To Everything

To everything there is a season, A time for every purpose under heaven: Ecclesiastes 3:1 NKJV

The changing of seasons is an amazing thing. It displays God’s creativity in His creation and His careful arrangement of nature and weather. Here in the southern United States where I live it is Spring- more affectionately called by locals as Pollen Season. If you happen to visit the area during these months of our Spring from mid February to the end of May, you will encounter quite the scene. Sniffling noses, watery eyes, raspy voices, foggy minds and the “I just woke up and feel tired already” groups of people. It is like we have all just watched the saddest videos on our phones for all the sniffles and watery eyes you’ll witness.

And we all empathize with each other and compare our symptoms and the various remedies. We search out and Google every possible option for relief and seek the advice of complete strangers in the medicine aisle of the grocery store. The advice is as wide of a variety as the flavors of Jelly Belly jelly beans- which means quite a number!

As one who suffers from these Spring pollen explosions of symptoms, I sometimes feel quite miserable. I find it very easy to get caught up in the whole “My symptoms are worse than yours” conversation in which we all try to describe in detail, how we are feeling. The real reason is of course to find out what the other person is taking for medicine to relieve their symptoms. To be honest, though, there seems to be no perfect medicine to relieve the allergies, just basically something to control the symptoms. Allergies must simply be endured until, the pollen of the particular flower or tree lessens. It is about the same time the humidity kicks in- about mid to late May for the South.

So, I have a choice to complain about the pollen and then switch to complaining about the humidity, or to find the beauty in it all. There will always be something to complain about.

After living all over the globe, thanks to my husband’s career in military service- I can tell you one great insight about places and weather- there is simply no perfect place in which the sun shines every day of the year. We all have rain- we need it- we all have seasons of storms, and if we have plants- we will have pollen season. We must take it all as a part of life, much like stages of our lives. We all go through various seasons in our lives, as the writer of Ecclesiastes tells us.

There are times when we are growing and sowing in our lives, when we feel pretty good about life. And then there are seasons of harvest when we are content and happy. And then there are seasons of sadness and mourning when we let go of someone or something. There are season of hardship and difficulty. Seasons of uncertainty. But in it all, we can find the beauty of God.

As I have mentioned many times before, life is constantly moving forward. Our lives and are faith are always moving forward and growing and we will be challenged at times. We have the choice to look for the beauty in what God is doing or remain bitter and see only the difficulties. I can look out my window and admire the beauty of the flowers as God could only create their intricate blossoms. Or I could only see the pollen floating in the air and complain about Spring. Without the pollen, the bees and butterflies could not survive. The honey that sweetens would be missing if the bees could not harvest the nectar from the blooms. The fruit trees producing their delicious fruit of late Summer could not bloom without the help of the bees and the Spring winds blowing the pollen from tree to tree.

In life we will have problems, the pollen of our lives, so to speak, but it can bring the fruit and growth later on that we can enjoy. Pollen season is a brief time. It doesn’t last all year- thankfully- There is a season for everything- we must find the beauty in the season we are in- even if it means watery eyes and sniffles. -God bless you- Nancy


So allergy season has begun in the southeastern part of the United States where I live. How do I know? I am feeling the physical effects of the yellow pollen covering the ground. Just like the foggy layer on my car’s windshield, my head seems to be in a fog as well. My throat scratches, my eye blurs, my nose stuffs, and my head hurts. Yay for Spring! Actually, I really love Spring; it is my favorite season. Everything feels fresh and new and I enjoy planting flowers and planning for the summer ahead. I remember my Mom used to plant a large vegetable garden and in early Spring she would draw a map of her proposed garden, designing each row according to the size and shape of the plants she would have. I like to do the same, so I guess in that way I take after her.

Yesterday I was standing in my driveway, when I noticed all the weeds that had popped up in the small flower bed alongside. I was already feeling bad, but thought to myself, “Maybe I can build up immunity to allergies if I just expose myself to them more.” So I decided to spend the afternoon weeding out said flowerbed, despite my headache, stuffy nose and scratchy throat. It was great until after dinner, when I felt worse. So much for the immunity theory. I can tell you it doesn’t work. So around 7:30 p.m. I faced a dilemma: go out for a walk as I usually do in the evening, pushing through my allergies, or just put on my jammies and go to bed early. What would you do? Are you someone who pushes through no matter what, or do you realize you have to stop and rest sometimes?

I’m sure you’ve seen so many commercials that advocate just pushing through everything. No pain no gain, just do it, winners never quit, let nothing hold you back, pain is fear leaving, etc. Yeah, those are great and there is a time to push past the pain and struggle. There is even the Christian motto; I can do all things. Which is so often used for exercise and sports themes, we begin to think we really can do everything, and that we MUST do everything. But, what some people don’t realize is that the Apostle Paul wasn’t talking about sports at all in this passage. He was talking about contentedness, and about Christ’s strength, not his own. In fact, he was actually talking about money.

If you’re not familiar with the passage, here it is from Philippians 4:13; “I can do all this through him who gives me strength” (NIV). Some Bible versions, such as the English Standard Version, ESV, substitutes the “this” with “things”. But what is the “this”  Paul is referring to? Well, it’s not about lifting weights, running marathons, or going for walks. In verses 10 through 12 he explains he had learned to be content whether he has money or is poor, and whether he has eaten or is hungry. See, when Paul wrote this letter to a church in the city of Philippi, he was in jail and he was thanking the church for sending him money and encouragement. And he was reminding them he could only do this (be content) with Christ’s strength, not his own. He had learned that only through Christ’s strength, could he trust in God’s provision.

By the world’s standards Paul would have seemed like a failure, like he didn’t measure up. He had planted many churches, yet here he was in jail and was talking about not having money and even of being without food. We can assume there may have been times when he didn’t have a place to live. He did freelance work as a tentmaker. So, in the passage he is admitting, he had at times been inadequate and lacked money and food. He also mentions he had learned to be content (verse 12). It must have been a process to go through these times of supply and lack so that he realized he could only be content if he relied on Christ. It wasn’t about self-motivation at all.  You have to wonder if Paul would have “learned” to be content, had he not had shortcomings in his finances. It’s easier to trust God when everything is going our way. So, this brings me back to my dilemma.

I’m sure you have times when you realized, you didn’t measure up. You felt inadequate. When everyone around you is doing great and everything’s going their way. And here you are, not quite up to the standards, struggling. Maybe even like Paul, you’re struggling with finances or even health problems. You reflect on the times you had plenty and the times you had food or felt great. And that is the secret to finding contentedness, remembering those good times. In fact Paul uses the word “secret” in verse 12; “I have learned the secret of being content”. It is not pushing through, but realizing God’s provision. It is not about doing everything with an attitude I am going to do this because I can if I just try hard enough. It is about recognizing how to be content when you can’t do everything. The secret is relying on Christ for strength to find peace and contentedness despite the circumstances we find ourselves in. And sometimes it is about just putting on your jammies instead of going for a walk. Allergy season will pass. God Bless- Nancy