Getting through the month of February is often challenging with its cold, rainy days. But the promise of spring is at hand.

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Groundhog Day just passed, and while the worst of winter may be behind us, the fullness of spring may be weeks away. We know to trust the calendar and believe that soon spring will arrive no matter what Punxsutawney Phil said. In popular culture, Groundhog Day can mean reliving the same thing over and over until a breakthrough occurs.

Even when the worst is behind us, at times it is hard to believe life will get better. The death of a loved one can put us into a tailspin for months. Recovering from surgery can be slow and painful — even when the prognosis is good. Living through a divorce can create severe emotional distress. Faith in the power of God’s love can pull us through when nothing else will.

We live in a fast-paced culture, filled with computer tablets, movies on demand, and instant messaging. But our bodies, spirit, and hearts refuse to heal at breakneck speed. We must learn to wait. Faith teaches us that weeping may endure for a night, but joy will come in the morning.

Today, little value is found in waiting. In business, if we wait too long, our competitors will get ahead of us. When others carelessly make us wait for them, it is considered a sign of disrespect. Time is money. Yet, for Christians, God’s timing is everything.

We know God’s timing and purpose for our lives through scripture, prayer and meditation. Prayer takes time. A quick prayer to find a parking space will never replace stillness and thoughtful reflection.

When we refuse to make time for God in our lives, we end up doing the Groundhog Day thing — stumbling through life, making the same mistakes over and over. Once we tire of getting lost in familiar territory, we consult our divine GPS. When we choose to align our desires with God’s purpose for us, navigating life becomes easier, and Groundhog Day is finally over.

The next important day on the calendar is Valentine’s Day. I am sure many could write a book on lessons of love. Love is a gift, yet it can take a lifetime to learn to love well.

Christian scripture tells us that love is patient, kind, believes in our best and endures hard times. Love is not controlling, manipulative, fearful, or possessive. These days, it is important to know what love is and what love is not.

Hearing, “I did not mean to hit you” or “this hurts me as much as it hurts you” may be sincerely spoken by a spouse, partner, or parent. But abuse is not an act of love.

God is love. We cannot control or manipulate God, but we can be empowered by God’s love. I am always amused at religious leaders who claim to know all about love. God often brings together the most unlikely people to share love and bring joy to the hearts of those around them. While we cannot control God’s love, we can immerse ourselves in the flow of love and be transformed by it.

Waiting for the love of our lives takes patience. True to our culture, we want to micromanage our lives, by planning every detail — including when Mr. or Ms. Right will appear. Our timing is not God’s timing, and getting desperate and grabbing what is available is never a good idea. Settling for what is available can be spiritually, emotionally, and financially disastrous.

While we often focus on romantic love during this time of the year, the love of friends is priceless. As the saying goes, lovers may come and go, but girlfriends (or good friends) are forever.

Getting through the month of February is often challenging with its cold, rainy days. But the promise of spring is at hand. Timing is everything. Love is in the air. Things will get better.

The Rev. Patricia L. Hunter is an associate in ministry at Mount Zion Baptist Church and senior benefits consultant for American Baptist Churches in the USA. Readers may send feedback to faithcolumns@seattletimes.com