By Rachel Britton, Crosswalk.com
As we look at what the Bible says about the divisions of the year known as the seasons, we find assurance for the seasons of our lives as they change and transition.
In the Bible, winter, spring, summer, and autumn are spoken about in relation to the agricultural activities of planting, growing, and harvesting. Deuteronomy 11:14 is one example: “then I will send rain on your land in its season, both autumn and spring rains, so that you may gather in your grain, new wine and olive oil.”
The seasons are also used to describe the lives of God’s people. “My strength was sapped as in the heat of summer,” says Psalm 32:4. “But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him. They will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit” says Jeremiah 17:7-8.
Here are four ways in which we see the goodness of God’s character in the agricultural seasons that can be extended to, and encourage us in, seasons of change and transition.
1. Look to God's Sovereignty and Faithfulness
The regularity of the seasons reminds us of God’s sovereignty and faithfulness. The Bible states that the seasons are fixed and managed by God. “It was you,” says Psalm 74:17, “who set all the boundaries of the earth; you made both summer and winter.”
The patterns of weather, governed by God, also supply crops for physical nourishment: “He covers the sky with clouds; he supplies the earth with rain and makes grass grow on the hills. He provides food for the cattle and for the young ravens when they call” (Psalm 147:8).
Our world, created and managed by God, is structured to meet the physical needs of all creatures, including humanity. But, as Matthew 6:26 declares, human beings are much more valuable than animals or birds. For this reason, we can trust God to superintend the seasons of life for our overall wellness. God promises to provide for those who put their hope in Him and when they call on Him to meet their needs (Isaiah 40:31).
Like the Psalmist, use these words as your prayer to trust in God’s faithfulness: “The eyes of all look to you, and you give them their food in due season. You open your hand; you satisfy the desire of every living thing” (Psalm 145:15-16).
2. Look to God’s Otherness
Not only is God sovereign over the seasons, but He is transcendent over time. “A thousand years in your sight are like a day that has just gone by, or like a watch in the night” says Psalm 90:4.
The Bible also tells us God’s knowledge and purposes prevail regardless of time: “Only I can tell you the future before it even happens. Everything I plan will come to pass, for I do whatever I wish” (Isaiah 46:10 NLT).
Yet, God is not indifferent to our times and seasons.
Most significantly, God has chosen to reveal Himself, to show His love and compassion to the world at the perfect time. “You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly” (Romans 5:6).
On an individual level, God directs our times and seasons: “The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps” (Proverbs 16:9 ESV). This verse is not meant to discourage us from planning, but to reassure us that God has good intentions for us.
God’s timing in our lives is also perfect. We can be assured that the length of our seasons, the time at which seasons arrive and depart, are set by God for our good and so His purposes are fulfilled. “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose” says Romans 8:28.
Like the Psalmist, praise God that your seasons are safely in His hands for His good purposes: “But the plans of the Lord stand firm forever, the purposes of his heart through all generations” (Psalm 33:11).
3. Look to God’s Compassion and Guidance
God’s compassion and guidance is often portrayed in terms of agricultural seasons.
When God redeemed His people out of exile and forgave their rebellion, Isaiah described God’s compassion and guidance like the seasons that allow for growth and harvest: “They will feed beside the roads and find pasture on every barren hill. They will neither hunger nor thirst, nor will the desert heat or the sun beat down on them. He who has compassion on them will guide them and lead them beside springs of water.”
As the people returned to God, so their times of spiritual drought would become times of refreshing water, times of spiritual hunger would become like rich pastures. As Hosea told God’s people after their rebellion: “Let us acknowledge the Lord; let us press on to acknowledge him. As surely as the sun rises, he will appear; he will come to us like the winter rains, like the spring rains that water the earth” (Hosea 6:3).
So often for ourselves, when we are going through dark and difficult times, God’s compassion and guidance satisfies our thirst and hunger. Likewise, when we sin and turn to God in repentance, we can be assured that God is compassionate. His forgiveness will lead us back to a place of plenty.
Use the words of Isaiah 58:11 to acknowledge your thankfulness to God: “The Lord will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail.”
4. Look to God’s Wisdom
God’s wisdom is seen in the earth he has made (Proverbs 3:19). In His wisdom God controls the seasons, the weather and its patterns: “Who has the wisdom to count the clouds? Who can tip over the water jars of the heavens when the dust becomes hard and the clods of earth stick together?” (Job 38:37-38).
Just as God’s wisdom created spring, summer, autumn, and winter, we should recognize His wisdom extends to the seasons of our lives.
Ecclesiastes 3 reminds us that there is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens: “a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot, a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build, …” (Ecclesiastes 3:19-20).
Although this list gives the impression we have no control over the inevitable cycles of life, God knows the right time for everything.
Just as Paul encouraged the Galatians to persevere in their faith at all times, we are to do the same: “And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up” (Galatians 6:9 ESV).
We should proclaim like the Psalmist: “How many are your works, Lord! In wisdom you made them all…” (Psalm 104:24).
Whatever season you may be in, remember that God is sovereign over it, and He is faithful. God is attentive and His purposes are good. God is compassionate and leads you in righteousness. God is wise and can be trusted.
Like the Psalmist, make this verse your prayer: “But I trust in you, Lord; I say, ‘You are my God.’ My times are in your hands ...” (Psalm 31:14-15).
Photo credit: ©Getty Images/Empato
Rachel Britton is a British-born writer, author, and speaker whose passion is to help others become comfortable and confident in their conversation with God. Rachel holds a Masters in Religion from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. Her blog “Praying Naturally” offers an extensive library of free prayer resources to help you deepen and develop your prayer life. Rachel is wife to Colin and mom to three young adults. She cannot live without a mug of English tea. Connect with Rachel on Facebook.