Dear Reader

Signs of God’s Faithfulness

t has been a long, hard winter. Longer and harder than any I can recall in recent years. The snow has been deeper, the temperatures colder, and the sky grayer. Spring is just around the corner and I, for one, am very glad.

Spring is a time for new beginnings, for fresh starts. There is something exciting about trees budding and daffodils pushing through the moist soil. Life seems to take on new meaning and a sense of hope.

I am grateful for the change in seasons, not simply because winter is coming to a close but because spring is an annual reminder that God is faithful. Though the trees may appear to die each winter, we know that come spring those dormant trees will burst into life. We can trust that every winter will end in spring and that each night breaks into a new day.

These cycles have continued since God called the earth and heavens into being. Winter, spring, summer, and fall—each follows the other, year in and year out. From chaos to God’s good order, creation declares his glory, his dominion, his faithfulness.

As it is with the days and weeks and seasons, so, too, it is in our lives. We have known the winters of our despair. In one way or another, we feel the cold, the darkness, the hibernation—these are part of our life’s cycle. We pass though those times when the God of life seems distant, far away from our circumstances. Yet even in the darkest and loneliest seasons of our lives we trust—we know—that God is faithful and that spring will slowly push aside the dark, the cold, the lifelessness of our winter’s discontent.

In those seasons of darkness and despair we may find ourselves feeling abandoned and forgotten by our God. With the psalmist we may cry out, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, so far from the words of my groaning?” (Ps. 22:1). Yet even in the darkest hours we know that because Jesus also cried out those words, we are assured that the spring of God’s new life will not be long in coming.

If it is so in our personal lives, it is also true for the church. This year we celebrate the 500th anniversary of John Calvin’s birth. He was born at one of the darkest hours in human history—just a few short years before Luther’s theological challenge ushered in the Protestant Reformation ending a wintery spiritual malaise and theological darkness. From a human perspective there was little hope for revival, but God prepared the hearts and minds of people like Luther and Calvin to lead the church into a new season.

Even now, the cycle of seasons and God’s faithfulness continue. In times of economic despair, God breaks forth, leading his church into new, creative ministries that touch the hearts and lives of people worldwide. Where others find darkness and gloom, Christ’s followers see signs of God’s faithfulness breaking out all around. Christ’s followers everywhere, with the Spirit’s help, are planting new churches, revitalizing existing churches, making campus ministries more vibrant, feeding the poor, and making disciples in our neighborhoods and around the world. In times seemingly characterized by spiritual lethargy, God transforms the lives of thousands by the power of his Spirit.

What may seem to us to be a winter of darkness and gloom is a time for God to break forth in his season of hope. God is not only alive and well, but he continues to prepare his church, his people, his chosen ones, for the day of Christ’s return. What a day of rejoicing that will be!

About the Author

Jerry Dykstra served as the executive director of the Christian Reformed Church in North America from 2006-2011.
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