Winter in Spokane, Washington: a time to stay indoors, or if one must go out, to bundle up against the near zero cold. Olive Tree’s busy staff keeps warm with hot tea in cozy offices. The pines and spruces, with snow-laden branches, endure the gelid air, erect and still, their roots secretly reaching beneath the frozen crust. What is it about this season that mirrors the soul’s experience in times of trial? Looking up through the clear, cold night air, one sees the angular shape of Orion, emblem of winter in the northern hemisphere. God spoke to Job ages ago about this winter constellation and his springtime sister: “Canst thou bind the sweet influences of the Pleiades, or loose the bands of Orion?” Job 38:31.

C. H. Spurgeon, in a daily devotional, uses this verse to shed light on the sovereignty of God over the winters and springs of our lives. What a comfort to know that God is in charge, ordering our seasons in His wisdom. Just as we cannot change the cycle of the stars, neither can we alter what the Lord has ordered for our souls to pass through. But how wonderful to realize that it is God, and to shift our focus from ourselves to trusting in Him alone!

“If the Lord in sovereignty, or in justice, bind up a man so that he is in soul bondage, who can give him liberty? He alone can remove the winter of spiritual death from an individual or a people. He looses the bands of Orion, and none but He. What a blessing it is that He can do it. O that He would perform the wonder tonight. Lord, end my winter, and let my spring begin. I cannot with all my longings raise by soul out of her death and dullness, but all things are possible with Thee. I need celestial influences, the clear shinings of Thy love, the beams of Thy grace, the light of Thy countenance, these are the Pleiades to me. I suffer much from sin and temptation; these are my wintry signs, my terrible Orion. Lord, work wonders in me, and for me. Amen” (quoted from Morning and Evening, March 21 PM, by C. H. Spurgeon).