Winter in the north is hard on machinery and people. Winter stops being crisp really fast. Ice-cold things grind slowly if they grind at all. Loneliness and sadness put winter in the soul. The chill goes deep. It compresses our spirits. We desperately want something to change, and that puts us at risk for changing the wrong things, for finding the wrong remedies for unhappy feelings we don’t understand, even for exposing ourselves to something deadly.
When I was a church consultant, I made five trips to Alaska. I hit all the seasons. In the summer, I saw active people launching their kayaks in the Kenai River at 11:00 p.m. because there was plenty of daylight left. I also heard about the negative effects of long, dark winters. In winter the rates of alcohol abuse, drug abuse, and teen pregnancies all went up. People were inclined to find the wrong solutions for their problems.
I also saw how people survived when their snow machines wouldn’t start or their truck batteries were lifeless blocks of ice. What do you do? You depend on each other. You rally to each other’s rescue. You keep each other going. When God’s people were falling apart in the wilderness and were ready to give up, God told Moses to “gather the people together” (Numbers 21:16). God would give his people what they needed to survive when they were all together. Getting together is a good way to survive cabin fever.