Most houses don’t have central heating in Japan. We get some snow where I live in Sendai, and generally the temperature hovers around freezing in winter. Even though it is not extremely cold compared to some places, one thing that adds stress to winters here is living in a cold house. Don’t misunderstand—we do heat our house, but at night we turn off all the heaters to save energy. In the morning when we wake up the whole house is cold. We also only heat those rooms that we use, so every time we go into the hallway we walk on cold floors. A pair of good slippers really comes in handy. But even with good slippers, by March I am looking forward to the arrival of warmer weather. I keep reminding myself that each day is a little longer than the last and that the arrival of spring is inevitable.
After the long “winter” of Covid, it looks like “spring” may finally be coming to Japan. Masks are beginning to come off. We are finally looking at relieving restrictions in our worship services. This past Christmas, for the first time in a long time, we enjoyed an extended fellowship time after our worship service. Not only did our church members benefit, but some new families came and have continued to show interest in the gospel.
Persevering when results are few
Serving God and others when results are few may also seem like a long, dark winter. It takes patience and faith to persevere. The Bible gives us hope that our service is worthwhile. The examples we find in Scripture, especially that of our Lord Jesus, inspire us to continue. Paul wrote, “Each of us should please his neighbor for his good, to build him up. For even Christ did not please himself but, as it is written: ‘The insults of those who insult you have fallen on me.’ For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.” (Rom 15:2–4, NIV)
As surely as spring follows winter, some things in the spiritual realm are also inevitable. The Last Judgment is inevitable. The return of Christ and the consummation of the kingdom of God are inevitable. Easter reminds us that the grave is not the end. And though we may feel like we are in the dead of winter or the middle of the darkest night, God’s Word assures us that morning is coming! Jesus will return, will raise to life those who died believing in him, and will reward everyone who has faithfully and humbly served him.
Pray that missionaries in Japan would trust God’s timing and have patience to continue to serve.
By Joel, an OMF missionary