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February, although the shortest month of the year, can still seem arduous and gruelling. Winter continues its relentless hold on us with gales, rain, sleet and snow reminding us that it’s not yet spring. The barrenness of winter can be depressing, with grey skies and darkness robbing us of joy and vitality.

And yet February is pointing forward to spring. Snowdrops and daffodils are reminders that colour is coming. The mornings are lighter; dark doesn’t descend quite so early. We are moving towards spring, a season of burgeoning life and hope.

Just as there are predictable seasons of the year, set in place by God Himself, there are seasons of the soul. There are times of radiant joy, bursting faith, wide-eyed smiles and gladness of heart, but there are also times of darkness and sorrow where we cannot see fruitfulness at all.

Every week I walk past blackberry bushes with my granddaughter, who is now old enough to remember gathering fruit and eating delicious, wild blackberries on our walks last year. Every week she tells me there are no blackberries to be eaten now, but every week I remind her that blackberries are seasonal. They will return. We will have the joy of eating them again, for God is faithful.

This weekly walk has become a parable for my soul. If you are in the season of winter spiritually, if you are in a dry and barren place, hold on. Spring is coming. (Song of Songs 2:10-13) Fruitfulness actually thrives on the period of rest known as winter. Nothing may yet be visible, but God will surely bring forth fresh fruit at the appointed time.