One of the things that I appreciate about living in Pennsylvania is that we have four distinct seasons. However, I wouldn't mind if spring and fall were a little longer and winter much shorter. Winter can be such a dismal time, especially if you have much snow and ice. While the snow can be beautiful, shoveling it can be a real chore. Driving can be so dangerous. The nights can be so long especially when you are confined to home. Cabin fever is so easy to develop. I don't know if John Newton experienced hard winters, but he appeared to understand how difficult they can sometimes be. And he understood how much the seasons can model the attitudes and moods that we face in our lives. He knew that there are times that our attitudes "darken and gray" like the season. Our spirits can become bitter and cold as the winter days. But he also knew that "When I am happy in Him, December's as pleasant as May." We can, with the Lord's help and closeness, endure those times that seem both "tedious" (long and tiresome) and "tasteless" (dull and without proper season). This hymn written by Newton is not very well known, but the illustrations he uses are those which many of us can relate to as we compare them to our lives. "And prisons would palaces prove, If Jesus would dwell with me there." How does a prison cell become a palace? That's easy, the King shows up. "Why do I languish and pine?" This question is one that I am sure all of us have asked at some point in our Christian walk, especially after the Lord has brought us through a tough situation. Why do we worry? Why do we fret? Why do we lose hope when we know deep in our hearts that the Lord's promises are true? While it's now winter outside, is it winter in your life and heart today? Does life with its cares seem tedious and overbearing? If so, then remember the words that Newton has penned, "His presence disperses my gloom, And makes all within me rejoice. I should, were He always thus nigh, Have nothing to wish or to fear; No mortal so happy as I; My summer would last all the year." Is it summer in your heart and life today? If not, it can be.
1 How tedious and tasteless the hours
When Jesus no longer I see!
Sweet prospects, sweet birds and sweet flow'rs,
Have all lost their sweetness to me.
The midsummer sun shines but dim,
The fields strive in vain to look gay;
But when I am happy in Him
December's as pleasant as May.
2 His name yields the richest perfume,
And sweeter than music His voice;
His presence disperses my gloom,
And makes all within me rejoice.
I should, were He always thus nigh,
Have nothing to wish or to fear;
No mortal so happy as I;
My summer would last all the year.
3 Content with beholding His face,
My all to His pleasure resigned;
No changes of season or place,
Would make any change in my mind.
While blessed with a sense of His love,
A palace a toy would appear;
And prisons would palaces prove,
If Jesus would dwell with me there.
4 My Lord, if indeed I am Thine,
If Thou art my sun and my song,
Say, why do I languish and pine?
And why are my winters so long?
Oh, drive these dark clouds from the sky,
Thy soul-cheering presence restore;
Or take me to Thee up on high,
Where winter and clouds are no more.
You can listen to this old hymn here. LISTEN