As we approach Holy Week, there is something quite powerful about still being in the grip of winter's last gasps. The truth is that the cold does not go easily: not in nature, and not in the human heart.
Ironic, isn't it, that the first days of spring are full of predictions and hype about yet another snowstorm? Three significant nor'easters within two weeks were rough; we certainly do not need a fourth. But the fact that they've all happened in March makes it worse. I mean, what are we supposed to do, break out into a stirring rendition of "I'm Dreaming of a White Easter"? Winter is long enough, and the last thing anyone wants or needs is more snow.
I imagine that it is quite similar to how the disciples of Jesus felt just before Holy Week began. Things had been going so well. Sure, they had weathered a few difficulties and challenges: the death of John the Baptizer, the Pharisees' entrapping questions, the constant press of people and their needs. But the crowds had grown larger and larger; the miraculous healings had become increasingly astonishing; and it seemed that the obstacles they had encountered were just bumps in the road. Yes, there would always be critics. But there was nowhere to go but up. Jesus had everything -- and everyone -- in the palm of his hand.
Those poor fishermen had no idea of the storm that was brewing in Jerusalem. None at all. It's likely they experienced Palm Sunday as proof positive that all their expectations would be fulfilled just as they had hoped. For them, it must have felt like the first day of a new spring. What they got instead was everything they didn't expect: betrayal, arrest, denial, conviction, and crucifixion. In other words, they got what they needed from Jesus, rather than what they wanted from him. The glory they hoped to witness was replaced by the salvation they couldn't even begin to imagine.
Sometimes, when life seems like it is becoming warmer and brighter, the storms beneath the surface are brewing unseen. Spring doesn't really come because a calendar says it's here. There are times when winter lingers, and when storms follow on each other in quick succession. There are times when things don't go the way we anticipate or hope they will. There are times when the currents we've been counting on suddenly change course.
But when the storms keep rolling in, it isn't because God has abandoned us to the storms. Remember, he is the master of the wind and waves. Even they obey his command. Instead, God weathers the storms with us. He stands beside us in the rain and snow and wind and cold. He remains with us through the winter, however long, and leads us into a spring that will never end.
As we approach Holy Week, there is something quite powerful about still being in the grip of winter's last gasps. The truth is that the cold does not go easily: not in nature, and not in the human heart. It retreats beneath the surface, where some of the biggest storms we experience brew and gain their strength. And when those storms erupt, we often make the mistake of assuming that what God allows in our lives isn't going to work for our good. That simply isn't the case.
God will be generous, not because we ask him to be, but because he is. But if we want to experience the goodness of God, we will need to set aside our desire to be comfortable. When we are able to do that, we may begin to see that God's goodness is beyond what we can imagine. So let the storms brew. God is gracious nonetheless. Let the winds blow and the rain and snow fall. Spring will follow winter as surely as Easter follows the cross.
Jaymie Stuart Wolfe is a Catholic convert, wife, and mother of eight. Inspired by the spirituality of St. Francis de Sales, she is an author, speaker, and musician, and serves as a senior editor at Ave Maria Press. Find Jaymie on Facebook or follow her on Twitter @YouFeedThem.