Friday, January 3, 2014

OnFire #309 Cold Hands and Perseverance

OnFire Encouragement Letter
OnFire #309 Cold Hands and Perseverance

Its been that kind of winter that we get once in a bunch of years, and its only early in the winter. On the positive side, we’ve had lots of opportunity to get some exercise outdoors. We returned from our trip to Florida in the middle of a snow storm, and for days I shoveled and ran the snow blower every day. As I write, our friends in Nova Scotia are being pounded by the snow once again. It looks like we’ll get off easy with only 5-10 cm.

Its been cold, too, well into the minus 20's Celsius here in Moncton. The cold brings its own difficulties with staying warm and comfortable, but when you combine the cold and snow, the difficulties multiply. Machinery doesn’t like to work in the cold, and neither do we. On an interesting side note, I put my window down to go through the drive-through yesterday and it wouldn’t go back up. Finally, it started nudging up at about a half inch at a time, every minute or two. It took 25 minutes to put the window back up, but it did go up, thankfully.

We were shoveling snow the other day at the church after the last storm. After a little while my hands were cold and stiff, quite painful really. But there was more snow to move, and some memories of cold hands in the past kicked in. I learned while lobster fishing on Grand Manan that my hands may hurt for a little while, but then it will feel like they’re warming up. It is not comfortable, but it is endurable.

The first time I learned my hands could handle the cold, it was kind of serendipitous, a joyful discovery. The second time I began to see the pattern. After that, I had a strategy. This is a lesson I relearn every winter, and that thought kept me going until we finished clearing the snow.

It reminded me of perseverance in the Christian life. By the power of God, we can handle more than we think we can. And through experience, we learn to handle more.

“... we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.” (Romans 5:3-5*)

As we go through difficulty and hardship, we also experience the strengthening presence of the Holy Spirit, which builds up our character and endurance because we realize we will get through. At some point we feel we just cannot make it, but, through prayer, if we press on just a little while longer we break through. I think this applies to both hardship and temptation. But we cannot give up quickly, as we are sometimes prone to do.

Something else I realized the other day. Sometimes I do things which make the situation worse. My gloves were a poor choice of cold-weather strategy. The pain of the day moved me to try a different set to shovel off my carport last night. Yesterday was actually colder, but my hands were much better and, in fact, did not get cold at all.

As in gloves, so also in life.  It is an uncomfortable thought to realize something I did made the situation worse in the past, but I can learn and change, and I believe this is part of the character development Paul talks about in Romans.

I hope this helps. Stay warm and dry. And stay on fire.


OnFire is a letter on faith and character written by Troy Dennis. This letter published Jan 3, 2014. Troy is the Pastor of Next Generations and Connections at Highfield Baptist Church, Moncton NB Canada. *New International Version, 1984. To subscribe or reply, email Archives are located at, but I’m a little behind in updating things. Blog located at

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