Stonehenge, site of solstice celebrations for millennia
Public Domain photo

The shortest day of the year in the northern hemisphere is the winter solstice, which occurred last year on December 21st. From that day on, the days begin to lengthen and the sun’s position in the sky begins to rise from our perspective.

But if the days are now getting longer and we’re getting more sunlight, why does it keep getting colder and snowier here in January and February?

Where is spring?

There are two reasons for this temperature lag: one having to do with the tilt of the earth, the other with how slowly the earth heats up and cools down in response to the sun’s energy.

Think of a rock near a bonfire. When the fire is first lit, the rock will stay cool for a while. It takes time for it to heat up, even though it’s being exposed to a roaring fire. The rock will eventually absorb the fire’s heat, though, and will retain that heat for a while even after the fire is put out.

Similarly, even though the days are now lengthening, it takes time for the earth to warm up, resulting in colder temperatures in the early months of the year. The earth is also slow to release accumulated heat energy from the sun after the summer solstice in June. This gives us hotter July and August days in the northern hemisphere, even as the days are getting shorter.

In the same way, sometimes we pray about something but don’t see any immediate results. There seems to be an inexplicable “lag” in receiving answers to our prayers. We don’t see any evidence that things are changing; in fact, our situation might seem to get worse.

What’s going on? Where is our “spring”?

I think we need to understand that God can answer our prayers in several ways.

Sometimes, He answers with an immediate “yes.” We might see a healing or merciful change for the better in our circumstances right away.

At other times, His response is a gentle but firm “no.” We might not be asking according to His will, or perhaps He knows that in the long run what we’re praying for wouldn’t be in our best interests.

Snowdrops in snow
Photo by Dave Gunn on Flickr CC BY-NC 2.0

But God can also say “not yet” to our prayers. Perhaps our request accords with His will and He desires to grant it, but the timing isn’t quite right yet. Maybe other people are involved in the situation, and God is giving them time to make the decisions that will allow things to fall into place for us. Or it might simply require some time for the right circumstances to come into alignment.

God might also be waiting for us to grow a bit before granting our request. Perhaps there are some changes we need to make in our attitudes or conduct before we’re truly ready for what God has in store for us.

At other times there might be things going on in the spiritual realm that are acting as hindrances to our prayers. Although this “warfare” in the heavens is invisible to us, it can have an effect on the timing of our prayers being answered.

Think of Daniel in the Old Testament. In Daniel 10:12-13, we learn that in response to Daniel’s prayers, an angel had been dispatched to give him encouragement and insight. However, this angelic messenger was delayed for three weeks due to interference by an evil spiritual being who was trying to thwart God’s purposes. When the angel arrives he tells Daniel:

“Since the first day you began to pray for understanding and to humble yourself before your God, your request has been heard in heaven. I have come in answer to your prayer. But for twenty-one days the spirit prince of the kingdom of Persia blocked my way.” (NLT)

Daniel’s prayers had actually been heard on day one, but conflict in the spiritual realm had delayed the answer for close to a month. The important thing to understand is that even if spiritual opponents try to thwart our prayers, they can only delay, not derail God’s purposes for us. God’s Will will always be done.

So if you feel that God has responded to your prayer with a “not yet,” be like Daniel and keep in faith. You might not see any manifestation for a while, but things have already been set in motion behind the scenes. Have faith that the answer to your prayer is en route. It’s just a matter of time.

Even if it gets colder in your life for a while, even if you go through some snowy circumstances, be sure of this:

Spring is on its way.

© 2020 Lori J. Cartmell. All rights reserved.

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