One Of God’s Workmen Psalm 147:16

He scattereth the hoar frost like ashes.—Psa_147:16.

Today we are going to speak about someone whom we all know, who is indeed one of our very good friends— though perhaps the boys and girls love him better than the grown-ups. He pays us a visit every year— several visits, in fact—but it is only in winter that we expect him, for if the temperature is above a certain degree he can’t live with us. The lower it is the better it suits him. If any of you haven’t guessed his name by this time, when I tell you that his first name begins with a “J,” and his second with an “F,” you’ll guess it right away. Yes, it is of Jack Frost that we are going to talk today.
I am afraid that most grown-up people think of Jack Frost as a mischief-maker, a wicked sprite who nips their toes, clouds their windshields, bursts their water-pipes, and costs them a plumber’s bill. Boys and girls, on the other hand, think of him chiefly as a happy good fellow who brings them sliding and skating and lots of fun. Well—I don’t want you to think of him this morning either as a mischief-maker or as a fun-maker. I want you to think of him as one of God’s workmen. It is God Himself who sends Jack Frost, and Jack does some magnificent work for Him.

What sort of work does he do for God? And what kind of workman is he? He is really two kinds of workman, and, like every sensible workman, he wears clothes suited to his job. For the first kind of work he wears a white coat and we speak of him as “hoar frost.” That is the coat he wears in our text. For the second kind of work he puts on a dark coat, and we speak of him then as “black frost.”
Have you guessed his first kind of work as well as his name? The white coat tells you—doesn’t it?— that he is an artist.

1. He is a great artist.—He paints the most beautiful pictures, and no two of them are alike. When flowers and leaves have fallen, and the country is black and bare, and the trees stand up so stark and tall, Jack Frost comes along with his magic brush and turns them into a dazzling picture of silvery white. He covers the window panes with fairy ferns and seaweeds, stars and blossoms, and each blade of grass and each little twig is a spray of shining diamonds, and the very stones by the roadside are masses of white coral. You see, if Jack Frost takes away our summer flowers he gives us winter ones instead.

Now we can imitate Jack Frost as an artist. We can’t, of course, paint the world silver, but we can make lovely the dull and uninteresting things in life. We can take the humdrum everyday duties and we can cover them with a beautiful mantle of imagination; and it is wonderful how delightful they will appear if we only pretend hard enough that they are fascinating. The dull or uninteresting people we meet too, it is marvelous what a change will come over them if we cover them with the glorious mantle of love. Our love and sympathy may be the very thing they are needing to turn them into really charming people. Let us imitate Jack Frost as an artist, then, and try to make the world beautiful.

2. But Jack is not only ornamental, he is also useful. Everything God makes is useful, and when Jack dons his black coat he works hard as a gardener and farmer. Indeed, he is the gardener’s and farmer’s best assistant. How can that be when he nips and blackens the plants? To understand we must remember that Nature is like all boys and girls, she needs plenty of sleep to make her grow strong and healthy. And Nature’s sleep is a long one, for it lasts not one night but all winter. During winter Nature is resting and getting ready for the coming summer’s work. Jack Frost helps to send her to sleep in autumn, and if she wakes too early in spring he sends her over again. If the tiny buds begin to burst too soon he whispers to them, “Back you go to bed! It’s not time to get up yet.” And each fat little bud cuddles back into its sheath, and waits till the sun is warm enough to make it grow into a strong and beautiful flower or leaf.

Then Jack, with the aid of water, another of God’s workmen, helps the farmer by breaking up the soil for him and making it ready for the seed in spring. The farmer ploughs in autumn, but Jack Frost ploughs all winter. When water freezes it expands—that is how our pipes burst when they freeze—but the same frost which bursts the pipes and makes everything in the house messy, takes the water which has soaked into the stones and rocks and makes it expand, so that the stones and rocks crumble and new soil is made. Jack, you see, is busy all winter making food for next year’s plants.
Now I don’t suppose the buds specially like to be nipped, nor do the rocks specially like to be split and crumbled, but they are getting the very treatment which will make them of most use. And that is often the way with us. We don’t like the hard things in life, but they are the very things we most need. If we never had hard lessons we should never learn anything worth learning, if we never met with trouble or difficulties our characters would not develop, they would never grow either strong or beautiful. It is hardness that gives them grit and beauty.

We are like that unusual plant which once arrived at the botanic gardens at Kew. The gardener knew nothing of its nature, but he put it in the hothouse, gave it rich mold round its roots, and tended it most carefully. Instead of flourishing, the plant drooped its head and grew more and more sickly. One of the under-gardeners asked to be allowed to try what he could do with it. So he shook the rich mold off its roots, planted it out in the open air, and heaped snow and ice round its stem. Very soon the plant revived and later it sent out new leaves and flowers. You see, it was a hard climate it needed, not a hot-house one.

Boys and girls, we are like that plant. It is good for us to “endure hardness,” as the Bible puts it. Then never grumble at the hard things when they come. Face them bravely with God’s help. Remember that God is using them to turn you into noble, good, and useful men and women.