Winter is a season that often gets overlooked from a spiritual perspective. While spring and summer tend to be associated with renewal and vibrancy, winter is seen as a time of dormancy and bleakness. However, winter has profound spiritual significance for the believer who takes time to reflect. In this post, we will explore the deeper spiritual meaning behind winter and how embracing this season can enrich our faith.
For those of us who live in temperate climates, winter signifies a time of coldness, barrenness, and stillness. The world around us seems to shut down and withdraw. Trees lose their leaves, animals go into hibernation, and the earth becomes hard and frozen. On the surface, it may seem that little is happening during the winter months.
However, there is much activity happening underneath the surface during winter. The earth is being replenished with water and nutrients. Roots are growing deeper and stronger. Seeds are being planted and embryos are beginning to form and grow.
Winter provides the gestation period for new life to form. What may appear inert on the outside is actually pulses with preparations for rebirth. The same is true in our spiritual lives. Times of spiritual winter are not times of inactivity but rather cultivation for future fruitfulness.
- Winter represents a period of dormancy and bleakness on the surface, but activity and preparations underneath
- The earth is replenished with water and nutrients during winter months
- Roots grow deeper, seeds are planted, and embryos form during winter
- Winter provides a gestation period for new life and rebirth
- Spiritual winters are not inactive times but rather cultivation for future fruitfulness
Winter Represents a Time of Rest
After the vibrant activity of spring and summer, winter announces a decrease in productivity and signals a time for rest. The Book of Genesis declares that on the seventh day, God rested from His creative work (Genesis 2:2). Just as God instituted a Sabbath day of rest after six days of labor, the wintertime Sabbath season follows the active growing seasons.
The forced decrease in productivity during the winter months reminds us of our human limitations. We require times of replenishing rest, and winter provides this vital space for restoration. Ecclesiastes 3:1 (NKJV) tells us there is a season for everything under heaven, including “a time to plant and a time to pluck what is planted.” Winter allows us to retreat and replenish as we prepare for new growth.
Winter Awakens a Sense of Longing
The cold, icy weather of winter tends to drive us indoors. The outdoors become inhospitable and we hunker down by the fireplace and gaze out the frosty window panes. This inward focus awakens a profound sense of longing within us. We yearn for warmth, connection, and renewal.
Ecclesiastes 3:11 (NKJV) says God “has put eternity in [our] hearts.” This verse points to the intrinsic longing for eternity that resides in the human spirit. Something about the starkness and isolation of winter arouses this inner longing within us. We ache for the warmth of relationship, for the return of beauty and vibrancy, and for deliverance from the icy clutches of winter.
This winter longing is meant to kindle our longing for God. The earth’s cycles of death and rebirth reflect the Christian’s experience of dying and rising with Christ. The winter season reminds us we are dust, and to dust we will return (Genesis 3:19). However, this reality ignites earnest longing for eternal springtime in God’s presence. As 2 Corinthians 5:2 (NKJV) declares, “For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed with our habitation which is from heaven.” Winter stirs our affections for Paradise Restored.
Winter Calls Us to Embrace Discomfort
While the balmy days of summer or spectacular beauty of autumn dazzle our senses, the winter months tend to be uncomfortable and harsh. Short, gloomy days and frigid temperatures push us out of our comfort zones. The earth’s stillness and barrenness elicits feelings of sadness and isolation.
Yet the discomfort of winter provides a powerful opportunity for spiritual growth. Romans 5:3-4 (NKJV) asserts that tribulation and suffering produce perseverance, character, and hope. Winter’s difficulties call us to patience, strength, and trust in God’s faithfulness.
The desert fathers and mothers viewed discomfort as a pathway to intimacy with God. By embracing the winter wilderness, we discover the depths of God’s all-sufficient grace. As Paul declared in 2 Corinthians 12:9, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Lean into the wilderness! God’s strength is magnified in our frailty.
Winter Reminds Us of Mortality
The traditional poem states, “To every thing there is a season, A time for every purpose under heaven.” Winter’s dying beauty provides a poignant reminder that our lives are like grass that withers and fades (Isaiah 40:6-8, Psalm 103:15-16). We flourish for a season before returning to dust.
While morbid, remembering our mortality spurs us to number our days that we might live wisely (Psalm 90:12). We are prompted to redeem our fleeting days and invest in that which lasts for eternity. As Jesus said in John 12:24-25 (NKJV), “Unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much grain…If anyone serves Me, let him follow Me; and where I am, there My servant will be also.” Death always precedes resurrection. We die to self daily so we might live eternally. Winter reveals the passing nature of all earthly things and clarifies our calling to store up heavenly treasure.
Winter Provides Time for Reflection
The hectic pace of life noticeably slows down during the winter months. The long nights and cold days lend themselves to stoking fires, drinking hot cocoa, and entering into quiet reflection. The onset of winter provides a reflective reprieve from busyness.
King Solomon wrote there is a time for every activity under heaven including “a time to search and a time to give up as lost” (Ecclesiastes 3:6). Winter creates space to search our hearts before God and surrender anything we have lost or needs eliminating. Psalm 139:23-24 (NKJV) says, “Search me, O God, and know my heart…And see if there is any wicked way in me.” Winter provides ideal conditions for self-examination and repentance.
The New Year coinciding with winter also promotes taking stock of the past year. We reflect on failures and successes, joys and sorrows. Thoughtful evaluation then propels us into new patterns and spiritual disciplines for growth. Winter’s slowness fosters invaluable self-reflection.
Winter Reminds Us of Light in the Darkness
The winter solstice marks the year’s longest night and shortest day. This cosmic event has represented the victory of light over darkness in many ancient cultures. Candles are lit and fires kindled in defiance of winter’s gloom and darkness.
In the midst of storm and shadow, winter points to the eternal Light of the World. Speaking of the Messiah, Isaiah 9:2 (NKJV) prophesies, “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light. Those who dwelt in the land of the shadow of death, upon them a light has shined.” Jesus later declares, “I am the light of the world” (John 8:12).
During the darkness of winter, we cling to Christ our Light. The seasons teach God remains faithful, despite circumstances. As James 1:17 (NKJV) proclaims, “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning.” God’s light illumines our way.
Rather than a time of absence and inactivity, winter brims with spiritual significance. The cold months provide a Sabbath season to restore our souls. Winter awakens longing for connection, beauty, and Paradise Restored. Difficulty and discomfort lead us into greater intimacy with our all-sufficient Savior. The dying seasons teach us to number our days, live wisely, and invest in eternity. The slowed pace creates space for self-reflection and repentance. Lastly, winter reminds us that light shines brightest in darkness through our eternal Hope.
The spiritual meanings enfolded in winter offer encouragement. God remains present and at work even when we enter spiritual winters. The cyclical seasons teach God faithfully brings renewal after every death. Beloved, don’t despair in your wintertime wilderness. God is using this season to cultivate fruits of righteousness within you. Embrace the unique blessings this winter offers. God is preparing an astounding springtime!