There are times when winter can be depressing and boring, especially when it is extremely cold outdoors. This is a time when we need some words of encouragement, and what better words than those from Holy Writ.
“May the Lord watch between you and me, when we are separated one from the other” (Genesis 31: 49).
“The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face to shine upon you, and be gracious to you; the Lord lift up his countenance upon you, and give you peace” (Numbers 6: 24-26).
“Hear, O Israel. The Lord is our God, the Lord alone. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might” (Deuteronomy 6: 4-5).
“The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures; he leads me beside still waters; he restores my soul. He leads me in right paths for his name sake. Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I fear no evil; for you are with me; your rod and your staff—they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord my whole life long” (Psalm 23).
“Happy are those whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. Happy are those to whom the Lord imputes no iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no deceit. While I kept silence, my body wasted away through my groaning all day long. For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength dried up as by the heat of summer. Selah Then I acknowledged my sin to you, and I did not hide my iniquity; I said, ‘I will confess my transgressions to the Lord,’ and you forgave the guilt of my sin. Selah Therefore let all who are faithful offer prayer to you; at a time of distress, the rush of mighty waters shall not reach them. You are a hiding place for me; you preserve me from trouble; you surround me with glad cries of deliverance. Selah” (Psalm 32: 1-7).
“Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth. Worship the Lord with gladness; come into his presence with singing. Know that the Lord is God. It is he that made us, and we are his; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture. Enter into his gates of thanksgiving and his courts with praise. Give thanks to him, bless his name. For the Lord is good; his steadfast love endures forever, and his faithfulness to all generations” (Psalm 100).
“Praise the Lord, all you nations! Extol him, all you peoples! For great is the steadfast love toward us, and the faithfulness of the Lord endures forever. Praise the Lord!” (Psalm 117).
“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air; they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And can any of you worrying add a single hour to your span of life? And why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not clothed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? Therefore do not worry, saying ‘What will we eat?’ Or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘what will we wear?’ For it is the Gentiles who strive first for all these things; and indeed and your heavenly Father knows that need all these things. But strive for the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well” (Matthew 6: 25-33).
“Ask, and it will be given you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened for you. For everyone who asks receives, and everyone who searches finds, and for everyone who knocks the door will be opened” (Matthew 7: 7-8).
(All Scriptures are from the New Revised Standard Version of the Bible.)
As you read these Scriptures God will brighten your days of winter. Amen.
The Rev. Aram T. Marashlian is chaplain emeritus, Newburyport Fire Department.