The Smell After Rain

by Jo English

My favorite word is petrichor. A lot of people don’t know this word, and I honestly don’t even remember how I learned of its existence. Anyhow, the definition says, “a pleasant smell that frequently accompanies the first rain after a long period of warm, dry weather.” This definitely held true to the rains we had in South Carolina this past fall, as it allowed us to finally have beautiful autumn weather after a long, hot summer. Brisk fall days such as those are my favorite kinds, but honestly, they are not always the most fun. Driving in foggy light mixed with sporadic rain is often chaotic, and the gumption to get out of bed on that kind of day is normally very hard to come by.Even still, they are my favorite days.

I think this type of “weather” in our lives is what James is talking about when he writes, “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing” (ESV).

Even when the days are dreary, even when the fog is everywhere, God’s glory still shines through. In the past I have read this verse and thought to myself, “Okay Jo, next time you’re hurting or you’re upset about something, you just need to remember to have joy and not let it phase you.” The truth is, our bad days are supposed to phase us. God doesn’t expect us to block them out and go on with our lives like everything’s fine. He wants us to come to Him, not asking Him to help us forget about our circumstances and push them under the rug, but rather to fill us with joy even in the circumstances we’re going through.

When I struggle on those cloudy days, false voices can fill my head telling me that I need to find joy real quick before God finds out and thinks that I’m being ungrateful for the wonderful life He’s given me. In truth, Christ puts us through the fog and the rain to exemplify His beauty. It is in these times that He shows us the uniqueness of the strengths He has given us and helps us to realize that we can’t muster up the strength to find joy on our own. While the rain is dreary and the skies are darkened, the leaves covering trees show their vibrant oranges and yellows even better. In storms, darkness, and cold weather, He is filling us with new colors and washing away the dirt.

I’m not saying that I always remember these things and that every time I struggle I’m just doing great because I have some crazy perfect relationship with God that keeps me from feeling down. I just realized that when I see beautiful fall colors I can remember that God is working in me, and even though it may not feel like it, this rough weather is going to be used for His glory!

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