This Fragile Beauty
By Anthony Casperson

Reds, yellows, and oranges. The typical colors of fall due to the changing of the leaves on the trees. A beauty that stands for a limited time every year.

But this year—at least it seems to me, in the area where I live—this beautiful canvas for the seasonal shift fell to death quite quickly.

The colors had emerged slowly. It felt like there’d only been a handful of days to soak in the grandeur before a single night of lasting frost struck. And we awoke to blankets of fallen beauty surrounding the barren branches that remind us of the coming death of winter.

It all happened so quickly. Glorious colors that we could witness with awe and wonder for such a short time. But then seemingly just after it had arrived, a single cold and lonely night stole that amazing beauty. And left us with only reminders of decay and death.

When I saw the fallen leaves, I thought about how we can find ourselves in similar situations with regard to our emotional lives. We find ourselves waiting for that moment of beauty and happiness to arrive. And when it does, we breathe in the wonder. And smile at the grandeur.

But that beauty is fragile.

After a single dark night, a cold and lonely chill shivers us to the core. Then…

Happiness withers. Wonder fades. Grandeur falls.

We’re left with remnants of that once glorious beauty shattered beneath our feet. And it seems that darkness of winter is just around the corner calling us to barrenness. To forget the colors and embrace the drabness.

Many among us feel this loss in visceral ways. And far too often. A cycle that’s not just once a year. But for we followers of Jesus, there’s something that we can cling to even amidst these difficult times.

We have a glorious God with us who will never wither, fade, or fall.

And though that reminder might not make everyone stand and cheer like a (wrongfully oft-given) promise of things getting better, it is certainly a surer guarantee. One that the Creator of universe gives when the grass withers and the flower fades.

In Isaiah 40, God desires to comfort his people. Those who have been through the travesties of life. Those who find themselves fallen in anguish. Those who are told in verse 6 to cry out that “all flesh is grass, and all its beauty is like the flower of the field.” This fragile beauty that might be wondrous, but often finds itself in a precarious situation.

The wind blows and everything falls apart. And we’ll be tempted to blame God, like the people in Isaiah 40:7 who say “the grass withers, the flower fades when the breath of the Lord blows on it; surely the people are grass.” It feels like even God himself is against us. Why would he allow us to face these terrible times if he truly loves us? Why does death seem nearer than God?

But the truth is that God is right there with us. He won’t be undone like the plantlife around us. Isaiah uses those very words from the previous verse to speak truth and life to we who stand in fallen beauty. “The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God will stand forever.”

His promises. His concerns. His triumphant will. It stands forever. Never withering, fading, or falling. This is the God we followers of Jesus have right beside us through those cold nights. The God whose greatness the next verses of Isaiah 40 shout forth. The mighty God who will shepherd his flock. He’ll bear his lambs close to himself. Care for them, his great promise.

Not that everything will always surely get better. Or that greatness is just around the corner. But that he is with us. Empowering us. And giving us his grace to stand. Even when this fragile beauty lies as a tattered blanket at our feet.

In this coming season where darkness and cold reach ever nearer, let’s stop staring at the fallen colors. And rather, look to our gloriously beautiful God who will never wither, fade, or fall.