So, April is coming to a close and spring has not yet sprung here in Ohio. Winter sometimes has deep claws that take a long time to dislodge. I lived in Florida for 10 years of my life. I don’t remember longing for spring once. In Florida, there isn’t a definitive winter and what winter there is turns instantly into summer. I didn’t look forward to spring because spring didn’t exist. But here in Ohio it is different.

Even though it’s still cold outside I have been seeing the signs of spring. Flowers have begun to grow which means the earth itself is going to explode into living color. Tiny buds are beginning to dot every branch of every tree. That means in a matter of weeks whole forests will explode with a gazillion green leaves. The whole region is trembling with life. These last few weeks of winter are like the last few weeks of pregnancy for a woman. It’s the worst part of the whole ordeal but unspeakable joy is right around the corner.

All this has me thinking. There is no spring without winter. It is the hardness of winter that makes me long for and appreciate spring. I wonder how many other areas of my life fit that pattern.

I remember when I was playing basketball in college. Our coach would post the practice schedule up on the wall of the locker room so we would know what was coming. My teammates and I would look at the schedule and groan. Our coach didn’t believe in easy practices. As players, we were firm believers in fun and easy practices. We wanted to win a lot of games, we just wanted to win without the pain of hard practices. We wanted spring without winter.

I’d like to think I’ve matured some since I played my last college basketball game more than 25 years ago. I’ve tried to pay attention to how much better food tastes when I’m really hungry, or how much better I sleep when I am totally exhausted.

But I still find myself praying for good days instead of praying for God to give me the kind of days I need to become what he really wants me to become. Today I’m reminding myself as much as I’m reminding you that there isn’t a spring without a winter.

So, if you’re struggling in some area and life has just been hard way for too long, then look around right now. Look at the buds on the trees and the flowers pushing themselves out of the ground. The earth itself is vibrating with life and reminding all of us that winter never lasts forever for any of us. Darkness lasts for the night but joy comes in the morning.