Looking out the window here at The Faith Cafe, I notice that the deciduous trees in the park have dropped almost all of their leaves by now.

It’s always sad to have to say goodbye to the autumn leaves, isn’t it? When the last one has fallen, you’re left with a sense of loss, because you know you’re heading into the barren season of winter.

But a funny thing happens when a tree has lost its leaves: you can now see things that you didn’t know were there before.

Going for a walk in your neighbourhood in late autumn, you might see that the bare trees are now revealing things that had been concealed by summer’s foliage. You might be surprised to see a bird’s nest the size of a teacup nestled in the bare branches; you’d passed beneath it dozens of times without knowing it was right above you.

Or you might see a larger nest, called a drey, which was built by squirrels. You’d had no idea that the squirrels had been raising a family there in their hidden home, perhaps in a tree just feet from your own house.

With the trees now denuded of leaves, you might spot a kite or balloon that had been caught in the branches months before. Only winter could reveal this lost object. Maybe it belonged to your child: “So that’s where it went!” you think.

Or you realize that there are dead branches in some of the trees around your house that need removing. You can only see the problem now that the dense foliage has been stripped away.

So it is with us. Sometimes there are things we can only see when we hit a barren season in our lives, brought on by a loss, a difficulty, a setback, or a disappointment. Sometimes it’s only when something has been stripped away from us that other things are revealed.

A loss or illness might show you who your friends are. Some might rally around you and be supportive; other fair-weather friends might not come to visit you in the hospital much. A barren season will reveal who you can really count on during hard times.

A hardship might make you realize that you need to reach out for the support of your family. Maybe you’d been spending too much time at work and had neglected your family ties. You hadn’t seen this problem until the difficult patch in your life revealed it.

A crisis might reveal a problem in communication in your marriage. You’d glossed over it before because you were both so busy. The hard times reveal that this is an area that you need to work on as a couple.

Or a barren season might prompt you to take stock of your life. You might reevaluate certain activities and realize that they’re unproductive. You might now see that you need to do some pruning to clear out the deadwood.

A barren season in our lives, like the onset of winter, really lets you see the lay of the land more clearly. And sometimes this is exactly what God intends. He knows that sometimes He needs to direct our attention to the truly important things that our busy lives might be obscuring.

I think we can borrow some wisdom from Matthew 10:26 here:

“…for there is nothing covered that will not be revealed, and hidden that will not be known.”

So let’s not fear the barren seasons of life. If you’re going through a difficult time, ask God to show you what you can learn from it. Ask Him to reveal to you how you can fix the problem areas in your life that hardship has laid bare. He wants to work all these things together for your good, if you’ll let Him.

“If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking.” (James 1:5)

You may be surprised at the hidden blessings you find in your barren season.

© 2019 Lori J. Cartmell

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