We love snow and spent the first fifteen years of our married life in the snow country of British Columbia, Canada. Dan likes it so much that he doesn’t mind shoveling it!
And then, several years later, we spent a year and a half in Portland, Oregon where it only rained. We went on excursions to Mt. Hood to play in the snow, but that just wasn’t the same as having it available right out your door.
When we moved to Ekalaka, Montana, we arrived between two storm systems. They already had two or three feet of snow on the ground and were pretty tired of it by this time. The day after we arrived, it clouded over and began to snow. We called it a blizzard, but the residents were unimpressed and said it was only a “light wind.”
I’ll never forget the sight of two young people who arrived at our door amidst a swirling, blowing snow storm and asked Brian and Sherry if they would like to go down to the restaurant for an ice cream cone!
Our kids were in heaven. They built a snowman, sledded, shoveled, and made snow angels. The people there looked at them like they were crazy.
But they weren’t. They were finding joy in the snow.
I found this recently and it has become a motto for us.
Dan preached a sermon recently entitled “Joy in the Snow,” using Hebrews 12:1-3 for his text. He is known in our previous church as the one who prayed for snow, and every time we got a lot of it, he was blamed.
I know many people have experienced snow this year along with cold temperatures, freezing water pipes, and closed highways. They may not view snow as a reason to rejoice.
But we can.
How can we find joy in the snow?
Or in any other of life’s obstacles, trials, and uncomfortable situations?
Life has a way of dumping storms on us on a regular basis. We don’t choose them, want them, or plan for them. But they happen anyway.
A few months ago, as I walked up some steps to go and get ready for the day, I fell on a cement pad and broke my leg. I didn’t plan for it to happen, and I was not rejoicing as I lay there in extreme pain waiting for the ambulance to come.
But in hindsight, I can see the grace and love of God even in this. I can find joy in that storm.
A little over a year ago, I was caught in a sneaker wave. I broke my hand and almost lost my life. But I was able to find joy in spite of the difficulty.
In a pandemic, in sickness and sorrow, in financial reversals and the loss of employment, in crushed dreams and hopeless situations, we can find joy.
“Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Heb. 12:1-3 NASV
In chapter 11 of Hebrews, the writer of Hebrews details the lives and events of people we call the heroes of faith. These men and women demonstrated faith in God by their walk, their worship, and their life styles despite their circumstances.
These are the “cloud of witnesses” who have gone on before us. By their lives, they testify to us that the life of faith is not only possible, it is the only way to find joy and fulfillment.
They witness to us that God is able to protect, provide, and keep us safe through the storms of life.
They tell us that it is possible to find joy in the snow.
How can we survive the storms and stay sane? There are three principles that we find in this passage that will help us through it.
1. Lay aside your weights.
I’ve never run a marathon.
Several years ago, Dan and I jogged a 2-mile route to get in shape. It was hard work, but we reaped many benefits from the discipline. They say that serious runners will strap weights to their ankles to train. Then when they compete, they have added strength and endurance.
The writer of Hebrews says to lay aside the weights that would hinder running our race.
These weights included sin (that so easily trips us up), bad attitudes, and self-pity. These weights steal our joy, make us focus on fear, and blind us to what God is doing in our lives through the trial He is allowing us to experience.
Weights may be bitterness, blaming God, and hardness of heart. We don’t deny the pain and difficulty. We accept the reality of it, but we choose not to wallow in despair. We choose to lay those things aside.
We confess our sin, keep our attitude right before God, and wait for Him to work it all out for His glory.
George Mathieson, a well-known blind preacher in Scotland in the last century, wrote these words:
“My God, I have never thanked Thee for my thorn. I have thanked Thee a thousand times for my roses. But not once for my thorn. I’ve been looking forward to a world where I shall get compensation for my cross. But I have never thought my cross as itself a present glory. Teach me the glory of my cross. Teach me the value of my thorn. And show me that I have climbed to Thee by the path of pain. Show me that tears have made rainbows.”
How can we find joy in the snow?
2. Run your race with patience.
In this race, we are not competing against each other. Each person has their own race to complete with different circumstances, trials, and blessings. We don’t compare our trials to other people’s trials.
I Peter 5:10 states, “After you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself perfect you, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.”
There isn’t an athlete in this world who doesn’t understand the work and patience that is involved in accomplishing excellence in his sport.
Day after day, they show up for practice, and they work at their skill for sometimes up to eight hours a day! They discipline their bodies, their appetites, their desires — all to win the prize.
We must do the same to win the prize of a race well run for God.
“I discipline my body and make it my slave, so that, after I have preached too others, I myself will not be disqualified.” I Cor. 9:27
Somehow we think we can get on the fast track with God in spiritual matters and hey, presto! get to that place of excellence in our faith without the work, diligence and patience that is required.
Give it time. Find joy in the little things. Stay faithful in prayer and Bible study. Run with patience.
How can we find joy in the snow?
3. Keep your eyes on Jesus
Jesus Christ is the last example (after the list in Hebrews 11) of a person who ran the race with faith. He endured the Cross. He despised the shame. He looked forward to eternal joy and the salvation of millions of souls.
He walked through the storms, and He is with you in yours.
Keep your focus fixed on Christ and His Word and you can weather any storm. You can find joy in the snow.
The story is told of a man years ago who became discouraged in his Christian life because of multiple trials and difficulties. He wandered downtown one day where they were building a great cathedral. He came upon a man who was carefully fashioning a stone, chipping it off here and there, and smoothing the edges.
The man said to the stonemason, “What are you doing?” It seemed so tedious to him when there was so much work to be done.
The workman replied, “I am fashioning this stone down here so it will fit up there.” And he looked up to the tall tower above him.
The man walked away, his heart lighter. God fashions us down here so we will be fit for His place up there.
Joni Eareckson Tada, a paraplegic, expressed it this way. “I do not care if I am confined to this wheelchair provided from it I can bring glory to God.”
Is it snowing in your life?
Remember these points and put them into practice:
- Get rid of the weights
- Run with patience
- Focus on Christ
Listen to this song by Andrae Crouch, Through It All, sung by Guy Penrod. It says everything about finding joy in the life’s difficult situations.
It’s easy to complain, question God, and feel sorry for yourself. But joy comes in the morning when we throw our burdens on the Lord and run the race with joy. Turn your tears into rainbows.
I hope you find joy in the snow today!