“Whenever I bring clouds over the earth and the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will remember my covenant between me and you and all living creatures of every kind.” Genesis 9:14-15 (NIV)
I saw a rainbow the other day. Its colors weren’t brilliant; nor was it particularly large. In fact, for a time I thought I may have been imagining it.
You see, I was on a search for that rainbow. I didn’t just WANT to see it — I desperately NEEDED to see it.
My life had been paralleling the storm outside. I had been watching the storm clouds brewing. I could see the lightning in the distance and faintly hear the rumbles of thunder. And I wondered just how close the storm would come or if it would simply pass me by.
It didn’t. Instead, this life storm hit me full force.
I was left shocked, battered, bruised, and drenched with tears when its intensity thundered down on me. The storm was much worse than I expected; the aftermath much more devastating than I could have ever dreamed. What had I done to deserve such treatment?
The responses of those who brought me such heartbreak and tears were the pat answers most Christians feel obligated to say in situations like these: “God will provide.” (I know that.) “We just know there’s something better out there for you.” (How do you know that?) “You’ll end up in a much better place than where you are now.” (Not hard to believe since the pit I was just thrown into is pretty dark.) All these pat answers are a whole lot easier to give than to receive. And, they can be downright insulting to a person who has grown up in the church and has already experienced God’s provision firsthand in other situations.
As the rain outside slowed to a trickle, suddenly a bright ray of sunshine appeared and it hit me: these are the perfect conditions to see a rainbow. So I raced from the kitchen, through the living room, and out the front door to check the eastern sky.
I didn’t see it at first. Disappointed and refusing to believe there wasn’t one, I kept gazing. Staring. Straining my eyes to see what I knew had to be there. It’s coming! Or are my eyes just seeing what they want to see?
A few seconds later, “It’s coming!” I shouted through the open front door.
My daughter and two grandkids came running, giving me mixed reactions to my moment of excitement and wonder. My 6-year-old granddaughter took a quick look and, unimpressed, asked if she could go back to bed. My daughter humored me a bit longer, hanging around for a couple of minutes before going back to what she had been doing.
But, as I sat on that front porch step, my 3-year-old grandson, Nate, climbed up in my lap and we talked about the rainbow and watched until it began to disappear.
Nate verbalized my thoughts perfectly. “I don’t want it to go, Grandma. I want it to stay.”
Me, too, Nate. Me, too!
God’s word is saturated with promises. Sometimes his promises are clearly visible. Other times, not so much; or perhaps not at all. The rainbow is God’s visible promise to us that he is with us, protecting us through our storms of life. He will never abandon us. No matter what form they take, visible or not, God’s promises are always in tact. They are not diminished in the least just because we can’t see them. Hebrews 6:18 says, “It is impossible for God to lie.” (NIV)
If he has promised to protect us, he does.
If he has promised to love us, he does.
If he has promised to guide us, he does.
If he has promised to . . . , he does.
As a Christian, I know the promises. I also know the struggle in the wait. And every day is a battle. Part of that battle is choosing to wonder instead of worry about what the future holds. Part of that battle is rebuilding my self-esteem when nearly every shred of it disappeared. Part of that battle is trusting that God, in his wisdom, saw the storm brewing in the distance and, for whatever reason, allowed me to experience its full force.
So, bottom line: it makes no difference if your storm is weather-related, job-related, relationship-related, or whatever-related, God is God. He keeps his promises no matter what. And sometimes — sometimes — he blesses you with a clear and unmistakable visible reminder through a rainbow.
So, here I sit, several months after that initial storm, still struggling and straining to see the rainbow in all of this. I don’t just WANT to see it — I desperately NEED to see it.