He actually said, “Our weather ‘lull’ will continue.”
This was how a popular Twin Cities meteorologist described December’s weather. Why not call it ‘beautiful, fantastic, gorgeous,’ or even ‘shovel free?’ Instead he chose "lull," which is a perfectly Minnesotan way to describe our relatively warm and sunny fall.
It’s a lull because, although we hate to admit it, Minnesotans secretly love crummy weather. Enduring bitter cold and wind driven snow is the most polite way for us to demonstrate our toughness and superiority over weenies from warmer climates.
Minnesotans thrive on suffering through epic winters. For us, there’s nothing better than to stand outside in a T-shirt as howling wind drives the chill way south of zero while casually proclaiming our contentment and that it really isn’t that cold out anyways.
Bad weather builds character. It toughens us up for the inevitable disappointment that the Twins and Vikings subject us to annually.
The way Minnesotans describe meteorology is comparable with good theology.
James opens his letter in the Bible with, “Consider it pure joy whenever you face trials.” Granted, many will find James’ advice absolutely insane, the same way the rest of the country finds Minnesotans' attitude about winter insane. Conventional wisdom says that we ought to flee from trials as quickly as snowbirds flock to Arizona when the temperature drops below 50.
But don’t dismiss James’ advice too quickly. He continues, “experiencing trials produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” In other words, trials and adversity toughen you up.
But trial and adversity always come with risk, right? Well, yes and no. Yes, it’s true that the trials you will face (maybe are facing) can overwhelm you materially. Actually, though, you constantly face the risk you may lose everything, even when everything seems hunky-dory. Six months ago it was unthinkable that the governor would be telling us not to go to Grandma’s for Christmas, but now here we are. Who knows what’s next.
Christians can endure adversity without worrying about risk, however. We’re every bit as exposed to material risks (maybe even more so), but those risks can’t harm us because our faith is in a hope that’s perfectly secure in the accomplished death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Nothing can separate us from the benefits we have in Christ, so there’s no reason to fear adversity.
This is why the Apostle Paul could find contentment in whatever circumstance he found himself in, whether he had plenty or had lost it all (Phil. 4:12-13). He knew nothing could put his salvation at risk, and all that adversity could do to him was make him tougher.
I’ll bet James and Paul would have loved the winter in Minnesota.
Chad Werkhoven is pastor at Worthington Christian Reformed Church.