|Volume 17 Number 3 March 2015||
Rodney Nulph, Associate Editor
While I am certain not everyone can fully relate to an article with such a title, most parts of America, especially by this time of the year, can relate. Snow means many different things to different people. To the young, snowfall often means a day off from school, as well as jubilant days filled with the building of snowmen and launching “snow balls” at an unsuspecting sibling, or even worse, their parents! To the elderly, snow often is associated with treacherous roadways, slippery sidewalks and unseemly bitter temperatures. Interestingly, in 1946, a winter storm was estimated to be worth some $15 per acre due to the value it brought to the land and the summertime crops. While it is true that many look at snow as a burden, nevertheless, contained therein are divine blessings.
The patriarch Job was a pious man (Job 1:8). Job was also a patient man (James 5:11). Given the dark valley that Job faced, he began to question God (Job 13:22). As the great book continues, a series of speeches between Job and his three friends ensue. Near the end of the Book of Job, God, who had largely remained silent throughout, began to somewhat chide Job and remind him that Job’s perspective was limited. In the midst of this “reminder,” God profoundly asked, “Hast thou entered into the treasures of the snow?” (Job 38:22a). “Treasures in the snow”? Really? What treasures could possibly be contained in these frozen white crystals?
Firstly, snow teaches us the powerlessness of humanity. Physically, when a winter storm hits, man, even with all of the technology at his disposal, is virtually powerless against the snow. He shovels, plows and salts, and yet still the snow closes roadways, cancels school and even is guilty of “turning off the electricity.” Man against God’s power is nothing! Spiritually, the same is true as well. Alone, man is powerless spiritually! Jonah learned that valuable lesson while swimming in whale saliva (Jonah 2:9). Paul reverberated this powerful truth on many occasions (Ephesians 1:7; Colossians 1:14). God is much higher than His creation (Isaiah 55:1-9), and the snow that comes from heaven certainly reminds us of our powerlessness!
Secondly, snow teaches us about the priorities of life! Often, when a winter storm has been forecasted, grocery shelves become bare. Bread, milk and other staples rapidly disappear. Roads are often closed and companies and schools close because many are reminded of what is really important in life during such times. Spiritually, the same is true as well. Spiritually speaking, the salvation of one’s soul is priority #1 (Matthew 16:26). The woman at Jacob’s well understood this for it is written that she “left her water pot” (John 4:28). Simon and Andrew understood priorities for the former tax collector recorded that these brothers “left their nets” (Matthew 4:20) to follow Jesus. When life is “boiled down,” the only thing worth much of anything is our relationship with God! Snow reminds me of what is really important!
Thirdly, snow teaches us about the providence of God! Providence is simply defined as God “providing.” Physically, snow is a beneficial blessing given by God. Snow brings the water table up to where it should be. Snow contains large amounts of nitrogen, which is vital to crops and other plants that sustain humanity. Certainly, spiritually God provides for His own! An interesting passage that “jumped” off the page recently teaches about God’s providence. In the context of giving, Paul declared, “Upon the first day of the week let every one of you lay by him in store, as God hath prospered him, that there be no gatherings when I come” (1 Corinthians 16:2). From where does prosperity come? “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning” (James 1:17). Snow reminds me that God will take care of me!
While I am fully aware of many people’s disdain for snow, there are still powerful lessons contained therein. Past the shoveling, plowing and just enduring the white “stuff,” there are obviously many treasures for us to behold. Say friend, have you considered the “Treasures in the Snow”?
Lessons I Learned from the Cross
I paced back and forth the living room floor, not really knowing what to do with myself. I couldn’t believe I had been treated this way. I felt hurt. I felt angry. I felt such disappointment. It was then that a bit of advice, given from a friend years ago, had come to my memory. “When you have ill-feelings, study the life of Jesus.” Feeling persecuted, I opened my Bible to Luke 22 and 23, the account of the crucifixion of Christ Jesus. As I began to read this familiar text, a new significance seemed to leap off the pages. Here are three lessons I learned from the cross that night.
Pray for those who cause us suffering. It is our sinful humanity that wants to retaliate and “get them back” when we have been hurt. The inspired penman affirmed that we daily have a battle going on between the carnal and the spiritual (Romans 7:15). However, if we follow the example of our Savior, Jesus the Christ, we see that He took the spiritually mature route. Luke 22 and 23 records that Jesus had just suffered hours upon hours of illegal and unfair treatment, betrayal from so called friends, a conspiracy of corruption full of lies smeared on his name, defamation of character, arrest, mocking and beatings. All alone he faced the Sanhedrin, a crew of 71 men. Our Lord faced the public who falsely accused Him and then demanded that Barabbas, who was a criminal in prison for robbery and murder (Luke 23:18-19; John 18:40), be freed in place of Christ. As though that wasn’t enough, Jesus was then crucified on the cross!
However, Jesus prayed for those who caused this suffering. Luke 23:34 records Christ saying, “Father, forgive them for they do not know what they do.” As always, Jesus practiced what He preached! His behavior in this situation mirrors His teachings of loving one’s enemies (Luke 6:27). Praying for those who cause us suffering will not only help us work through our carnal battle to a mature spiritual level, but it will also help the persecutors, for their names are brought before the Almighty, and He alone is able to help them.
A second lesson I learn from the cross is that while facing suffering from others, we should still seek to bless and not curse. While on the cross, hanging on the tree by nails in His hands and feet, Jesus Christ sought blessing for His persecutors! Instead of calling names, seeking revenge by spreading lies about them or a whole host of other methods of retaliation, Jesus asked the Father to bless them with forgiveness! I am reminded of a stanza of a poem I penned some time ago:
Innocent Man, God’s Son was He
Hung by nails on the wooden tree
Their very act made those persecutors free
On Christ’s lips were blessing for you and me!
A third lesson I learned from the cross is that we should forgive those who cause us suffering. Jesus’ prayer to the Father to forgive those who caused Him suffering should not be confused with the idea that Christ excused these men from His teachings on repentance. Consider Jesus’ words from Luke 17:3, “…and if he repents forgive him.” However, Jesus didn’t hold a grudge. We, too, need to mimic Jesus and forgive those who have repented of a wrong against us. Remember the inspired words of Paul, “And be kind to one another tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you” (Ephesians 4:32). Forgiveness is a liberating, burden-lifting action! Following the teachings of Christ is always best for us, not only spiritually, but also many times mentally, emotionally and physically.
After reading these passages of Scripture and gleaning these three lessons from God’s Holy Word that night, I was filled with embarrassment that my “light and momentary trials” (2 Corinthians 4:17) were actually very mild compared to Christ’s sufferings. I also felt comforted by His Word, knowing Christ understood the feelings I had (Hebrews 2:18; 4:15). It was a comfort to be understood. Lastly, I felt loved because Christ suffered, bled and died for me. He loved me enough to forgive me! I closed my Bible and headed back to bed. Full of peace and gratitude, I closed my eyes and went to sleep.