Living here in Colorado near the foothills of the beautiful Rocky Mountains and with the breathtaking view of Pikes Peak a daily joy, we also live with the vicissitudes of spring. Vicissitudes: I love that word because it seems to trip off the tongue each spring: alternation between opposite or contrasting things. Yep, that perfectly describes springtime in the Rockies! One day people stroll in shorts and tee shirts. Two days later we huddle in our fluffy padded jackets with muffed ears to protect from stinging, blowing snow. One morning I heard birds almost uproariously singing their spring song. Two days later as I trudged through snow to my car, I heard only an intermittent squeaky peep. I smugly—and unkindly—smirk at newcomers to the area when I see them lined up at Home Depot on a sunny March Saturday buying potted flowers to adorn their yards. Wait. Just wait…
Expecting sunny days to last forever creeps into the marrow of our bones when life is going well. The children are healthy, the marriage strong, no family feuding at the last holiday meal, friends are loyal and—in the words of the poet Robert Browning—God’s in his heaven—All’s right with the world.
But that is simply not the reality of year round living. Just yesterday morning an acquaintance turned the corner toward the church parking lot, expecting to soon sit among friends for worship. Unexpectedly her car and another collided in the intersection and soon police cars, a fire truck and ambulance were on site. Fortunately no one was badly hurt but her “springtime” was rudely interrupted. An aching body and totaled car are reminders that the unanticipated stinging winds of hurt are, quite literally for her, just around the corner.
Christians are not called to live in fear of future storms. Writing to his protégé Timothy, the learned Paul reminds him and us, The Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline. Another translation puts it this way, God did not give us a spirit of timidity or cowardice or fear, but He has given us a spirit of power and of love and of sound judgment and personal discipline, abilities that result in a calm, well-balanced mind and self-control.
Bad news is sure to come but the writer of psalms gives good advice: (The righteous) will have no fear of bad news; their hearts are steadfast, trusting in the LORD. Not just English majors should note that the word “trusting” is in the progressive tense, an ongoing action. Unless trusting is cultivated as a lifestyle, when bad news comes the default reaction will be anything but steadfast. If, as a matter of course, we always look toward and express the negative, when the winds of disappointment or disaster blow into our lives, our reaction could very well be, “I told you it would snow. I warned you about financial collapse. I knew he couldn’t be trusted.”
But the continually trusting-in-God Christian can face bad news with the confidence and hope that we see so clearly in Jesus. He knew Golgotha was coming but he kept healing people. He included Judas in the circle until the very end. He hugged children. He put up with Peter. He was a man of joy. He asks me to trust even when spring looks more like winter.