Appreciation in Context

29861Wild animals, don’t be afraid, because the open pastures have grown grass. The trees have given fruit; the fig trees and the grapevines have grown much fruit. So be happy, people of Jerusalem; be joyful in the Lord your God. Because he does what is right, he has brought you rain; he has sent the fall rain and the spring rain for you, as before. And the threshing floors will be full of grain; the barrels will overflow with new wine and olive oil. Joel 2:22-24

God’s promises give real answers to the prayers of faith. So much about the spring highlights the consistency of God’s promises. With the renewal of the earth, there is a renewal of spirit. Seeing the buds of earth brings out blossoms of faith. Out of the bleakness of winter comes the color of spring. Out of the enclosed, stale air of winter comes the outdoor fresh air. Out of the bone-chilling cold comes the sun-kissed warmth. We lift our eyes to the heavens and praise God for the relief. We are renewed in ways we couldn’t imagine. We are overwhelmed with gratitude.

If you happen to live in a region in which season change isn’t drastic, you might be tempted to overlook the benefits of marked seasons. However, all of us have experienced spiritual season. We tend to dislike spiritual winters. We’re surrounded by bleakness, chill, and unproductivity. We simply don’t see growth, so we can’t imagine it happening. Growth might not be obvious, but there are important things that happen in spiritual winters that must occur in preparation for the spring. Without the winter, we couldn’t have spring. If we lived only on the mountain top, we would certainly not appreciate it as much as ascending to the mountain top from the depths of the valley.

We appreciate the spring because of its comparison to the winter – and other seasons. Our appreciation comes in the context of the big picture.

Have you ever looked for hidden objects in books such as I Spy or Where’s Waldo? Or perhaps you’ve looked for words in a search-and-find word puzzle book. Experiencing a spiritual spring is like having someone highlight the object in I Spy or Where’s Waldo or the words in the puzzle book before you open the page. What you most need stands out to you.

When have you struggled to find God’s presence?

When have you experienced God’s presence in an abundant manner?

Because of God’s promises, we don’t have to be afraid, we can be joyful, we can trust God to do what is right, and we can trust God for provision. Joel 2 emphasizes all of these truths. Because of God’s promises, no matter how long and bleak our spiritual winter is, we can be certain spring is coming. God will not leave us in winter when we are fully seeking and relying on him.

If you’re currently in a spiritual winter, what do you most need to anticipate from God in a pending spiritual spring?

If you’re currently in a spiritual spring, what are you most celebrating about God’s presence?

If you’re currently in another spiritual season, reflect on what spiritual springs in your past experiences have been like.

The following verses speak to the promise of joy. Soak in and claim God’s promises today.

I have told you these things so that you can have the same joy I have and so that your joy will be the fullest possible joy. (John 15:11)

Be joyful because you have hope. Be patient when trouble comes, and pray at all times. (Romans 12:12)

Be full of joy in the Lord always. I will say again, be full of joy. (Philippians 4:4)

My brothers and sisters, when you have many kinds of troubles, you should be full of joy, because you know that these troubles test your faith, and this will give you patience. (James 1:2-3)

You have not seen Christ, but still you love him. You cannot see him now, but you believe in him. So you are filled with a joy that cannot be explained, a joy full of glory. (1 Peter 1:8)

Your hope is in God, not the messiness of this world. God is strong and can help you not to fall. He can bring you before his glory without any wrong in you and can give you great joy. (Jude 1:24)

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