My two sisters live in Tucson, Arizona. We were all raised in the Chicago area–I escaped the snow and cold more quickly than they did. You never forget the snowstorms that, as a kid, were the invitation to snowball fights, snowmen, snow forts, and anything that had to do with wintery wonder.
Of course, none of us appreciated the chore of shoveling the driveway, which we were all responsible for. And if it had snowed throughout the night, and the plows had been through, we had to work extra hard to get through the hardpack snow at the end of the drive.
John and I moved from Illinois to California to Idaho to Wisconsin, back out to California, and finally to Florida. We discovered we’re so much more enjoyable as people with warmth and sun.
My two sisters recently moved to Tucson, one from the Chicago area and one from the northern climes of Wisconsin. Both had had enough of snow, shoveling, and driving on icy roads. The desert seemed the perfect place for them both–warmth, sunshine, a whole new ecosystem that just begged for exploration.
Until it snowed this past week.
The cacti were covered with snow that denied them their desert identity. Desert critters, who are accustomed to colder nights in the winter were unfamiliar with the white stuff that blanked their surroundings. Kids wanted to stay home from school and play in the snow, but it melted so quickly that the only place it stuck to were the cacti.
Not good for making snowballs.
It didn’t last long. It was a moment of beauty for many yet a time of inconvenience for those who were terrified of driving in it, and those who slipped and slid uncomfortably outside.
We live in a world that loves to throw us curveballs, unsettling us with the unexpected and unappreciated. The things over which we can’t have any control. Frustration often arises when we can’t affect change in our surroundings to make them more appealing to what we think we want.
Nobody on this side of heaven has that much power.
The nation of Israel was experiencing this frustration in a huge way. They’d been attacked by the nation of Babylon and most of them had been carried into exile. They were bemoaning their misery when they received a letter from the prophet Jeremiah. He’d received a message from God to help them understand their predicament better.
They would be in exile for seventy years. Many people wouldn’t live to see their release, but he encouraged them to build lives and homes where they were. To become good neighbors to those who lived around them, get married, and have children. Life needed to go on
“This is what the Lord says: ‘You will be in Babylon for seventy years. But then I will come and do for you all the good things I have promised, and I will bring you home again. For I know the plans I have for you,’ says the Lord. ‘They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.’” Jeremiah 29:10-11
The people of Israel were experiencing consequences for their choices of ignoring God and His goodness toward them. But He wouldn’t leave them without hope; He never leaves His own without hope and a promise of His presence.
Snow is a natural phenomenon that can be viewed as beautiful or inconvenient. The mistakes we make in life will carry consequences–things we can learn from in hope or despair over in misery.
God always promises to be with us even when we make poor decisions or mistakes that bring consequences. He softens the blow of our pain and lessens the extent of our suffering. Because He’s with us.
There’s no force of nature that is greater than His love.
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