This weekend, Spring treated us to a snow-dusted fairy land. It is not supposed to snow in April – even in Michigan. As I gazed out the window, I was reminded of a story I wrote in a Hope College creative writing class more than 50 years. I remember little about it except that it took place on April 4 as snow was covering the flower beds. The story was published in the student literary magazine, much to my dismay – and secret vainglory. The major comment I received was, “But it doesn’t snow in April.”
Snow in April is a surprise! But then, all of life is full of surprises. Many are unwelcome; some are disastrous and even life-threatening. As adults we are often shocked to learn that life does not always turn out the way we want or even expect it to. Some of us absorb that lesson way too early in life and begin to view ourselves as victims long before we are intellectually or emotionally “old” enough to see that falseness of that self-image.
This morning on the TED radio hour, Matt Weinstein told a story about the biggest surprise of his life: losing his life-savings in the Bernie Madoff investment scandal. Madoff defrauded thousands of investors of billions of dollars over more than twenty years. He is now serving 150 years in prison. Like other victims, Weinstein was overwhelmed with anger, humiliation, and hopelessness until he realized that “it’s not what happens to you; it’s how you internalize it. It’s how you go on from here. It’s seeing that there is more than one way to look at something that happens. It’s recognizing that I don’t have be a perpetual victim.”
Weinstein went on to say, “Whatever happens in your life is exactly what needs to happen to make you the person you are to become. We take our surprises or crises and grow, learn, and get stronger.” Weinstein was speaking from a psychological reference point. But Christians understand that the underpinning of this psychological truth is the belief that God reigns over God’s kingdom. God is in charge, and no matter what happens to us we are safe. Neither the surprises nor the downturns nor the crises can remove us from our place in God’s love and care. The key is to maintain faith in the truth of that statement – even when our worlds are covered with two inches of snow in April.