At summer’s end, we might hear someone express the sentiment, “Fall is my favorite season.” Many of us will agree.
The abbreviated hours of heat and dialed-down humidity bring us relief. The mosquitoes have mostly perished, and we enjoy more time outside. The kids will do more cartwheels, and we’ll leap along with them—at least in spirit.
On a radiant October day, we may notice more smiles or an absence of weary sighs. Even those who suffer with pain in body or soul can benefit from the beauty and balm that autumn brings.
Indeed, this season makes the heart rejoice. As we celebrate our reprieve between the more extreme temperatures, we delight in the appearance of those signature shades of orange, yellow, purple, and red.
The glories that surround us on a crisp fall day point to our Creator. The apostle Paul wrote, “For his invisible attributes, namely his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made” (Romans 1:20).
Yet, autumn will wind down to winter all too soon; and even the brightest fall days cannot cure a truly anxious or depressed soul. We need reasons to be glad that go beyond seasonal beauty, ones that will carry us through our personal valleys of concern.
In Ukraine, many churches are helping war-weary people to smile again. Members of one Kyiv congregation have united with partner churches to pack food and supplies for delivery to more damaged regions where people have lost family members, homes, and livelihoods. But viewing photos of these relief trips, it’s clear to see that the ones who distribute the resources are wearing the bigger smiles.
Efforts such as those remind us to take seriously the words of Jesus, “It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35).
I have a friend who endured great stress due to false accusations, sudden job-loss, government seizure of his assets, and an unjust prison sentence. He could have packed away his naturally cheerful outlook. Instead, he found plenty of men in prison to encourage and help. While there, his caring ways brought joy to others and helped preserved his own.
Besides the sense of well-being that we receive from giving to those in need, there are other ways to restore us to the happy-hearted state we enjoyed in better seasons. Though sorrow and fear cripple us and make us want to withdraw—or even depart prematurely—from life, a certain cure works within us if we’ll remind ourselves that God is loving and compassionate, and he is present with those who draw near to him.
Psalm 16 says, “I have set the Lord always before me; because he is at my right hand, I will not be shaken. Therefore my heart is glad…. In your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore” (vv. 8, 9, 11).
Jesus’ disciples discovered this fullness of joy while locked away in fear after his crucifixion. Suddenly, the Lord stood among them and showed them his pierced hands and side (John 20:19-20). Now they knew for sure that the words he had previously spoken to them were true.
Jesus had told them, “Because I live, you also will live…. I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you” (John 14:19; 16:22).
In Christ, we have the same sure promises of God. He himself will make us glad.
*Scriptures from the English Standard Version
By Patti Richter. Patti writes and edits Christian faith articles and has co-authored Signs of His Presence: Experiencing God’s Comfort in Times of Suffering (March 2019). Read more of her essays at blueribbonnews.com/category/faith.
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