Our most debilitating weaknesses reveal our need for the power and sovereignty of Jesus.

A cold front is hitting All Things New this week. Here, in the heart of February, the lights of Christmas are too dim to make out and the warmth of summer still out of reach. But God speaks to us in the cold. He has something to give us in it (Psalm 147:16). And much like the book of 2 Corinthians, we have to embrace the paradox and the apparent contradictions to get to the grace of it. Bundle up. It’s Cold Week.

W inter is torture. Gone are the carefree winter days when I was a kid, slogging after my brother as we built snow forts and sledded down the hill in the horse pasture. Although I’d always had cold hands growing up (“Cold hands, warm heart,” my grandma always used to say), it wasn’t until I was in college that I found winter problematic. My feet would become painfully cold. My fingers would swell, along with my right foot. Years later, I discovered that I have Raynaud’s Disease.

Simply put, when I am exposed to cold (or even just stress), the blood vessels in my hands or feet spasm and constrict, allowing very little blood to pass through. My fingers/toes will turn white, then blue, then bright red as they are warmed up again. Although I can have an episode in the summer (going from scorching heat to blasting air conditioning is a trigger; I can also have an episode just by picking up a cold drink or a carton of ice cream from the freezer), winter is by far the worst and most painful season for me.

Of course, this is exacerbated by the fact that I live on a horse farm in Colorado. Colorado = cold winter days. Horse farm = I must go out in the cold and feed the critters, chop ice, tend to sick horses, scoop frozen manure—all tasks made more difficult because my hands and feet will become painfully cold. It’s not a matter of “if,” but a matter of “when.”

Unashamedly, I admit that I often cry because my hands are so cold (then I tell myself that I need to stop crying, or my tears will freeze to my face and that will make things worse). I stop multiple times to warm my hands on my body. My feet become numb on an almost daily basis. I have a little heater in the barn and I have to stop sometimes to warm up my hands or feet in front of it.

I pray…for a lot of things. Pray I wouldn’t have this condition. Pray that God would send someone to help me finish tending the horses. Pray for the opportunity to winter in Florida instead of Colorado. I also question my sanity and why I have horses in the first place. Such is the nature of one’s thoughts when left in the barn with no one to talk to except the horses (who only care about the fact that I’m not yet feeding them).

Inevitably, my thoughts race through things people have said, from unhelpful medical advice (“Just stay out of the cold”), to friends gushing about how winter is their favorite season so they can go skiing. (My response: “Tell me how much you love winter when you’re chopping ice out of a water tank.”) But after I cry and/or get angry with God, my mind will usually rest on the passage in 2 Corinthians where Paul talks about the “thorn in his flesh,” which he asks God to remove from him. The response? “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:7-10).

While I curse my body for this weakness, it is this weakness (and others) that highlight to me that although I am weak, God is strong. His power is made perfect in my weakness because it is in my weakness I realize how much I need my Lord. I am not self-sufficient. I cannot control even my next breath, so I need God so very much.

So I thank him for large boxes of toe warmers from Costco, for battery-powered heated gloves, for Under Armour and Smart Wool socks. But most of all, I thank God for his grace, and the fact that his strength is more than sufficient to cover my weaknesses, and I look forward to the time when all my pains are gone and I stand before him. What an awesome day that will be.

Until then, I’ll have to make do with a quick trip to Florida in February.