fruit of suffering. Through the difficulties we become aware of what really matters: eternity, holiness, repentance, fellowship, faithfulness, and love. That realization shapes our perspective of the pain.
Perhaps the most dangerous season of all is the season of ease. When we grow comfortable, we can also grow lax; when we choose comfort, we are lax. The gospel draws us into difficult places. Our call is to position our lives in such a way that unbelievers are perplexed by the sacrificial acts of love we humbly offer to others and ultimately to God.
What season are you in? The sting of winter, changing of the leaves, noonday sun, and spring breeze may change our experiences, but not our Christ.