A Killing Freeze

Nov 13, 2014

I know that the killing freeze arrived later this year because I checked last year’s date in my journal. I understand that the cold air pouring in even as I type is, if anything, overdue, and yet I wish it had held off longer still.

Winter approaches, and I find myself afraid.

Most of the maple leaves have fallen, but the trees still wear a few. They look like dabs of watercolor paint. It is autumn’s last deep breath before the descent of winter’s gray veil.

Last winter was long, and the memory is still heavy. I love snow falling past the window, and I love pulling my children on a sled through the Christmas tree farm, but winter is not only that. Winter is also dark afternoons and ice in the chicken’s water and snow turned to mud.


We have all been sick for weeks, and I keep getting better only to get worse again. The baby’s eyes are red and infected, and our whole house shakes with bone-deep coughs.

I am too weary for bad news, I have kept the radio turned off, but terrible tidings slink in, like that draft around my office window. First there was a text from my friend. Such a devastating loss. A week later there was a phone call from family, and that one was so much worse.

They aren’t my stories to tell. Perhaps they aren’t stories at all. They are ruptures. Faultlines.

But you don’t need the details. I’m afraid you’ve heard them before. You, too, have received a text. You, too, have picked up that phone. These are the things that should never happen.

These are the stories every atheist mentions when he or she says they cannot, cannot believe in a good and loving and all-powerful God.

And I find I have no desire to argue with them. Such things should not happen. My atheist friends are absolutely right about that.


When the text came in, I started praying a prayer I’ve never prayed before. I think every true prayer is given, but the given-ness of this one was more apparent than most.

I prayed Let there be light.

I was still praying that prayer when the phone call came. And now I see no reason to stop. Lord, let there be some light. Dear God, please.

It is a winter prayer, and it beckons me toward spring promises:

For as the days of a tree, so will be the days of my people …

They will not labor in vain, nor will they bear children doomed to misfortune.

–          Isaiah 65:22-23

I want to believe that these words are true, but I am thinking of two mothers. One labored in vain. One bore a child doomed to misfortune. At least, that is what appears to be so.

But what if death was no more the end than winter is the end? What if these words are yet true for these mothers and their children? All hope seems lost, but maybe that is a lie.

After the cross came an empty tomb in a springtime garden.

Winter is near. They say it will be long and cold. I know for certain that it will be dark. But I also know that on the other side of winter is spring.

On the other side of death is life.




  1. Cara Strickland

    This is beautiful and hard.
    You’re speaking so many of the same words I’ve been saying lately.
    Thank you.

    • Christie Purifoy

      Thank you, Cara. It helps to remember we don’t speak words like these alone.

  2. Sue Tell

    Christie, I’ve been mulling over this quote from John Blase…
    Contentment without hope is only a mask for resignation.

    • Christie Purifoy

      Beautiful, Sue. Resignation would almost be easier, wouldn’t it? But I’ll keep on, choosing hope.

  3. Danielle

    I’ve been feeling this heaviness, too. Winter, ugh. And the the family member who seems doomed to misfortune. I continue to pray, but lately my prayers turn into bitter accusations and flippant assumptions and I can’t make it through my prayer without apologizing and asking God to help my unbelief. And i’m currently studying Exodus, which really doesn’t help matters much. But i’m trying to find hope in God’s patience for his people when they were onebighotmess and the fact that while the desert felt like home, it was merely part of the journey towards their, and our, real home.

    • Christie Purifoy

      Oh, yes, thank you, Danielle. The desert is not our home. And this is not the end.

  4. kris camealy

    i feel every word of this, my friend. I love winter for its romantic fluffy snow and sparking icecicles dangling, so snow falling silently from a black midnight sky, but I loathe the mud, the gloom, the bitterness without end…I feel this post in my soul, and I am praying with you.

    • Christie Purifoy

      Thank you, Kris. I think the “where two or more are gathered …” applies even to the internet. Grateful to be praying with you, friend.

  5. Larry Ebaugh

    I like your style, because as always I sensed this article it came from your heart.

    There was a time when I thought I was an adequate judge of what was good and what was bad. When life was most appropriate for a given situation and when death was in order. The same with sickness and health.

    Somewhere along the years I finally decided I’m not a wise enough judge to make a judgment of these things. It was better for me to just accept life and death as it came my way, and also pleasure and pain, and deal with them the best I could.

    Having said all that, I pray that you and your family regain your health very soon . . .

    • Christie Purifoy

      Thank you for your prayers, Larry. Yours are wise words.

  6. Danielle

    Oh Christie, so sorry to know of the hard winter news that you and your loved ones have had to bear. But I love your prayer, “let there be light.” That is such a good prayer to pray for so many circumstances.

  7. Diana Trautwein

    I am so sorry for the illness, the pain, the disillusionment, the fear. Thank you for writing it out so well for us. Praying for light for you – for all of us – and for hope to take root, even in the middle of the dark.

    • Christie Purifoy

      Thank you, Diana. I am always so grateful for your wisdom and encouragement.


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