By Leonard Lauriault: Religion columnist
Autumn in Israel is planting time. Their rainy season runs from fall through spring allowing them to grow winter crops.
Throughout Israel’s history, God promised to send those rains so they could produce abundant crops (Deuteronomy 11: 13-15).
Our climate is much more continental being characterized by summer rains. Consequently, we’re coming to the end of our high precipitation season. And although the weather data doesn’t strongly support it, this past summer was hotter, drier, and windier than usual.
While the winds usually subside in late spring, they didn’t this year, making the heat and drought even more difficult for crops and livestock, not to mention us.
Still, autumn is a time of refreshing as the temperatures become cooler and we have had some “moisture” lately.
When matters arise that we’re not prepared for (like the winds that continued to blow, exaggerating the heat and drought), the things we were prepared for become much more difficult to face (like the typical heat). But all is not lost.
Jesus told Peter that he (Peter) was about to be sifted, but that he (Jesus) had prayed for him (Luke 22: 31, 32). Peter survived, assuring us that when Jesus prays for us, we also can survive (Hebrews 7: 25; Romans 8: 31-35).
If we maintain our faith in God when the winds assail us, we’ll be like the tree planted by a stream (Psalm 1: 1-6). It doesn’t have to rely on local rain for sustenance because the stream’s life-giving water comes from the hills (Psalm 121: 1-8; Jeremiah 17: 7-14).
The life-giving God watches over us at all times to carry us through the tough times. He’s promised that once the tough times have passed, we’ll be refreshed (Ezekiel 34: 25-31), but sometimes he allows tough times to remind us of his love and that we need to rely on him for our strength.
Sometimes we need that reminder because we’ve drifted away to the point of non-reliance on him, but God never lets us be sifted more than we can handle (sometimes that’s hard to believe — Hebrews 12: 4-11; 1 Corinthians 10: 13; Matthew 24: 22).
Paul realized this point. Despite the fact that he’d been beaten to a pulp by life, he could accept it as light and momentary because he knew what his future held (2 Corinthians 11: 23-30; 4: 7-18; Hebrews 12: 1-3; 1 John 3: 1-3).
As difficult as it may be for us to accept when the winds of life buffet us, times of refreshing will come from the Lord. He sends rain and cooling temperatures to remind men of his divinity and love (Matthew 5: 43-45; Romans 1: 20: 5: 1-11).
When we turn back to him after drifting away, he refreshes us all the more so through his Spirit who gives us hope even during our present buffeting (Acts 3: 19).
That hope makes us ready to proclaim our love for God whatever season of life we’re in (2 Timothy 4: 2).