I was talking with a friend the other day, John*, and he was having one of those seasons in his life that was like one of those old stereotypical country songs, “He had lost his job, his truck broke down, his dog died, and he was fighting with his wife” (not all of this happened to John, I am exaggerating for drama). It seemed like his world was crashing down around him, and he wanted me to tell him what he should do next. Instantly I felt the tension of what Job’s friends must have felt when they saw their good friend in anguish. The Bible says that they did not recognize Job when they saw him from a distance. They raised their voices and wept, then they sat in the dust with him and no one spoke a word to him, for they saw that his suffering was very great (Job 2:13). These guys did it right at first. I began to ask a few leading questions of John, like “What is the Lord teaching you right now? What was the last thing that the Lord spoke to you? What season (summer, fall, winter, spring) does this feel like in your life?” Then I just listened. I had learned this lesson from the foolishness of the friends of Job, who, after listening to Job lament, gave him bad advise. John began to talk and relate what the Lord was doing and what God had said to him regarding the season he was in. It was almost like his reality changed or better yet had come into focus. God was at work and He was in control of the times and the seasons of John’s life.
Far too often we get our own eyes focused on the trouble at hand or the harshness of a spiritual winter. We get caught up in believing that we have done something wrong or that we need to try harder. We believe that the winter we are in is because of some sin we have in our lives and while that is sometimes true it is most often NOT the case. The times and seasons we live through are controlled and ordained by God. Now, I am not saying that God caused Job or John to go through the trials that they went through but I am saying that God was always in control and He could have stopped it at anytime. The fact that He did not is a completely different matter. Job teaches us that God is always in control and though we do not understand, God is always good!
In the book of Daniel we learn that God is the one who changes the times and the seasons: 20 Daniel answered and said: Blessed be the name of God forever and ever, to whom belong wisdom and might. 21 He changes times and seasons; he removes kings and sets up kings; he gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to those who have understanding; 22 he reveals deep and hidden things; he knows what is in the darkness, and the light dwells with him (Daniel 2:20-22 ESV) As I sat with John I kept getting this overwhelming sense that he was almost through the winter of this season in his life. I was about to tell him to continue in patiently waiting on the Lord, when he quoted the book of James out of the blue, however it fit in so well only God could have done it. 7 Be patient, therefore, brothers, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient about it, until it receives the early and the late rains. 8 You also, be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand (James 5:7-8 ESV) John told me “God is the one who causes things to grow. It is only the foolish farmer that plants one day, then goes into the field the next and gets all mad at the crops because they have not produced yet.” Let us make sure that we don’t look or act like the foolish farmer John was talking about. God is the one who changes the times and the seasons. So let us endure in Him whatever season we find ourselves in.
*not his real name