Is there anything more hopeful than spring? It is a chilly and rainy March morning here in Tulsa, Oklahoma. But as I look out my windows I see the promise of spring. The backyard is filled with jonquils, budding trees, and a few irises waiting their turn. Cardinals and robins are singing and chirping, announcing an end to the barrenness of winter. In the front yard, our tulips and hyacinths are blooming amidst their bed of violas and pansies. Some pink is beginning to pop out on our azalea bushes. Spring is God’s promise to us that there is life after death, that the cold and barrenness of winter will not last forever. Spring must follow winter. The poet Pablo Neruda says, “You can cut all the flowers but you cannot keep the Spring from coming.”
From a Christian perspective spring speaks of the resurrection, of new birth, of life. We celebrate Christmas in the winter, when everything is dead. It is a picture of Christ bringing light and hope to a dark and fallen world. And we celebrate Easter in the spring, a visual reminder of the promise of Jesus: “The one who believes in me will live, even though they die (John 11:25b).” Spring brings us hope.
But in order for there to be a resurrection there must first be a death. For years I have been praying for another Great Awakening, a revival to sweep across America. I am wondering if this pandemic is it. Since we are all social distancing, I don’t have a lot of data to support this thought. We are even having church on line, so I can’t look around and see if we are more crowded than usual. But if my social media pages are any indication, I would say that people are praying much more, and they are inviting others to join them. We are all asking God to rid the world of this terrible virus, to save us. Isn’t it interesting that all our idols are being repudiated, just like the gods of Egypt in Exodus? The gods of entertainment, sports, careers, and the big god of Wall Street are all helpless in the face of this virus. Our hope cannot lie in a something it must lie in a someone. The only “god” that can save us is the capital G God of the Bible, God Almighty. And we are crying out to Him for help.
But there are two parts to a Great Awakening: a turning to God and a turning away from sin. We are so accustomed to the stench of sin we don’t even smell it any more. I have found that the more I pray, two things happen. I get to know God better, but I also get to know myself better. When I am in the presence of a holy God, I am aware of my own sinfulness, my absolute neediness. I see myself more clearly. I am reminded of the prophet Isaiah when he had a vision of the Lord, “high and lifted up (Isaiah 6: 1).” Isaiah was overwhelmed by his own unworthiness. “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: (v. 5)”
Where is the hope? Our hope is eternal and alive. It lies in the power of a good God to keep His promises.
if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land. 2 Chronicles 7:14
Even though we are in the midst of a great and unprecedented challenge, spring is a reminder that God is still on His throne. He offers hope. How will we respond?